6. Devicetree Source (DTS) Format (version 1)

The Devicetree Source (DTS) format is a textual representation of a devicetree in a form that can be processed by dtc into a binary devicetree in the form expected by the kernel. The following description is not a formal syntax definition of DTS, but describes the basic constructs used to represent devicetrees.

The name of DTS files should end with “.dts”.

6.1. Compiler directives

Other source files can be included from a DTS file. The name of include files should end with “.dtsi”. Included files can in turn include additional files.

/include/ "FILE"

6.2. Labels

The source format allows labels to be attached to any node or property value in the devicetree. Phandle and path references can be automatically generated by referencing a label instead of explicitly specifying a phandle value or the full path to a node. Labels are only used in the devicetree source format and are not encoded into the DTB binary.

A label shall be between 1 to 31 characters in length, be composed only of the characters in the set Table 6.1, and must not start with a number.

Labels are created by appending a colon (‘:’) to the label name. References are created by prefixing the label name with an ampersand (‘&’).

Table 6.1 Valid characters for DTS labels
Character Description
0-9 digit
a-z lowercase letter
A-Z uppercase letter
_ underscore

6.3. Node and property definitions

Devicetree nodes are defined with a node name and unit address with braces marking the start and end of the node definition. They may be preceded by a label.

[label:] node-name[@unit-address] {
    [properties definitions]
    [child nodes]

Nodes may contain property definitions and/or child node definitions. If both are present, properties shall come before child nodes.

Previously defined nodes may be deleted.

/delete-node/ node-name;
/delete-node/ &label;

Property definitions are name value pairs in the form:

[label:] property-name = value;

except for properties with empty (zero length) value which have the form:

[label:] property-name;

Previously defined properties may be deleted.

/delete-property/ property-name;

Property values may be defined as an array of 32-bit integer cells, as null-terminated strings, as bytestrings or a combination of these.

  • Arrays of cells are represented by angle brackets surrounding a space separated list of C-style integers. Example:
interrupts = <17 0xc>;
  • values may be represented as arithmetic, bitwise, or logical expressions within parenthesis.
Arithmetic operators

+   add
-   subtract
*   multiply
/   divide
%   modulo
Bitwise operators

&    and
|    or
^    exclusive or
~    not
<<  left shift
>>  right shift
Logical operators

&&   and
||   or
!    not
Relational operators

<    less than
>    greater than
<=   less than or equal
>=   greater than or equal
==   equal
!=   not equal
Ternary operators

?:   (condition ? value_if_true : value_if_false)
  • A 64-bit value is represented with two 32-bit cells. Example:
clock-frequency = <0x00000001 0x00000000>;
  • A null-terminated string value is represented using double quotes (the property value is considered to include the terminating NULL character). Example:
compatible = "simple-bus";
  • A bytestring is enclosed in square brackets [ ] with each byte represented by two hexadecimal digits. Spaces between each byte are optional. Example:
local-mac-address = [00 00 12 34 56 78];

or equivalently:

local-mac-address = [000012345678];
  • Values may have several comma-separated components, which are concatenated together. Example:
compatible = "ns16550", "ns8250";
example = <0xf00f0000 19>, "a strange property format";
  • In a cell array a reference to another node will be expanded to that node’s phandle. References may be & followed by a node’s label. Example:
interrupt-parent = < &mpic >;

or they may be & followed by a node’s full path in braces. Example:

interrupt-parent = < &{/soc/interrupt-controller@40000} >;
  • Outside a cell array, a reference to another node will be expanded to that node’s full path. Example:
ethernet0 = &EMAC0;
  • Labels may also appear before or after any component of a property value, or between cells of a cell array, or between bytes of a bytestring. Examples:
reg = reglabel: <0 sizelabel: 0x1000000>;
prop = [ab cd ef byte4: 00 ff fe];
str = start: "string value" end: ;

6.4. File layout

Version 1 DTS files have the overall layout:

[memory reservations]
    / {
        [property definitions]
        [child nodes]

/dts-v1/; shall be present to identify the file as a version 1 DTS (dts files without this tag will be treated by dtc as being in the obsolete version 0, which uses a different format for integers in addition to other small but incompatible changes).

Memory reservations (see Section 5.3) are represented by lines in the form:

/memreserve/ <address> <length>;

Where <address> and <length> are 64-bit C-style integers, e.g.,

/* Reserve memory region 0x10000000..0x10003fff */
/memreserve/ 0x10000000 0x4000;

The / { ... }; section defines the root node of the devicetree, and all the device tree data is contained within it.

C style (/* ... \*/) and C++ style (//) comments are supported.