Arbitrary Memory shapes

Obsoleted by This RFC is obsoleted by RFC 45.


Extend Memory to support arbitrary element shapes.


Memory currently only supports plain unsigned elements, with the width set by the width argument. Extending this to allow arbitrary shapes eliminates the need for manual conversion when used to store signed data and value-castables.

Guide-level explanation

The width argument to Memory() is replaced with shape, accepting anything that is ShapeLike. Since a plain bit width is ShapeLike, this is a direct superset of existing functionality.

If shape is shape-castable, each element passed to the init argument is passed through shape.const().


RGB = StructLayout({"r": 8, "g": 8, "b": 8})

palette = Memory(shape = RGB, depth = 16, init = [
    {"r": 0, "g": 0, "b": 0},
    {"r": 255, "g": 0, "b": 0},
    # ...

Reference-level explanation

Memory.__init__() gets a new shape argument, accepting any ShapeLike.

The width argument to Memory.__init__() deprecated and removed in a later Amaranth version. Passing both width and shape is an error.

The Memory.shape attribute is added.

The Memory.width attribute is made a read-only wrapper for Shape.cast(self.shape).width.

The Memory.depth attribute is made read-only. and are updated to be Signal(memory.shape).

WritePort.__init__() raises an exception if granularity is specified and shape is not an unsigned Shape.

DummyPort.__init__() gets a new data_shape argument. data_width is deprecated and removed in a later Amaranth version.



Rationale and alternatives

  • This could also be accomplished by adding a wrapper around Memory.
    • A wrapper would result in more code to maintain than simply updating Memory, since both the memory object itself and the port objects would have to be wrapped.

Prior art

Being able to make a Memory with an arbitrary element shape is analogous to being able to make an array with an arbitrary element type in any high level programming language.

Unresolved questions


Future possibilities

  • Once Memory is extended to support arbitrary shapes, it is natural that higher level constructs building on Memory like FIFOs gets the same treatment.

  • granularity could later be allowed to be used with other kinds of shapes.

    • This is desirable for e.g., but is not currently possible since Memory lives in hdl.mem, and hdl can't depend on lib.