Peripheral interface

Peripherals are controlled by the CPU by writing to configuration registers and task registers. Peripheral events are indicated to the CPU by event registers and interrupts if they are configured for a given event.

Figure 1. Tasks, events, shortcuts, and interrupts

Peripheral ID

Every peripheral is assigned a fixed block of 0x1000 bytes of address space, which is equal to 1024 x 32 bit registers.

See Instantiation for more information about which peripherals are available and where they are located in the address map.

There is a direct relationship between the peripheral ID and base address. For example, a peripheral with base address 0x40000000 is assigned ID=0, a peripheral with base address 0x40001000 is assigned ID=1, and a peripheral with base address 0x4001F000 is assigned ID=31.

Peripherals may share the same ID, which may impose one or more of the following limitations:

  • Some peripherals share some registers or other common resources.
  • Operation is mutually exclusive. Only one of the peripherals can be used at a time.
  • Switching from one peripheral to another must follow a specific pattern (disable the first, then enable the second peripheral).

Peripherals with shared ID

In general (with the exception of ID 0), peripherals sharing an ID and base address may not be used simultaneously. The user can only enable one peripheral at the time on this specific ID.

When switching between two peripherals that share an ID, the user should do the following to prevent unwanted behavior:

  • Disable the previously used peripheral.
  • Remove any programmable peripheral interconnect (PPI) connections set up for the peripheral that is being disabled.
  • Clear all bits in the INTEN register, i.e. INTENCLR = 0xFFFFFFFF.
  • Explicitly configure the peripheral that you enable and do not rely on configuration values that may be inherited from the peripheral that was disabled.
  • Enable the now configured peripheral.

For each of the rows in the following table, the instance ID listed is shared by the peripherals in the same row.

Table 1. Peripherals sharing an ID
ID 2 (0x40002000) UARTE UART        
ID 35 (0x40023000) SPIM SPIS SPI      
ID 15 (0x4000F000) AAR CCM        
ID 19 (0x40013000) COMP LPCOMP        
ID 20 (0x40014000) SWI EGU        
ID 21 (0x40015000) SWI EGU        
ID 22 (0x40016000) SWI EGU        
ID 23 (0x40017000) SWI EGU        
ID 24 (0x40018000) SWI EGU        
ID 25 (0x40019000) SWI EGU        

Peripheral registers

Most peripherals feature an ENABLE register. Unless otherwise specified in the relevant chapter, the peripheral registers (in particular the PSEL registers) must be configured before enabling the peripheral.

Note that the peripheral must be enabled before tasks and events can be used.

Bit set and clear

Registers with multiple single-bit bit fields may implement the "set-and-clear" pattern. This pattern enables firmware to set and clear individual bits in a register without having to perform a read-modify-write operation on the main register.

This pattern is implemented using three consecutive addresses in the register map where the main register is followed by a dedicated SET and CLR register in that order.

The SET register is used to set individual bits in the main register while the CLR register is used to clear individual bits in the main register. Writing 1 to a bit in the SET or CLR register will set or clear the same bit in the main register respectively. Writing 0 to a bit in the SET or CLR register has no effect. Reading the SET or CLR registers returns the value of the main register.

Restriction: The main register may not be visible and hence not directly accessible in all cases.


Tasks are used to trigger actions in a peripheral, for example to start a particular behavior. A peripheral can implement multiple tasks with each task having a separate register in that peripheral's task register group.

A task is triggered when firmware writes 1 to the task register or when the peripheral itself or another peripheral toggles the corresponding task signal. See Figure 1.


Events are used to notify peripherals and the CPU about events that have happened, for example a state change in a peripheral. A peripheral may generate multiple events with each event having a separate register in that peripheral’s event register group.

An event is generated when the peripheral itself toggles the corresponding event signal, and the event register is updated to reflect that the event has been generated. See Figure 1. An event register is only cleared when firmware writes 0 to it.

Events can be generated by the peripheral even when the event register is set to 1.


A shortcut is a direct connection between an event and a task within the same peripheral. If a shortcut is enabled, its associated task is automatically triggered when its associated event is generated.

Using a shortcut is the equivalent to making the same connection outside the peripheral and through the PPI. However, the propagation delay through the shortcut is usually shorter than the propagation delay through the PPI.

Shortcuts are predefined, which means their connections cannot be configured by firmware. Each shortcut can be individually enabled or disabled through the shortcut register, one bit per shortcut, giving a maximum of 32 shortcuts for each peripheral.


All peripherals support interrupts. Interrupts are generated by events.

A peripheral only occupies one interrupt, and the interrupt number follows the peripheral ID. For example, the peripheral with ID=4 is connected to interrupt number 4 in the Nested Vectored Interrupt Controller (NVIC).

Using the INTEN, INTENSET and INTENCLR registers, every event generated by a peripheral can be configured to generate that peripheral’s interrupt. Multiple events can be enabled to generate interrupts simultaneously. To resolve the correct interrupt source, the event registers in the event group of peripheral registers will indicate the source.

Some peripherals implement only INTENSET and INTENCLR, and the INTEN register is not available on those peripherals. Refer to the individual chapters for details. In all cases, however, reading back the INTENSET or INTENCLR register returns the same information as in INTEN.

Each event implemented in the peripheral is associated with a specific bit position in the INTEN, INTENSET and INTENCLR registers.

The relationship between tasks, events, shortcuts, and interrupts is shown in Figure 1.

Interrupt clearing

When clearing an interrupt by writing "0" to an event register, or disabling an interrupt using the INTENCLR register, it can take up to four CPU clock cycles to take effect. This means that an interrupt may reoccur immediatelly even if a new event has not come, if the program exits an interrupt handler after the interrupt is cleared or disabled, but before four clock cycles have passed.

Important: To avoid an interrupt reoccurring before a new event has come, the program should perform a read from one of the peripheral registers, for example, the event register that has been cleared, or the INTENCLR register that has been used to disable the interrupt.

This will cause a one to three-cycle delay and ensure the interrupt is cleared before exiting the interrupt handler. Care should be taken to ensure the compiler does not remove the read operation as an optimization. If the program can guarantee a four-cycle delay after event clear or interrupt disable another way, then a read of a register is not required.

Documentation feedback | Developer Zone | Updated 2016-12-05