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Date:	Sun, 1 Mar 2009 10:41:04 +0530
From:	Balaji Rao <>
To:	David Brownell <>
	Andy Green <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH 0/2] spi: Add support for non-blocking synchronous

On Sat, Feb 28, 2009 at 03:19:55PM -0800, David Brownell wrote:
> > > > During the course of development of an accelerometer driver, we saw the
> > > > necessity to execute spi transfers synchronously within an interrupt handler.
> > > 
> > > This sounds like a bad design.  How can you know that no other
> > > transfers are going on ... or are queued in front of the transfer
> > > you're requesting?
> > > 
> > > You'd need to wait for all the other transfers to work their
> > > way through the transfer queue.  There are *much* better things
> > > to do in interrupt handlers.
> > > 
> > 
> > Please do look at the patches. We *don't* use a transfer queue.
> Another example of a conceptual bug.  Because SPI is a shared
> bus, transfers to some other device may be happening when you
> issue a request.  And accordingly, you'd need to wait for that
> transfer to complete.  The SPI I/O queue is at least a logical
> abstraction for that reality.  I have a hard time imagining any
> spi_master driver not having some kind of queue data structure.
> Plus, see Documentation/spi/spi-summary:
> | SPI requests always go into I/O queues.  Requests for a given SPI device
> | are always executed in FIFO order, and complete asynchronously through
> | completion callbacks.  There are also some simple synchronous wrappers
> | for those calls, including ones for common transaction types like writing
> | a command and then reading its response.
> Note that the queueing discipline is explicitly unspecified,
> except in the context of a given spi_device.  If you want
> your spi_master controller to prioritize one device, that's
> fine ... but it's not part of the interface used by portable
> drivers (it'd be platform-specific).
> > Transfers requested through our proposed function should/will complete the
> > transfer when it returns without sleeping in between. (Which is the whole
> > point of this patch).
> So instead of "non-blocking" you mean "non-sleeping".
> That leaves un-answered the question of what to do when
> the SPI bus is busy performing some other transfer.  I
> looked at your [2/2] patch, and saw it ignoring that very
> basic issue ... this new call will just poke at the bus,
> trashing any transfer that was ongoing.

We use s3c24xx_gpio as the master, which is a very simple gpio based

Yes, it is with this intention, interrupts are disabled around the
actual bitbang code, so that it completes without being interrupted.
Doesn't this guarantee atomicity ?

> > > Why are you even trying to touch SPI devices from hardirq
> > > context?  That's never going to be OK; "can't-sleep" contexts
> > > don't mix with "must-sleep" calls.
> > 
> > Accelerometers can produce a huge amount of data and we need to quickly
> > read them to avoid overruns. Also, scheduling workers for this greatly
> > increases the number of context switches, unnecessarily.
> That sounds like a performance issue with the spi_master driver
> you're using.  Using the bitbang framework, and worker tasks, is
> a good way to get something going quickly.  But if I wanted high
> performance, I'd likely use a more traditional driver structure
> (with no tasks, IRQ driven, DMA).  Or I might just increase the
> priority of the relevant tasks; depends on what bottlenecks turn
> up when I measure things.

OK, true. But since the master here is a simple s3c24xx based gpio
bitbang, we can't do DMA, or bitbang is the only way to go.

> That might combine with sub-optimal design for your accelerometer
> driver or hardware.  Can you keep multiple transfers queued?  Are
> you using async messaging intelligently?

No, we can't queue multiple transfers. It would be very helpful if it
were so.

> > > > This series adds a new interface for this and modifies no existing ones.
> > > 
> > > NAK on these two patches.
> > > 
> > 
> > Ok, it will be helpful if you please suggest an alternative keeping in
> > mind the huge amount of data produced by the accelerometer and the need
> > to read them quickly ?
> If your spi_master driver isn't using DMA, fix that.  Nothing
> else addresses "huge amount of data" well at all.
> If some driver -- spi_master, accelerometer, or whatever -- is
> introducing context switch delays in critical paths, get rid of
> those.  The gap between one DMA transfer and the next can be on
> the order of one IRQ latency, using current interfaces, if the
> drivers are decently written.

Since it's a simple gpio bitbang we are using, we cannot do DMA, isn't
it ? Sorry, I'm still not convinced of a way to make it work with
queueable transfers. Do you still say that spi_async is the way to go ?
Please explain.

Thanks a lot for your time.

- Balaji
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