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Date:	Sat, 8 Mar 2014 12:33:12 +0200
From:	Tomi Valkeinen <>
To:	Grant Likely <>,
	Philipp Zabel <>
CC:	Sascha Hauer <>,
	Rob Herring <>,
	Russell King - ARM Linux <>,
	Mauro Carvalho Chehab <>,
	Rob Herring <>,
	Sylwester Nawrocki <>,
	Laurent Pinchart <>,
	Kyungmin Park <>,
	"" <>,
	"" <>,
	"" <>,
	Philipp Zabel <>
Subject: Re: [RFC PATCH] [media]: of: move graph helpers from drivers/media/v4l2-core
 to drivers/of

On 07/03/14 19:05, Grant Likely wrote:
> On Wed, 26 Feb 2014 15:48:49 +0100, Philipp Zabel <> wrote:
>> Hi Grant,
>> thank you for the comments.
> Hi Philipp,
> I've got lots of comments and quesitons below, but I must say thank you
> for doing this. It is a helpful description.

Thanks for the comments. I'll answer from my point of view, which may be
different than Philipp's.

> Bear with me, I'm going to comment on each point. I'm not criticizing,
> but I do want to understand the HW design. In particular I want to
> understand why the linkage is treated as bidirectional instead of one
> device being the master.
> In this specific example, what would be managing the transfer? Is there
> an overarching driver that assembles the pieces, or would you expect
> individual drivers to find each other?

The direction of the dataflow depends on the case. For camera, the data
flows from external components towards the SoC. For display, vice versa.
I don't know much about camera, but for display there are bi-directional
buses, like MIPI DBI and MIPI DSI. However, in those cases, the main
flow direction is clear, towards the display.

Then again, these are meant to be generic graph bindings, and the
dataflow could be fully bi-directional.

As for the driver model (does it matter when we are talking about DT
bindings?), I think there are very different opinions. My thought for
display is that there is always an overarching driver, something that
manages the video pipeline as a whole.

However, each of the individual drivers in the video pipeline will
control its input ports. So, say, a panel driver gets a command from the
overarching control driver to enable the panel device. The panel driver
reacts by calling the encoder (i.e. the one that outputs pixels to the
panel), commanding it to enable the video stream.

I know some (many?) people think the other way around, that the encoder
commands the panel to enable itself. I don't think that's versatile
enough. As a theoretical, slightly exaggerated, example, we could have a
panel that wants the pixel clock to be enabled for a short while before
enabling the actual pixel stream. And maybe the panel driver needs to do
something before the pixel stream is enabled (say, send a command to the

The above is very easy to do if the panel driver is in control of the
received video stream. It's rather difficult to do if the encoder is in

Also, I think a panel (or any encoder) can be compared to a display
controller: a display controller uses DMA to transfer pixel data from
the memory to the display controller. A panel or encoder uses the
incoming video bus to transfer pixel data from the previous display
component to the panel or encoder device. And I don't think anyone says
the DMA driver should be in control of the display controller.

But this is going quite a bit into the SW architecture. Does it matter
when we are talking about the representation of HW in the DT data?

> In all of the above examples I see a unidirectional data flow. There are
> producer ports and consumer ports. Is there any (reasonable) possibility
> of peer ports that are bidirectional?

Yes, as I mentioned above. However, I do believe that at the moment all
the cases have a clear a main direction. But then, if these are generic
bindings, do we want to rely on that?

>> According to video-interfaces.txt, it is expected that endpoints contain
>> phandles pointing to the remote endpoint on both sides. I'd like to
>> leave this up to the more specialized bindings, but I can see that this
>> makes enumerating the connections starting from each device tree node
>> easier, for example at probe time.
> This has come up in the past. That approach comes down to premature
> optimization at the expense of making the data structure more prone to
> inconsistency. I consider it to be a bad pattern.
> Backlinks are good for things like dynamically linked lists that need to
> be fast and the software fully manages the links. For a data structure like
> the FDT it is better to have the data in one place, and one place only.
> Besides, computers are *good* at parsing data structures. :-)
> I appreciate that existing drivers may be using the backlinks, but I
> strongly recommend not doing it for new users.

Ok. If we go for single directional link, the question is then: which
way? And is the direction different for display and camera, which are
kind of reflections of each other?

> Another thought. In terms of the pattern, I would add a recommendation
> that there should be a way to identify ports of a particular type. ie.
> If I were using the pattern to implement an patch bay of DSP filters,
> where each input and output, then each target node should have a unique
> identifier property analogous to "interrupt-controller" or
> "gpio-controller". In this fictitious example I would probably choose
> "audiostream-input-port" and "audiostream-output-port" as empty
> properties in the port nodes. (I'm not suggesting a change to the
> existing binding, but making a recommendation to new users).

I don't see any harm in that, but I don't right away see what could be
done with them? Did you have something in mind?

I guess those could be used to study the graph before the drivers have
been loaded. After the drivers have been loaded, the drivers should
somehow register themselves and the ports/endpoints. And as the driver
knows what kind of ports they are, it can supply this information in the
runtime data structures.

If we do that, would it be better to have two pieces of data:
input/output/bi-directional, and the port type (say, mipi-dpi, lvds, etc.)?


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