Re: IIO comments

From: Jonathan Cameron
Date: Wed Mar 16 2011 - 11:33:08 EST

On 03/16/11 15:15, Arnd Bergmann wrote:
> On Wednesday 16 March 2011, Jonathan Cameron wrote:
>> On 03/16/11 13:33, Arnd Bergmann wrote:
>>> On Wednesday 16 March 2011, Jonathan Cameron wrote:
>>> It's certainly more work for the subsystem, but the intention
>>> is to simplify the individual drivers, to make things scale
>>> better as many more drivers get added.
>> I'm yet to be convinced this simplifies things. We basically move
>> from one form of big table in the drivers to another and add complexity
>> to the core. I'd be fine with that complexity if it actually simplified
>> the drivers, but I'm not sure it does. Perhaps the only way to really
>> answer that is to actually try doing it with a few drivers and see
>> where we end up.
> Yes. I'm pretty sure it's possible to do better than the current
> interface, but don't have a way to prove it.
>>>> * Whatever you pick also immediately becomes restrictive as the main
>>>> class has to be updated to handle any new elements.
>>> I believe that's a good thing, we want to limit the number
>>> of different interfaces that people come up with. If two
>>> drivers are similar enough, they should probably use the
>>> same one.
>> Limiting them is fine, but there are still an awful lot of
>> them - so we still end up with big and ugly tables.
> So we should find a way to make it a nice and small table
> instead ;-)
>> Again currently enforcement of interface is done by review.
> I believe enforcing the rules using the compiler is always
> better than by review, if all other factors are the same.
>>> It also makes it easier to verify that all attributes are
>>> documented properly, because the documentation only has
>>> to be matched with a single file, not with every single
>>> driver.
>> That would be a gain. However, the real thing you need
>> to check with use of an attribute is not it's naming
>> (which is a trivial match against the docs), but that
>> the units of whatever is returned are correct. Thus you
>> end up looking closely at the docs alongside every driver
>> anyway and trawling through datasheets.
> Are you currently printing the unit as part of the
> attribute output? If that gets handled by the core,
> any driver that tries to use something else would
> simply be considered a bug.
Nope. It's done set by the Docs. This we need to keep for compatibility
(where relevant) with hwmon. It's a bug now if it doesn't meet
the spec but you'd be amazed how often these are wrong. Sometimes
it is a nightmare figuring out from the datasheet what they actually
>>> It also forces out-of-tree modules to use the same interfaces
>>> that other drivers are using. If someone has hardware for
>>> something new, it will only have an interface to talk to
>>> after it has been discussed and documented in mainline.
>> The question this brings up is how to do we then handle the one
>> of a kind interface elements? However general our spec
>> there are always things we don't really want in the core
>> as they will only ever be used by one specific driver.
>> Right now we operate a policy which says all elements must
>> be documented, but those that are not 'general' shouldn't go
>> in the main doc files. Things can move to general the moment
>> we find a second device using them. (sometimes we are wrong
>> in thinking something is so obscure no one else will ever
>> want it). Note these obscure elements don't get supported by
>> any remotely standard userspace code. Take the TOAS 258x driver
>> from Jobn Brenner for example. That has one nasty calibration
>> attribute. Try as we might we really haven't managed to
>> blugeon that one into a 'standard' form (it's the coefficients
>> of a magic transfer function which takes into account the exact
>> glass window over the sensor). Normally we'd argue this should
>> be platform data, but Jon has real users where devices that are
>> otherwise identical have different glass - hence it must be
>> runtime controlled.
>> The moment we put a route in for registering additional attributes
>> the out-of-tree argument is weakened.
> Would it help to have multiple types of interfaces (I suppose
> you already do), each with their own table?
> This way you could enforce that all drivers of one type use
> exactly the same specification, but also make it possible
> to have new types, even those that have only one driver by
> design.
Sadly there are no clean definitions of types. You'd be amazed what
downright weird sets end up in a given device.
Might be some way of breaking it down into a set of tables though
in a vaguely coherent way. Each device would then have one or more
of these for which it would define one or more of the functions.
> In the case of the TOAS 258x driver (I can't find that in the
> tree), I fear that would still have to become a standard attribute
> of some sort.
Under review at the mo.
(I think that's the latest version - john forgot to give them numbers).
>>> The whole point would be to avoid duplication, so maybe something
>>> a little smarter is needed, but the current code duplicates the
>>> definition of attributes to every driver, and I'm sure we can
>>> find a solution that requires less code.
>> A little less perhaps, but it's still going to be a big table, just of
>> subtly different things.
>>> In many cases, you should be able to replace a long switch statement
>>> by a table driven approach inside of the driver.
>> I think the only way to answer this is to do a quick implementation of
>> this and see how well it works.
>> I'll have a crack at this sometime soon with a representative set of
>> drivers and see how it goes.
> Ok, cool! Just send out the drivers as you get there, and maybe someone
> has ideas to simplify them further if you're not happy with the
> result.
>>> If you only have the two, you might be able to handle them both
>>> in the poll function, where the regular case means POLLIN
>>> or POLLRDNORM, while the threshold interrupt gets turned
>>> I'm not sure if that covers all cases you are interested in,
>>> but it sounds like a useful simplification. It also makes
>>> it possible for user programs to only wait for one type of
>>> event.
>> I will need to have a play and get back to you on this.
>> I don't suppose there is anything similar to this in kernel
>> I could take a look at? Its not an area I'm even remotely
>> familiar with. Right now I don't see exactly how this helps us
>> with the 'out of band' messages not colliding with the main data
>> flow.
> One way to deal with out of band data (if it's more than just
> a flag)
It is effectively a flag, but there are lots of them.
> is to have an ioctl function that returns structured
> data, while the regular read function returns the buffered
> input stream.
That would work, but it is it really worth it to kill off the chrdev?
Note we still need most of the underlying structure just to keep the
various attributes well categorized.
>>> Doesn't epoll handle the event escalation with its edge triggered
>>> mode? Basically you can get notified every time that there is
>>> more to be read.
>> We also need to know how much more this is to be read. So at the
>> moment, if a 50% full turns up and isn't picked up by userspace
>> before a 75% full event, the 50% is escalated to become a 75%
>> event which userspace then receives. To be honest I'm tempted,
>> for now at least to drop this functionality. It has few users
>> and makes the events system considerably more complex. We can
>> think about how / whether to introduce it later.
> Yes, good point. I also don't get the use case of this. Why would
> user space not just always read all data that is available?
Good point. We could just move the handling of these events into the
actual driver (this is only ever relevant for hardware buffers). Thus
it could keep track of what it knows is there. Note these devices don't
always provide any other way of knowing and yes you can read more data
from them than is actually there. Whether you can tell this has happened
is very much device dependent.
>> Yup, the dynamic route to creation is what I favour. As you say
>> this needs fixing up before going out of staging. We definitely
>> need these for a bridge to input to implement polled input devices.
>> I'll put a todo in place for that element in staging so we don't
>> forget.
Note I have quite a few changes currently queued up so might be a little while
before I get to trying out the more complex stuff you have suggested.

To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in
the body of a message to majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
More majordomo info at
Please read the FAQ at