Re: [RFC] Staging:IIO: New ABI

From: Jonathan Cameron
Date: Wed Jan 20 2010 - 11:53:29 EST

Hi Greg,

> On Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 03:13:40PM +0000, Jonathan Cameron wrote:
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]
>> Description:
>> Hardware chip or device accessed by on communication port.
>> Corresponds to a grouping of sensor channels.
>> What: /sys/class/iio/trigger[n]
>> Description:
>> An event driven driver of data capture to an in kernel buffer.
>> May be provided a device driver that also has an IIO device
>> based on hardware generated events (e.g. data ready) or
>> provided by other hardware (e.g. periodic timer or gpio)
>> Contains trigger type specific elements. These do not
>> generalize well.
>> What: /sys/class/iio/ring_buffer[m]
>> Description:
>> Link to /sys/class/iio/device[n]/ring_buffer[m]. Ring buffer
>> numbering may not match that of device as some devices do not
>> have ring buffers.
> Why is this link needed? Why can't you just look in the device
> directory for a ring buffer? And wouldn't the ring buffer be 1..n for
> every device? They shouldn't be "unique" for all iio devices, that
> would be wierd.
I'm a little unclear what you mean here (so my apologies if I'm misinterpreting!)
A given IIO device will indeed have a either none or typically 1 ring buffers.
They are not currently shared across devices. Aggregation if desired is done
in userspace.

Curiously enough there has been some argument in favour of a buffer per channel but
that is a whole different issue.

Reasons to have independent buffer per device:
1) Simplicity of handling a lot of data. Rates we are catering for go up to MSPs.
2) Low overheads. Using the interface given here userspace knows what is in the buffer
so you simply store data, not headers which would be needed in shared buffers.
(being able to do this is what a lot of the api below is about).
3) Applications do not desire aggregation of data from different sensors, or if they
do this is better handled in user space where we can waste time figuring out data
set alignment offline.

There are cases where a trigger is shared across multiple devices, where it may make
sense to share a ring buffer but the management of that is rather complex so has been
left for now.
e.g. How do you handle a case where a trigger is too fast for one of your two sensors
so it misses a reading without every single reading requiring a header? (toy example
of the fun that occurs!)

Also note that in some cases the ring buffer is very much unique to the device: It
is in hardware on it. (sca3000 for example)
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/name
>> Description:
>> Description of the physical chip / device. Typically a part
>> number.
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/volt_[name][m]_raw
>> Description:
>> Raw (unscaled no bias removal etc) voltage measurement from
>> channel m. name is used in special cases where this does
>> not correspond to externally available input (e.g. supply
>> voltage monitoring).
> So what would 'name' be?
This is for a few device corner cases such as volt_supply_raw for the the
adis16350 below. It can't really be used as a general purpose ADC
so the idea was to separate it out. The vast majority of voltage channels
would simply be numbered. There is an argument that, it might make sense
to support this single parameter via hwmon, but then there are high end
gyros where we would be grabbing the voltage, temperature and actual reading
on each trigger so as to be able to compensate for the huge difference
these can make to the resulting data.

>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/volt_[name][m]_offset
>> Description:
>> If known for a device, offset to be added to volt[m]_raw prior
>> to scaling by volt[m]_scale in order to obtain voltage in
>> Volts. Not present if the offset is always 0 or unknown.
>> If m is not present, then voltage offset applies to all volt
>> channels. May be writable if a variable offset is controlled
>> by the device. Note that this is different to calibbias which
>> is for devices that apply offsets to compensate for variation
>> between different instances of the part.
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/volt_[name][m]_offset_available
>> Description:
>> If a small number of discrete offset values are available, this
>> will be a space separated list. If these are independant (but
>> options the same) for individual offsets then m should not be
>> present.
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/volt_[name][m]_offset_[min|max]
>> Description:
>> If a more or less continuous range of voltage offsets are supported
>> then this specifies the minimum / maximum. If shared by all
>> volt channels then m is not present.
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/volt_[name][m]_calibbias
>> Description:
>> Hardware applied calibration offset. (assumed to fix production
>> inaccuracies)
>> What /sys/class/iio/device[n]/volt_[name][m]_calibscale
>> Description:
>> Hardware applied calibration scale factor. (assumed to fix production
>> inaccuracies)
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/volt_[name][m]_scale
>> Description:
>> If known for a device, scale to be applied to volt[m]_raw post
>> addition of volt[m]_offset in order to obtain the measured voltage
>> in volts. If shared across all voltage channels the m is not present.
> For all of these voltage measurements, why use something different from
> what the kernel already supports for the existing hardware monitoring
> devices? There is already a well-defined api for these things.
Agreed. We did consider using in0 etc as per hwmon but decided that we were
breaking sufficiently from the approach there (where the readings are always
provided in microvolts iirc) that we could change the name to something that
was a little more specific. I'm not overly tied to volt but the semantics
are different enough here (with offsets and gain passed to userspace) that
we may actually create confusion by mirroring that api.
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/accel_[x|y|z][m]_raw
>> Description:
>> Acceleration in direction x, y or z (may be arbitrarily assigned
>> but should match other such assignments on device)
>> channel m (not present if only one accelerometer channel at
>> this orientation). Has all of the equivalent parameters as per volt[m].
>> Units after application of scale and offset are m/s^2.
> Shouldn't this just use the existing input accelerometer interface so as
> to keep userspace sane?
Again, it comes down to whether we process the data or not. IIO is all about
the ability to handle things fast. These sysfs interfaces are actually meant
to mirror the chrdev ring buffer accesses which are the primary access point
for higher end devices. A lot of the use cases are either interested in logging
for later use, or algorithms that will run in the device units (sometime in integer
arithmetic). Hence all conversion to sane units is left to userspace. The
drivers merely provide sufficient information to do this conversion if it
is desired.
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/gyro_[x|y|z][m]_raw
>> Description:
>> Angular velocity about axis x,y or z (may be arbitrarily assigned)
>> channel m (not present if only one gyroscope at this orientation).
>> Data converted by application of offset then scale to
>> radians per second. Has all the equivalent parameters as per volt[m].
> Same as above, I think we already have an api for this.
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/mag_[x|y|z][m]_raw
>> Description:
>> Magnetic field along axis x, y or z (may be arbitrarily assigned)
>> channel m (not present if only one magnetometer at this orientation).
>> Data converted by application of offset then scale to Gauss
>> Has all the equivalent modifiers as per volt[m].
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/pressure[m]_raw
>> Description:
>> Barometric pressure
>> //Lots more to add along a similar vain.
> Again, look at the existing apis, if we don't have the exiting units and
> types, we can always add them, instead of making up new ones burried in
> the iio class stuff.
I'm happy matching units (post conversion) but we really really don't want
to convert in kernel. When you are dealing with a few hundred Hz this is fine,
here it could mean halving your maximum sample rate or worse. Just consider
the loops some hwmon drivers jump through to do this in integer arithmetic
(I know, I wrote one of the most hideous ;)
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/event_line[m]
>> Description:
>> Configuration of which hardware generated events are passed up to
>> userspace. Some of these are a bit complex to generalize so this
>> section is a work in progress.
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/event_line[m]/dev
>> Description:
>> major:minor character device numbers.
> No, don't bury devices down a level in sysfs, that's not ok. Actually,
> I think it would take you a lot of work to get this to properly work on
> the implementation side :)
This bit of the documentation is indeed wrong (oops). These are members of the IIO
class and so this is just a link (much like the event elements in input) created
by making them in class iio with the device as a a parent. Again, application
wise we aren't normally interested in aggregation so there is one (or more) of these
per device.
> If event_lines need device nodes, then they should be real devices.
(oops) The are ;)
> Actually, all of this looks like it needs to be a bus, not a class, if
> you are having this many different types of things hanging off of them.
> Have you thought about that instead? It would make your code a lot
> easier in the end.
That is definitely an option. The reason we didn't is more to do with following
the most similar current case (input) than any particular preference.
>> Again taking accel_x0 as example and serious liberties with ABI spec.
>> What: /sys/.../event_line[m]/accel_x0_thresh[_high|_low]
>> Description:
>> Event generated when accel_x0 passes a threshold in correction direction
>> (or stays beyond one). If direction isn't specified, either triggers it.
>> Note driver will assume last p events requested are enabled where p is
>> however many it supports. So if you want to be sure you have
>> set what you think you have, check the contents of these. Drivers
>> may have to buffer any parameters so that they are consistent when a
>> given event type is enabled a future point (and not those for whatever
>> alarm was previously enabled).
>> What: /sys/.../event_line[m]/accel_x0_roc[_high|_low]
>> Description:
>> Same as above but based on the first differential of the value.
>> What: /sys/.../event_line[m]/accel_x0[_thresh|_roc][_high|_low]_period
>> Description:
>> A period of time (microsecs) for which the condition must be broken
>> before an interrupt is triggered. Applies to all alarms if type is not
>> specified.
>> What: /sys/.../event_line[m]/accel_x0[_thresh|_roc][_high|_low]_value
>> Description:
>> The actual value of the threshold either in raw device units
>> obtained by reverse application of scale and offfset to the
>> acceleration in m/s^2.
> Again, look at our existing apis, I think we already cover these types
> of things, don't create new ones please.
I am not aware of these. Could you direct me to the current api? Also note that these
aren't the actual alarms, merely a means of enabling the relevant event on the related
event character device.
>> What: /sys/.../event_line[m]/free_fall
>> Description:
>> Common hardware event in accelerometers. Takes no parameters.
> I know we have this one already, please use it.

Again, does it make sense to match api when the result is very different? The event
infrastructure in IIO is much slimmer than that in input (this was one of the original
reasons for not simply adding these things to input in the first place). This particular
example is a bit unusual in that the current api (hwmon/lis3lv02d.c for example) handles
this via a dedicated freefall character device. This doesn't really generalize to the more
complex events handled here. To be honest this one doesn't really make sense in IIO's
intended applications so it might be best to drop it entirely!

We come back to an issue that turned up in the first discussions. There are cases where
the possible use cases of some of these sensors differ so much that it may make sense
to have completely separate drivers.

>> There are many other weird and wonderful event types that we'll deal with as and when.
>> Taking accel_x0 for example of next section.
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/scan_elements/[m]_accel_x0_en
>> Description:
>> Scan element control for triggered data capture. m implies the
>> ordering within the buffer. Next the type is specified with
>> modifier and channel number as per the sysfs single channel
>> access above.
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/scan_elements/accel[_x0]_precision
>> Description:
>> Scan element precision within the ring buffer. Note that the
>> data alignment must restrictions must be read from in
>> ring_buffer to work out full data alignment for data read
>> via ring_access chrdev. _x0 dropped if shared across all
>> acceleration channels.
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/scan_elements/accel[_x0]_shift
>> Description:
>> A bit shift (to right) that must be applied prior to
>> extracting the bits specified by accel[_x0]_precision.
>> What: /sys/class/iio/device[n]/ring_buffer[m]
>> Description:
>> Ring buffer specific parameters separate. Some are influenced
>> by scan_elements.
>> What: /sys/.../ring_buffer[m]/ring_event[o]/dev
>> Description:
>> Ring buffer m event character device o major:minor numbers.
> Again, don't bury devices. Or if you are, use a bus, not a class,
> that's the wrong classification.
Cool, I'll look into making the change. What we really have here
is a single conceptual device using a pair or character interfaces. Is a bus
the right way to handle that?

How about the following under a bus (this is for a single physical chip).

event0 (for physical events)
ringaccess0 (actual device from which data is read)
ringevent0 (associated event interface for the ring - ideally not aggregated with the event0)

and sometimes:

Is that best way to go. Currently ringacces0 and ring event0 are grouped under ring_buffer0 but
that was simply for the reason they are always matched.

Thanks for the quick response!


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