Re: [PATCH v4 1/4] Produce system time from correlated clocksource

From: John Stultz
Date: Mon Nov 09 2015 - 16:17:47 EST

On Tue, Nov 3, 2015 at 11:18 AM, Stanton, Kevin B
<kevin.b.stanton@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> On Wed, 21 Oct 2015, Thomas Gleixner wrote:
>> On Tue, 20 Oct 2015, John Stultz wrote:
>>> Being able to have various hardware sharing a time base is quite
>>> useful, and methods for correlating timestamps together are useful.
>>> But I don't yet really understand why its important that we can
>>> translate a hardware timestamp from some time in the past to the
>>> correct system time in the past without error.
>>If your device can only provide timestamps from the past, then
>>having access to the history is important if you want to have
>>precise correlation.
> I hope this can be solved in timekeeping. But first, a quick
> recap...
> The timestamp pair (including the ART snapshot, as described
> previously) is captured simultaneously by the hardware
> resulting, effectively, in a (PTP,TSC) pair, or
> (AudioPosition,TSC) pair. The in-the-past-TSC value needs to be
> converted to system time so that it can be used by applications,
> without exposing the underlying ART or TSC.
> Note: ART is architectural, defined as part of Invariant
> Timekeeping in the current SDM, so this isn't a one-off
> capability.
> To convert a past TSC timestamp to system time 'correctly' (in a
> mathematical sense), a history of monotonic rate adjustments
> since that time in the past must be maintained.

But again, my main problem is that I'm not totally understanding the rational.
Here you're providing the *what*, not really the *why*.

As I mentioned earlier, there are possibly simpler (at least for the
kernel) ways to generate similar data using CLOCK_MONOTONIC_RAW, which
has potentially a 500ppm error. *Why* is it important to add more
complexity to the timekeeping core in order to avoid that error?

> Regarding the amount of history, as Chris mentioned (and
> in the context of new Intel hardware) LAN timestamp pairs are
> a few microseconds in the past (no history would be required),
> but for timestamps captured by the audio DSP, unfortunately,
> they can be a small number of *milliseconds* in the past by the
> time they're available to the audio driver (some history
> required to convert accurately). I'm told that 4ms of adjustment
> history accommodates known hardware.

For a timestamp recorded 4ms ago, 500ppm of error is 2us. Why is 2us
problematic for audio? That seems quite below the human threshold to

> Getting this 'correct' in one place (timekeeping) seems a lot
> better than unnecessarily introducing inaccuracy via software
> sampling (and extrapolation) or leaving it to each driver to do
> it themselves, and to do it differently (and/or do it wrongly).

Having a common infrastructure for extrapolating the data isn't
something I'm objecting to. Its just that the shadow-timekeeper has
been problematic enough in recent times bug wise, so I'm just hesitant
to expand the complexity there. That said, I'm open to ideas, but
would really like a better understanding of why other solutions would
be insufficient, and why this one is the best solution.

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