Writing an ALSA Driver--PCM Interface

General

The PCM middle layer of ALSA is quite powerful and it is only necessary for each driver to implement the low-level functions to access its hardware.

For accessing to the PCM layer, you need to include <sound/pcm.h> first. In addition, <sound/pcm_params.h> might be needed if you access to some functions related with hw_param.

Each card device can have up to four pcm instances. A pcm instance corresponds to a pcm device file. The limitation of number of instances comes only from the available bit size of the Linux's device numbers. Once when 64bit device number is used, we'll have more pcm instances available.

A pcm instance consists of pcm playback and capture streams, and each pcm stream consists of one or more pcm substreams. Some soundcards support multiple playback functions. For example, emu10k1 has a PCM playback of 32 stereo substreams. In this case, at each open, a free substream is (usually) automatically chosen and opened. Meanwhile, when only one substream exists and it was already opened, the successful open will either block or error with EAGAIN according to the file open mode. But you don't have to care about such details in your driver. The PCM middle layer will take care of such work.

 

Full Code Example

The example code below does not include any hardware access routines but shows only the skeleton, how to build up the PCM interfaces.

Example 5.1. PCM Example Code

#include <sound/pcm.h>
  ....

  /* hardware definition */
  static struct snd_pcm_hardware snd_mychip_playback_hw = {
          .info = (SNDRV_PCM_INFO_MMAP |
                   SNDRV_PCM_INFO_INTERLEAVED |
                   SNDRV_PCM_INFO_BLOCK_TRANSFER |
                   SNDRV_PCM_INFO_MMAP_VALID),
          .formats =          SNDRV_PCM_FMTBIT_S16_LE,
          .rates =            SNDRV_PCM_RATE_8000_48000,
          .rate_min =         8000,
          .rate_max =         48000,
          .channels_min =     2,
          .channels_max =     2,
          .buffer_bytes_max = 32768,
          .period_bytes_min = 4096,
          .period_bytes_max = 32768,
          .periods_min =      1,
          .periods_max =      1024,
  };

  /* hardware definition */
  static struct snd_pcm_hardware snd_mychip_capture_hw = {
          .info = (SNDRV_PCM_INFO_MMAP |
                   SNDRV_PCM_INFO_INTERLEAVED |
                   SNDRV_PCM_INFO_BLOCK_TRANSFER |
                   SNDRV_PCM_INFO_MMAP_VALID),
          .formats =          SNDRV_PCM_FMTBIT_S16_LE,
          .rates =            SNDRV_PCM_RATE_8000_48000,
          .rate_min =         8000,
          .rate_max =         48000,
          .channels_min =     2,
          .channels_max =     2,
          .buffer_bytes_max = 32768,
          .period_bytes_min = 4096,
          .period_bytes_max = 32768,
          .periods_min =      1,
          .periods_max =      1024,
  };

  /* open callback */
  static int snd_mychip_playback_open(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream)
  {
          struct mychip *chip = snd_pcm_substream_chip(substream);
          struct snd_pcm_runtime *runtime = substream->runtime;

          runtime->hw = snd_mychip_playback_hw;
          /* more hardware-initialization will be done here */
          ....
          return 0;
  }

  /* close callback */
  static int snd_mychip_playback_close(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream)
  {
          struct mychip *chip = snd_pcm_substream_chip(substream);
          /* the hardware-specific codes will be here */
          ....
          return 0;

  }

  /* open callback */
  static int snd_mychip_capture_open(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream)
  {
          struct mychip *chip = snd_pcm_substream_chip(substream);
          struct snd_pcm_runtime *runtime = substream->runtime;

          runtime->hw = snd_mychip_capture_hw;
          /* more hardware-initialization will be done here */
          ....
          return 0;
  }

  /* close callback */
  static int snd_mychip_capture_close(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream)
  {
          struct mychip *chip = snd_pcm_substream_chip(substream);
          /* the hardware-specific codes will be here */
          ....
          return 0;

  }

  /* hw_params callback */
  static int snd_mychip_pcm_hw_params(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream,
                               struct snd_pcm_hw_params *hw_params)
  {
          return snd_pcm_lib_malloc_pages(substream,
                                     params_buffer_bytes(hw_params));
  }

  /* hw_free callback */
  static int snd_mychip_pcm_hw_free(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream)
  {
          return snd_pcm_lib_free_pages(substream);
  }

  /* prepare callback */
  static int snd_mychip_pcm_prepare(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream)
  {
          struct mychip *chip = snd_pcm_substream_chip(substream);
          struct snd_pcm_runtime *runtime = substream->runtime;

          /* set up the hardware with the current configuration
           * for example...
           */
          mychip_set_sample_format(chip, runtime->format);
          mychip_set_sample_rate(chip, runtime->rate);
          mychip_set_channels(chip, runtime->channels);
          mychip_set_dma_setup(chip, runtime->dma_addr,
                               chip->buffer_size,
                               chip->period_size);
          return 0;
  }

  /* trigger callback */
  static int snd_mychip_pcm_trigger(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream,
                                    int cmd)
  {
          switch (cmd) {
          case SNDRV_PCM_TRIGGER_START:
                  /* do something to start the PCM engine */
                  ....
                  break;
          case SNDRV_PCM_TRIGGER_STOP:
                  /* do something to stop the PCM engine */
                  ....
                  break;
          default:
                  return -EINVAL;
          }
  }

  /* pointer callback */
  static snd_pcm_uframes_t
  snd_mychip_pcm_pointer(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream)
  {
          struct mychip *chip = snd_pcm_substream_chip(substream);
          unsigned int current_ptr;

          /* get the current hardware pointer */
          current_ptr = mychip_get_hw_pointer(chip);
          return current_ptr;
  }

  /* operators */
  static struct snd_pcm_ops snd_mychip_playback_ops = {
          .open =        snd_mychip_playback_open,
          .close =       snd_mychip_playback_close,
          .ioctl =       snd_pcm_lib_ioctl,
          .hw_params =   snd_mychip_pcm_hw_params,
          .hw_free =     snd_mychip_pcm_hw_free,
          .prepare =     snd_mychip_pcm_prepare,
          .trigger =     snd_mychip_pcm_trigger,
          .pointer =     snd_mychip_pcm_pointer,
  };

  /* operators */
  static struct snd_pcm_ops snd_mychip_capture_ops = {
          .open =        snd_mychip_capture_open,
          .close =       snd_mychip_capture_close,
          .ioctl =       snd_pcm_lib_ioctl,
          .hw_params =   snd_mychip_pcm_hw_params,
          .hw_free =     snd_mychip_pcm_hw_free,
          .prepare =     snd_mychip_pcm_prepare,
          .trigger =     snd_mychip_pcm_trigger,
          .pointer =     snd_mychip_pcm_pointer,
  };

  /*
   *  definitions of capture are omitted here...
   */

  /* create a pcm device */
  static int __devinit snd_mychip_new_pcm(struct mychip *chip)
  {
          struct snd_pcm *pcm;
          int err;

          err = snd_pcm_new(chip->card, "My Chip", 0, 1, 1, &pcm);
          if (err < 0) 
                  return err;
          pcm->private_data = chip;
          strcpy(pcm->name, "My Chip");
          chip->pcm = pcm;
          /* set operators */
          snd_pcm_set_ops(pcm, SNDRV_PCM_STREAM_PLAYBACK,
                          &snd_mychip_playback_ops);
          snd_pcm_set_ops(pcm, SNDRV_PCM_STREAM_CAPTURE,
                          &snd_mychip_capture_ops);
          /* pre-allocation of buffers */
          /* NOTE: this may fail */
          snd_pcm_lib_preallocate_pages_for_all(pcm, SNDRV_DMA_TYPE_DEV,
                                                snd_dma_pci_data(chip->pci),
                                                64*1024, 64*1024);
          return 0;
  }

Constructor

A pcm instance is allocated by the snd_pcm_new() function. It would be better to create a constructor for pcm, namely,

  static int __devinit snd_mychip_new_pcm(struct mychip *chip)
  {
          struct snd_pcm *pcm;
          int err;

          err = snd_pcm_new(chip->card, "My Chip", 0, 1, 1, &pcm);
          if (err < 0) 
                  return err;
          pcm->private_data = chip;
          strcpy(pcm->name, "My Chip");
          chip->pcm = pcm;
	  ....
          return 0;
  }

          

The snd_pcm_new() function takes four arguments. The first argument is the card pointer to which this pcm is assigned, and the second is the ID string.

The third argument (index, 0 in the above) is the index of this new pcm. It begins from zero. If you create more than one pcm instances, specify the different numbers in this argument. For example, index = 1 for the second PCM device.

The fourth and fifth arguments are the number of substreams for playback and capture, respectively. Here 1 is used for both arguments. When no playback or capture substreams are available, pass 0 to the corresponding argument.

If a chip supports multiple playbacks or captures, you can specify more numbers, but they must be handled properly in open/close, etc. callbacks. When you need to know which substream you are referring to, then it can be obtained from struct snd_pcm_substream data passed to each callback as follows:

  struct snd_pcm_substream *substream;
  int index = substream->number;

          

After the pcm is created, you need to set operators for each pcm stream.

  snd_pcm_set_ops(pcm, SNDRV_PCM_STREAM_PLAYBACK,
                  &snd_mychip_playback_ops);
  snd_pcm_set_ops(pcm, SNDRV_PCM_STREAM_CAPTURE,
                  &snd_mychip_capture_ops);

          

The operators are defined typically like this:

  static struct snd_pcm_ops snd_mychip_playback_ops = {
          .open =        snd_mychip_pcm_open,
          .close =       snd_mychip_pcm_close,
          .ioctl =       snd_pcm_lib_ioctl,
          .hw_params =   snd_mychip_pcm_hw_params,
          .hw_free =     snd_mychip_pcm_hw_free,
          .prepare =     snd_mychip_pcm_prepare,
          .trigger =     snd_mychip_pcm_trigger,
          .pointer =     snd_mychip_pcm_pointer,
  };

          

All the callbacks are described in the Operators subsection.

After setting the operators, you probably will want to pre-allocate the buffer. For the pre-allocation, simply call the following:

  snd_pcm_lib_preallocate_pages_for_all(pcm, SNDRV_DMA_TYPE_DEV,
                                        snd_dma_pci_data(chip->pci),
                                        64*1024, 64*1024);

          

It will allocate a buffer up to 64kB as default. Buffer management details will be described in the later section Buffer and Memory Management.

Additionally, you can set some extra information for this pcm in pcm->info_flags. The available values are defined as SNDRV_PCM_INFO_XXX in <sound/asound.h>, which is used for the hardware definition (described later). When your soundchip supports only half-duplex, specify like this:

  pcm->info_flags = SNDRV_PCM_INFO_HALF_DUPLEX;

          

... And the Destructor?

The destructor for a pcm instance is not always necessary. Since the pcm device will be released by the middle layer code automatically, you don't have to call the destructor explicitly.

The destructor would be necessary if you created special records internally and needed to release them. In such a case, set the destructor function to pcm->private_free:

Example 5.2. PCM Instance with a Destructor

  static void mychip_pcm_free(struct snd_pcm *pcm)
  {
          struct mychip *chip = snd_pcm_chip(pcm);
          /* free your own data */
          kfree(chip->my_private_pcm_data);
          /* do what you like else */
          ....
  }

  static int __devinit snd_mychip_new_pcm(struct mychip *chip)
  {
          struct snd_pcm *pcm;
          ....
          /* allocate your own data */
          chip->my_private_pcm_data = kmalloc(...);
          /* set the destructor */
          pcm->private_data = chip;
          pcm->private_free = mychip_pcm_free;
          ....
  }

          


Runtime Pointer - The Chest of PCM Information

When the PCM substream is opened, a PCM runtime instance is allocated and assigned to the substream. This pointer is accessible via substream->runtime. This runtime pointer holds most information you need to control the PCM: the copy of hw_params and sw_params configurations, the buffer pointers, mmap records, spinlocks, etc.

The definition of runtime instance is found in <sound/pcm.h>. Here are the contents of this file:

struct _snd_pcm_runtime {
	/* -- Status -- */
	struct snd_pcm_substream *trigger_master;
	snd_timestamp_t trigger_tstamp;	/* trigger timestamp */
	int overrange;
	snd_pcm_uframes_t avail_max;
	snd_pcm_uframes_t hw_ptr_base;	/* Position at buffer restart */
	snd_pcm_uframes_t hw_ptr_interrupt; /* Position at interrupt time*/

	/* -- HW params -- */
	snd_pcm_access_t access;	/* access mode */
	snd_pcm_format_t format;	/* SNDRV_PCM_FORMAT_* */
	snd_pcm_subformat_t subformat;	/* subformat */
	unsigned int rate;		/* rate in Hz */
	unsigned int channels;		/* channels */
	snd_pcm_uframes_t period_size;	/* period size */
	unsigned int periods;		/* periods */
	snd_pcm_uframes_t buffer_size;	/* buffer size */
	unsigned int tick_time;		/* tick time */
	snd_pcm_uframes_t min_align;	/* Min alignment for the format */
	size_t byte_align;
	unsigned int frame_bits;
	unsigned int sample_bits;
	unsigned int info;
	unsigned int rate_num;
	unsigned int rate_den;

	/* -- SW params -- */
	struct timespec tstamp_mode;	/* mmap timestamp is updated */
  	unsigned int period_step;
	unsigned int sleep_min;		/* min ticks to sleep */
	snd_pcm_uframes_t start_threshold;
	snd_pcm_uframes_t stop_threshold;
	snd_pcm_uframes_t silence_threshold; /* Silence filling happens when
						noise is nearest than this */
	snd_pcm_uframes_t silence_size;	/* Silence filling size */
	snd_pcm_uframes_t boundary;	/* pointers wrap point */

	snd_pcm_uframes_t silenced_start;
	snd_pcm_uframes_t silenced_size;

	snd_pcm_sync_id_t sync;		/* hardware synchronization ID */

	/* -- mmap -- */
	volatile struct snd_pcm_mmap_status *status;
	volatile struct snd_pcm_mmap_control *control;
	atomic_t mmap_count;

	/* -- locking / scheduling -- */
	spinlock_t lock;
	wait_queue_head_t sleep;
	struct timer_list tick_timer;
	struct fasync_struct *fasync;

	/* -- private section -- */
	void *private_data;
	void (*private_free)(struct snd_pcm_runtime *runtime);

	/* -- hardware description -- */
	struct snd_pcm_hardware hw;
	struct snd_pcm_hw_constraints hw_constraints;

	/* -- interrupt callbacks -- */
	void (*transfer_ack_begin)(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream);
	void (*transfer_ack_end)(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream);

	/* -- timer -- */
	unsigned int timer_resolution;	/* timer resolution */

	/* -- DMA -- */           
	unsigned char *dma_area;	/* DMA area */
	dma_addr_t dma_addr;		/* physical bus address (not accessible from main CPU) */
	size_t dma_bytes;		/* size of DMA area */

	struct snd_dma_buffer *dma_buffer_p;	/* allocated buffer */

#if defined(CONFIG_SND_PCM_OSS) || defined(CONFIG_SND_PCM_OSS_MODULE)
	/* -- OSS things -- */
	struct snd_pcm_oss_runtime oss;
#endif
};

            

For the operators (callbacks) of each sound driver, most of these records are supposed to be read-only. Only the PCM middle-layer changes / updates them. The exceptions are the hardware description (hw), interrupt callbacks (transfer_ack_xxx), DMA buffer information, and the private data. Besides, if you use the standard buffer allocation method via snd_pcm_lib_malloc_pages(), you don't need to set the DMA buffer information by yourself.

In the sections below, important records are explained.

Hardware Description

The hardware descriptor (struct snd_pcm_hardware) contains the definitions of the fundamental hardware configuration. Above all, you'll need to define this in the open callback. Note that the runtime instance holds the copy of the descriptor, not the pointer to the existing descriptor. That is, in the open callback, you can modify the copied descriptor (runtime->hw) as you need. For example, if the maximum number of channels is 1 only on some chip models, you can still use the same hardware descriptor and change the channels_max later:

          struct snd_pcm_runtime *runtime = substream->runtime;
          ...
          runtime->hw = snd_mychip_playback_hw; /* common definition */
          if (chip->model == VERY_OLD_ONE)
                  runtime->hw.channels_max = 1;

            

Typically, you'll have a hardware descriptor as below:

  static struct snd_pcm_hardware snd_mychip_playback_hw = {
          .info = (SNDRV_PCM_INFO_MMAP |
                   SNDRV_PCM_INFO_INTERLEAVED |
                   SNDRV_PCM_INFO_BLOCK_TRANSFER |
                   SNDRV_PCM_INFO_MMAP_VALID),
          .formats =          SNDRV_PCM_FMTBIT_S16_LE,
          .rates =            SNDRV_PCM_RATE_8000_48000,
          .rate_min =         8000,
          .rate_max =         48000,
          .channels_min =     2,
          .channels_max =     2,
          .buffer_bytes_max = 32768,
          .period_bytes_min = 4096,
          .period_bytes_max = 32768,
          .periods_min =      1,
          .periods_max =      1024,
  };

            

  • The info field contains the type and capabilities of this pcm. The bit flags are defined in <sound/asound.h> as SNDRV_PCM_INFO_XXX. Here, at least, you have to specify whether the mmap is supported and which interleaved format is supported. When the is supported, add the SNDRV_PCM_INFO_MMAP flag here. When the hardware supports the interleaved or the non-interleaved formats, SNDRV_PCM_INFO_INTERLEAVED or SNDRV_PCM_INFO_NONINTERLEAVED flag must be set, respectively. If both are supported, you can set both, too.

    In the above example, MMAP_VALID and BLOCK_TRANSFER are specified for the OSS mmap mode. Usually both are set. Of course, MMAP_VALID is set only if the mmap is really supported.

    The other possible flags are SNDRV_PCM_INFO_PAUSE and SNDRV_PCM_INFO_RESUME. The PAUSE bit means that the pcm supports the pause operation, while the RESUME bit means that the pcm supports the full suspend/resume operation. If the PAUSE flag is set, the trigger callback below must handle the corresponding (pause push/release) commands. The suspend/resume trigger commands can be defined even without the RESUME flag. See Power Management section for details.

    When the PCM substreams can be synchronized (typically, synchronized start/stop of a playback and a capture streams), you can give SNDRV_PCM_INFO_SYNC_START, too. In this case, you'll need to check the linked-list of PCM substreams in the trigger callback. This will be described in the later section.

  • formats field contains the bit-flags of supported formats (SNDRV_PCM_FMTBIT_XXX). If the hardware supports more than one format, give all or'ed bits. In the example above, the signed 16bit little-endian format is specified.

  • rates field contains the bit-flags of supported rates (SNDRV_PCM_RATE_XXX). When the chip supports continuous rates, pass CONTINUOUS bit additionally. The pre-defined rate bits are provided only for typical rates. If your chip supports unconventional rates, you need to add the KNOT bit and set up the hardware constraint manually (explained later).

  • rate_min and rate_max define the minimum and maximum sample rate. This should correspond somehow to rates bits.

  • channel_min and channel_max define, as you might already expected, the minimum and maximum number of channels.

  • buffer_bytes_max defines the maximum buffer size in bytes. There is no buffer_bytes_min field, since it can be calculated from the minimum period size and the minimum number of periods. Meanwhile, period_bytes_min and define the minimum and maximum size of the period in bytes. periods_max and periods_min define the maximum and minimum number of periods in the buffer.

    The period is a term that corresponds to a fragment in the OSS world. The period defines the size at which a PCM interrupt is generated. This size strongly depends on the hardware. Generally, the smaller period size will give you more interrupts, that is, more controls. In the case of capture, this size defines the input latency. On the other hand, the whole buffer size defines the output latency for the playback direction.

  • There is also a field fifo_size. This specifies the size of the hardware FIFO, but currently it is neither used in the driver nor in the alsa-lib. So, you can ignore this field.

PCM Configurations

Ok, let's go back again to the PCM runtime records. The most frequently referred records in the runtime instance are the PCM configurations. The PCM configurations are stored in the runtime instance after the application sends hw_params data via alsa-lib. There are many fields copied from hw_params and sw_params structs. For example, format holds the format type chosen by the application. This field contains the enum value SNDRV_PCM_FORMAT_XXX.

One thing to be noted is that the configured buffer and period sizes are stored in frames in the runtime. In the ALSA world, 1 frame = channels * samples-size. For conversion between frames and bytes, you can use the frames_to_bytes() and bytes_to_frames() helper functions.

  period_bytes = frames_to_bytes(runtime, runtime->period_size);

            

Also, many software parameters (sw_params) are stored in frames, too. Please check the type of the field. snd_pcm_uframes_t is for the frames as unsigned integer while snd_pcm_sframes_t is for the frames as signed integer.

DMA Buffer Information

The DMA buffer is defined by the following four fields, dma_area, dma_addr, dma_bytes and dma_private. The dma_area holds the buffer pointer (the logical address). You can call memcpy from/to this pointer. Meanwhile, dma_addr holds the physical address of the buffer. This field is specified only when the buffer is a linear buffer. dma_bytes holds the size of buffer in bytes. dma_private is used for the ALSA DMA allocator.

If you use a standard ALSA function, snd_pcm_lib_malloc_pages(), for allocating the buffer, these fields are set by the ALSA middle layer, and you should not change them by yourself. You can read them but not write them. On the other hand, if you want to allocate the buffer by yourself, you'll need to manage it in hw_params callback. At least, dma_bytes is mandatory. dma_area is necessary when the buffer is mmapped. If your driver doesn't support mmap, this field is not necessary. dma_addr is also optional. You can use dma_private as you like, too.

Running Status

The running status can be referred via runtime->status. This is the pointer to the struct snd_pcm_mmap_status record. For example, you can get the current DMA hardware pointer via runtime->status->hw_ptr.

The DMA application pointer can be referred via runtime->control, which points to the struct snd_pcm_mmap_control record. However, accessing directly to this value is not recommended.

Private Data

You can allocate a record for the substream and store it in runtime->private_data. Usually, this is done in the open callback. Don't mix this with pcm->private_data. The pcm->private_data usually points to the chip instance assigned statically at the creation of PCM, while the runtime->private_data points to a dynamic data structure created at the PCM open callback.

  static int snd_xxx_open(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream)
  {
          struct my_pcm_data *data;
          ....
          data = kmalloc(sizeof(*data), GFP_KERNEL);
          substream->runtime->private_data = data;
          ....
  }

            

The allocated object must be released in the close callback.

Interrupt Callbacks

The field transfer_ack_begin and transfer_ack_end are called at the beginning and at the end of snd_pcm_period_elapsed(), respectively.

Operators

OK, now let me give details about each pcm callback (ops). In general, every callback must return 0 if successful, or a negative error number such as -EINVAL. To choose an appropriate error number, it is advised to check what value other parts of the kernel return when the same kind of request fails.

The callback function takes at least the argument with snd_pcm_substream pointer. To retrieve the chip record from the given substream instance, you can use the following macro.

  int xxx() {
          struct mychip *chip = snd_pcm_substream_chip(substream);
          ....
  }

          

The macro reads substream->private_data, which is a copy of pcm->private_data. You can override the former if you need to assign different data records per PCM substream. For example, the cmi8330 driver assigns different private_data for playback and capture directions, because it uses two different codecs (SB- and AD-compatible) for different directions.

open callback

  static int snd_xxx_open(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream);

            

This is called when a pcm substream is opened.

At least, here you have to initialize the runtime->hw record. Typically, this is done by like this:

  static int snd_xxx_open(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream)
  {
          struct mychip *chip = snd_pcm_substream_chip(substream);
          struct snd_pcm_runtime *runtime = substream->runtime;

          runtime->hw = snd_mychip_playback_hw;
          return 0;
  }

            

where snd_mychip_playback_hw is the pre-defined hardware description.

You can allocate a private data in this callback, as described in Private Data section.

If the hardware configuration needs more constraints, set the hardware constraints here, too. See Constraints for more details.

close callback

  static int snd_xxx_close(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream);

            

Obviously, this is called when a pcm substream is closed.

Any private instance for a pcm substream allocated in the open callback will be released here.

  static int snd_xxx_close(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream)
  {
          ....
          kfree(substream->runtime->private_data);
          ....
  }

            

ioctl callback

This is used for any special call to pcm ioctls. But usually you can pass a generic ioctl callback, snd_pcm_lib_ioctl.

hw_params callback

  static int snd_xxx_hw_params(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream,
                               struct snd_pcm_hw_params *hw_params);

            

This is called when the hardware parameter (hw_params) is set up by the application, that is, once when the buffer size, the period size, the format, etc. are defined for the pcm substream.

Many hardware setups should be done in this callback, including the allocation of buffers.

Parameters to be initialized are retrieved by params_xxx() macros. To allocate buffer, you can call a helper function,

  snd_pcm_lib_malloc_pages(substream, params_buffer_bytes(hw_params));

            

snd_pcm_lib_malloc_pages() is available only when the DMA buffers have been pre-allocated. See the section Buffer Types for more details.

Note that this and prepare callbacks may be called multiple times per initialization. For example, the OSS emulation may call these callbacks at each change via its ioctl.

Thus, you need to be careful not to allocate the same buffers many times, which will lead to memory leaks! Calling the helper function above many times is OK. It will release the previous buffer automatically when it was already allocated.

Another note is that this callback is non-atomic (schedulable). This is important, because the trigger callback is atomic (non-schedulable). That is, mutexes or any schedule-related functions are not available in trigger callback. Please see the subsection Atomicity for details.

hw_free callback

  static int snd_xxx_hw_free(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream);

            

This is called to release the resources allocated via hw_params. For example, releasing the buffer via snd_pcm_lib_malloc_pages() is done by calling the following:

  snd_pcm_lib_free_pages(substream);

            

This function is always called before the close callback is called. Also, the callback may be called multiple times, too. Keep track whether the resource was already released.

prepare callback

  static int snd_xxx_prepare(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream);

            

This callback is called when the pcm is prepared. You can set the format type, sample rate, etc. here. The difference from hw_params is that the prepare callback will be called each time snd_pcm_prepare() is called, i.e. when recovering after underruns, etc.

Note that this callback is now non-atomic. You can use schedule-related functions safely in this callback.

In this and the following callbacks, you can refer to the values via the runtime record, substream->runtime. For example, to get the current rate, format or channels, access to runtime->rate, runtime->format or runtime->channels, respectively. The physical address of the allocated buffer is set to runtime->dma_area. The buffer and period sizes are in runtime->buffer_size and runtime->period_size, respectively.

Be careful that this callback will be called many times at each setup, too.

trigger callback

  static int snd_xxx_trigger(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream, int cmd);

            

This is called when the pcm is started, stopped or paused.

Which action is specified in the second argument, SNDRV_PCM_TRIGGER_XXX in <sound/pcm.h>. At least, the START and STOP commands must be defined in this callback.

  switch (cmd) {
  case SNDRV_PCM_TRIGGER_START:
          /* do something to start the PCM engine */
          break;
  case SNDRV_PCM_TRIGGER_STOP:
          /* do something to stop the PCM engine */
          break;
  default:
          return -EINVAL;
  }

            

When the pcm supports the pause operation (given in the info field of the hardware table), the PAUSE_PUSE and PAUSE_RELEASE commands must be handled here, too. The former is the command to pause the pcm, and the latter to restart the pcm again.

When the pcm supports the suspend/resume operation, regardless of full or partial suspend/resume support, the SUSPEND and RESUME commands must be handled, too. These commands are issued when the power-management status is changed. Obviously, the SUSPEND and RESUME commands suspend and resume the pcm substream, and usually, they are identical to the STOP and START commands, respectively. See the Power Management section for details.

As mentioned, this callback is atomic. You cannot call functions which may sleep. The trigger callback should be as minimal as possible, just really triggering the DMA. The other stuff should be initialized hw_params and prepare callbacks properly beforehand.

pointer callback

  static snd_pcm_uframes_t snd_xxx_pointer(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream)

            

This callback is called when the PCM middle layer inquires the current hardware position on the buffer. The position must be returned in frames, ranging from 0 to buffer_size - 1.

This is called usually from the buffer-update routine in the pcm middle layer, which is invoked when snd_pcm_period_elapsed() is called in the interrupt routine. Then the pcm middle layer updates the position and calculates the available space, and wakes up the sleeping poll threads, etc.

This callback is also atomic.

copy and silence callbacks

These callbacks are not mandatory, and can be omitted in most cases. These callbacks are used when the hardware buffer cannot be in the normal memory space. Some chips have their own buffer on the hardware which is not mappable. In such a case, you have to transfer the data manually from the memory buffer to the hardware buffer. Or, if the buffer is non-contiguous on both physical and virtual memory spaces, these callbacks must be defined, too.

If these two callbacks are defined, copy and set-silence operations are done by them. The detailed will be described in the later section Buffer and Memory Management.

ack callback

This callback is also not mandatory. This callback is called when the appl_ptr is updated in read or write operations. Some drivers like emu10k1-fx and cs46xx need to track the current appl_ptr for the internal buffer, and this callback is useful only for such a purpose.

This callback is atomic.

page callback

This callback is optional too. This callback is used mainly for non-contiguous buffers. The mmap calls this callback to get the page address. Some examples will be explained in the later section Buffer and Memory Management, too.

Interrupt Handler

The rest of pcm stuff is the PCM interrupt handler. The role of PCM interrupt handler in the sound driver is to update the buffer position and to tell the PCM middle layer when the buffer position goes across the prescribed period size. To inform this, call the snd_pcm_period_elapsed() function.

There are several types of sound chips to generate the interrupts.

Interrupts at the period (fragment) boundary

This is the most frequently found type: the hardware generates an interrupt at each period boundary. In this case, you can call snd_pcm_period_elapsed() at each interrupt.

snd_pcm_period_elapsed() takes the substream pointer as its argument. Thus, you need to keep the substream pointer accessible from the chip instance. For example, define substream field in the chip record to hold the current running substream pointer, and set the pointer value at open callback (and reset at close callback).

If you acquire a spinlock in the interrupt handler, and the lock is used in other pcm callbacks, too, then you have to release the lock before calling snd_pcm_period_elapsed(), because snd_pcm_period_elapsed() calls other pcm callbacks inside.

Typical code would be like:

Example 5.3. Interrupt Handler Case #1

  static irqreturn_t snd_mychip_interrupt(int irq, void *dev_id)
  {
          struct mychip *chip = dev_id;
          spin_lock(&chip->lock);
          ....
          if (pcm_irq_invoked(chip)) {
                  /* call updater, unlock before it */
                  spin_unlock(&chip->lock);
                  snd_pcm_period_elapsed(chip->substream);
                  spin_lock(&chip->lock);
                  /* acknowledge the interrupt if necessary */
          }
          ....
          spin_unlock(&chip->lock);
          return IRQ_HANDLED;
  }

            


High frequency timer interrupts

This happense when the hardware doesn't generate interrupts at the period boundary but issues timer interrupts at a fixed timer rate (e.g. es1968 or ymfpci drivers). In this case, you need to check the current hardware position and accumulate the processed sample length at each interrupt. When the accumulated size exceeds the period size, call snd_pcm_period_elapsed() and reset the accumulator.

Typical code would be like the following.

Example 5.4. Interrupt Handler Case #2

  static irqreturn_t snd_mychip_interrupt(int irq, void *dev_id)
  {
          struct mychip *chip = dev_id;
          spin_lock(&chip->lock);
          ....
          if (pcm_irq_invoked(chip)) {
                  unsigned int last_ptr, size;
                  /* get the current hardware pointer (in frames) */
                  last_ptr = get_hw_ptr(chip);
                  /* calculate the processed frames since the
                   * last update
                   */
                  if (last_ptr < chip->last_ptr)
                          size = runtime->buffer_size + last_ptr 
                                   - chip->last_ptr; 
                  else
                          size = last_ptr - chip->last_ptr;
                  /* remember the last updated point */
                  chip->last_ptr = last_ptr;
                  /* accumulate the size */
                  chip->size += size;
                  /* over the period boundary? */
                  if (chip->size >= runtime->period_size) {
                          /* reset the accumulator */
                          chip->size %= runtime->period_size;
                          /* call updater */
                          spin_unlock(&chip->lock);
                          snd_pcm_period_elapsed(substream);
                          spin_lock(&chip->lock);
                  }
                  /* acknowledge the interrupt if necessary */
          }
          ....
          spin_unlock(&chip->lock);
          return IRQ_HANDLED;
  }

            


On calling snd_pcm_period_elapsed()

In both cases, even if more than one period are elapsed, you don't have to call snd_pcm_period_elapsed() many times. Call only once. And the pcm layer will check the current hardware pointer and update to the latest status.

Atomicity

One of the most important (and thus difficult to debug) problems in kernel programming are race conditions. In the Linux kernel, they are usually avoided via spin-locks, mutexes or semaphores. In general, if a race condition can happen in an interrupt handler, it has to be managed atomically, and you have to use a spinlock to protect the critical session. If the critical section is not in interrupt handler code and if taking a relatively long time to execute is acceptable, you should use mutexes or semaphores instead.

As already seen, some pcm callbacks are atomic and some are not. For example, the hw_params callback is non-atomic, while trigger callback is atomic. This means, the latter is called already in a spinlock held by the PCM middle layer. Please take this atomicity into account when you choose a locking scheme in the callbacks.

In the atomic callbacks, you cannot use functions which may call schedule or go to sleep. Semaphores and mutexes can sleep, and hence they cannot be used inside the atomic callbacks (e.g. trigger callback). To implement some delay in such a callback, please use udelay() or mdelay().

All three atomic callbacks (trigger, pointer, and ack) are called with local interrupts disabled.

Constraints

If your chip supports unconventional sample rates, or only the limited samples, you need to set a constraint for the condition.

For example, in order to restrict the sample rates in the some supported values, use snd_pcm_hw_constraint_list(). You need to call this function in the open callback.

Example 5.5. Example of Hardware Constraints

  static unsigned int rates[] =
          {4000, 10000, 22050, 44100};
  static struct snd_pcm_hw_constraint_list constraints_rates = {
          .count = ARRAY_SIZE(rates),
          .list = rates,
          .mask = 0,
  };

  static int snd_mychip_pcm_open(struct snd_pcm_substream *substream)
  {
          int err;
          ....
          err = snd_pcm_hw_constraint_list(substream->runtime, 0,
                                           SNDRV_PCM_HW_PARAM_RATE,
                                           &constraints_rates);
          if (err < 0)
                  return err;
          ....
  }

          


There are many different constraints. Look at sound/pcm.h for a complete list. You can even define your own constraint rules. For example, let's suppose my_chip can manage a substream of 1 channel if and only if the format is S16_LE, otherwise it supports any format specified in the snd_pcm_hardware structure (or in any other constraint_list). You can build a rule like this:

Example 5.6. Example of Hardware Constraints for Channels

  static int hw_rule_format_by_channels(struct snd_pcm_hw_params *params,
                                        struct snd_pcm_hw_rule *rule)
  {
          struct snd_interval *c = hw_param_interval(params,
                SNDRV_PCM_HW_PARAM_CHANNELS);
          struct snd_mask *f = hw_param_mask(params, SNDRV_PCM_HW_PARAM_FORMAT);
          struct snd_mask fmt;

          snd_mask_any(&fmt);    /* Init the struct */
          if (c->min < 2) {
                  fmt.bits[0] &= SNDRV_PCM_FMTBIT_S16_LE;
                  return snd_mask_refine(f, &fmt);
          }
          return 0;
  }

          


Then you need to call this function to add your rule:

  snd_pcm_hw_rule_add(substream->runtime, 0, SNDRV_PCM_HW_PARAM_CHANNELS,
                      hw_rule_channels_by_format, 0, SNDRV_PCM_HW_PARAM_FORMAT,
                      -1);

          

The rule function is called when an application sets the number of channels. But an application can set the format before the number of channels. Thus you also need to define the inverse rule:

Example 5.7. Example of Hardware Constraints for Channels

  static int hw_rule_channels_by_format(struct snd_pcm_hw_params *params,
                                        struct snd_pcm_hw_rule *rule)
  {
          struct snd_interval *c = hw_param_interval(params,
                        SNDRV_PCM_HW_PARAM_CHANNELS);
          struct snd_mask *f = hw_param_mask(params, SNDRV_PCM_HW_PARAM_FORMAT);
          struct snd_interval ch;

          snd_interval_any(&ch);
          if (f->bits[0] == SNDRV_PCM_FMTBIT_S16_LE) {
                  ch.min = ch.max = 1;
                  ch.integer = 1;
                  return snd_interval_refine(c, &ch);
          }
          return 0;
  }

          


...and in the open callback:

  snd_pcm_hw_rule_add(substream->runtime, 0, SNDRV_PCM_HW_PARAM_FORMAT,
                      hw_rule_format_by_channels, 0, SNDRV_PCM_HW_PARAM_CHANNELS,
                      -1);

          

I won't give more details here, rather I would like to say, Luke, use the source.


https://www.kernel.org/doc/htmldocs/writing-an-alsa-driver.html
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