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Dynamic DMA mapping using the generic device
James E.J. Bottomley <>
This document describes the DMA API. For a more gentle introduction
of the API (and actual examples) see
This API is split into two pieces. Part I describes the API. Part II
describes the extensions to the API for supporting non-consistent
memory machines. Unless you know that your driver absolutely has to
support non-consistent platforms (this is usually only legacy
platforms) you should only use the API described in part I.
Part I - dma_ API
To get the dma_ API, you must #include <linux/dma-mapping.h>
Part Ia - Using large dma-coherent buffers
void *
dma_alloc_coherent(struct device *dev, size_t size,
dma_addr_t *dma_handle, gfp_t flag)
Consistent memory is memory for which a write by either the device or
the processor can immediately be read by the processor or device
without having to worry about caching effects. (You may however need
to make sure to flush the processor's write buffers before telling
devices to read that memory.)
This routine allocates a region of <size> bytes of consistent memory.
It also returns a <dma_handle> which may be cast to an unsigned
integer the same width as the bus and used as the physical address
base of the region.
Returns: a pointer to the allocated region (in the processor's virtual
address space) or NULL if the allocation failed.
Note: consistent memory can be expensive on some platforms, and the
minimum allocation length may be as big as a page, so you should
consolidate your requests for consistent memory as much as possible.
The simplest way to do that is to use the dma_pool calls (see below).
The flag parameter (dma_alloc_coherent only) allows the caller to
specify the GFP_ flags (see kmalloc) for the allocation (the
implementation may choose to ignore flags that affect the location of
the returned memory, like GFP_DMA).
void *
dma_zalloc_coherent(struct device *dev, size_t size,
dma_addr_t *dma_handle, gfp_t flag)
Wraps dma_alloc_coherent() and also zeroes the returned memory if the
allocation attempt succeeded.
dma_free_coherent(struct device *dev, size_t size, void *cpu_addr,
dma_addr_t dma_handle)
Free the region of consistent memory you previously allocated. dev,
size and dma_handle must all be the same as those passed into the
consistent allocate. cpu_addr must be the virtual address returned by
the consistent allocate.
Note that unlike their sibling allocation calls, these routines
may only be called with IRQs enabled.
Part Ib - Using small dma-coherent buffers
To get this part of the dma_ API, you must #include <linux/dmapool.h>
Many drivers need lots of small dma-coherent memory regions for DMA
descriptors or I/O buffers. Rather than allocating in units of a page
or more using dma_alloc_coherent(), you can use DMA pools. These work
much like a struct kmem_cache, except that they use the dma-coherent allocator,
not __get_free_pages(). Also, they understand common hardware constraints
for alignment, like queue heads needing to be aligned on N-byte boundaries.
struct dma_pool *
dma_pool_create(const char *name, struct device *dev,
size_t size, size_t align, size_t alloc);
The pool create() routines initialize a pool of dma-coherent buffers
for use with a given device. It must be called in a context which
can sleep.
The "name" is for diagnostics (like a struct kmem_cache name); dev and size
are like what you'd pass to dma_alloc_coherent(). The device's hardware
alignment requirement for this type of data is "align" (which is expressed
in bytes, and must be a power of two). If your device has no boundary
crossing restrictions, pass 0 for alloc; passing 4096 says memory allocated
from this pool must not cross 4KByte boundaries.
void *dma_pool_alloc(struct dma_pool *pool, gfp_t gfp_flags,
dma_addr_t *dma_handle);
This allocates memory from the pool; the returned memory will meet the size
and alignment requirements specified at creation time. Pass GFP_ATOMIC to
prevent blocking, or if it's permitted (not in_interrupt, not holding SMP locks),
pass GFP_KERNEL to allow blocking. Like dma_alloc_coherent(), this returns
two values: an address usable by the cpu, and the dma address usable by the
pool's device.
void dma_pool_free(struct dma_pool *pool, void *vaddr,
dma_addr_t addr);
This puts memory back into the pool. The pool is what was passed to
the pool allocation routine; the cpu (vaddr) and dma addresses are what
were returned when that routine allocated the memory being freed.
void dma_pool_destroy(struct dma_pool *pool);
The pool destroy() routines free the resources of the pool. They must be
called in a context which can sleep. Make sure you've freed all allocated
memory back to the pool before you destroy it.
Part Ic - DMA addressing limitations
dma_supported(struct device *dev, u64 mask)
Checks to see if the device can support DMA to the memory described by
Returns: 1 if it can and 0 if it can't.
Notes: This routine merely tests to see if the mask is possible. It
won't change the current mask settings. It is more intended as an
internal API for use by the platform than an external API for use by
driver writers.
dma_set_mask(struct device *dev, u64 mask)
Checks to see if the mask is possible and updates the device
parameters if it is.
Returns: 0 if successful and a negative error if not.
dma_set_coherent_mask(struct device *dev, u64 mask)
Checks to see if the mask is possible and updates the device
parameters if it is.
Returns: 0 if successful and a negative error if not.
dma_get_required_mask(struct device *dev)
This API returns the mask that the platform requires to
operate efficiently. Usually this means the returned mask
is the minimum required to cover all of memory. Examining the
required mask gives drivers with variable descriptor sizes the
opportunity to use smaller descriptors as necessary.
Requesting the required mask does not alter the current mask. If you
wish to take advantage of it, you should issue a dma_set_mask()
call to set the mask to the value returned.
Part Id - Streaming DMA mappings
dma_map_single(struct device *dev, void *cpu_addr, size_t size,
enum dma_data_direction direction)
Maps a piece of processor virtual memory so it can be accessed by the
device and returns the physical handle of the memory.
The direction for both api's may be converted freely by casting.
However the dma_ API uses a strongly typed enumerator for its
DMA_NONE no direction (used for debugging)
DMA_TO_DEVICE data is going from the memory to the device
DMA_FROM_DEVICE data is coming from the device to the memory
DMA_BIDIRECTIONAL direction isn't known
Notes: Not all memory regions in a machine can be mapped by this
API. Further, regions that appear to be physically contiguous in
kernel virtual space may not be contiguous as physical memory. Since
this API does not provide any scatter/gather capability, it will fail
if the user tries to map a non-physically contiguous piece of memory.
For this reason, it is recommended that memory mapped by this API be
obtained only from sources which guarantee it to be physically contiguous
(like kmalloc).
Further, the physical address of the memory must be within the
dma_mask of the device (the dma_mask represents a bit mask of the
addressable region for the device. I.e., if the physical address of
the memory anded with the dma_mask is still equal to the physical
address, then the device can perform DMA to the memory). In order to
ensure that the memory allocated by kmalloc is within the dma_mask,
the driver may specify various platform-dependent flags to restrict
the physical memory range of the allocation (e.g. on x86, GFP_DMA
guarantees to be within the first 16Mb of available physical memory,
as required by ISA devices).
Note also that the above constraints on physical contiguity and
dma_mask may not apply if the platform has an IOMMU (a device which
supplies a physical to virtual mapping between the I/O memory bus and
the device). However, to be portable, device driver writers may *not*
assume that such an IOMMU exists.
Warnings: Memory coherency operates at a granularity called the cache
line width. In order for memory mapped by this API to operate
correctly, the mapped region must begin exactly on a cache line
boundary and end exactly on one (to prevent two separately mapped
regions from sharing a single cache line). Since the cache line size
may not be known at compile time, the API will not enforce this
requirement. Therefore, it is recommended that driver writers who
don't take special care to determine the cache line size at run time
only map virtual regions that begin and end on page boundaries (which
are guaranteed also to be cache line boundaries).
DMA_TO_DEVICE synchronisation must be done after the last modification
of the memory region by the software and before it is handed off to
the driver. Once this primitive is used, memory covered by this
primitive should be treated as read-only by the device. If the device
may write to it at any point, it should be DMA_BIDIRECTIONAL (see
DMA_FROM_DEVICE synchronisation must be done before the driver
accesses data that may be changed by the device. This memory should
be treated as read-only by the driver. If the driver needs to write
to it at any point, it should be DMA_BIDIRECTIONAL (see below).
DMA_BIDIRECTIONAL requires special handling: it means that the driver
isn't sure if the memory was modified before being handed off to the
device and also isn't sure if the device will also modify it. Thus,
you must always sync bidirectional memory twice: once before the
memory is handed off to the device (to make sure all memory changes
are flushed from the processor) and once before the data may be
accessed after being used by the device (to make sure any processor
cache lines are updated with data that the device may have changed).
dma_unmap_single(struct device *dev, dma_addr_t dma_addr, size_t size,
enum dma_data_direction direction)
Unmaps the region previously mapped. All the parameters passed in
must be identical to those passed in (and returned) by the mapping
dma_map_page(struct device *dev, struct page *page,
unsigned long offset, size_t size,
enum dma_data_direction direction)
dma_unmap_page(struct device *dev, dma_addr_t dma_address, size_t size,
enum dma_data_direction direction)
API for mapping and unmapping for pages. All the notes and warnings
for the other mapping APIs apply here. Also, although the <offset>
and <size> parameters are provided to do partial page mapping, it is
recommended that you never use these unless you really know what the
cache width is.
dma_mapping_error(struct device *dev, dma_addr_t dma_addr)
In some circumstances dma_map_single and dma_map_page will fail to create
a mapping. A driver can check for these errors by testing the returned
dma address with dma_mapping_error(). A non-zero return value means the mapping
could not be created and the driver should take appropriate action (e.g.
reduce current DMA mapping usage or delay and try again later).
dma_map_sg(struct device *dev, struct scatterlist *sg,
int nents, enum dma_data_direction direction)
Returns: the number of physical segments mapped (this may be shorter
than <nents> passed in if some elements of the scatter/gather list are
physically or virtually adjacent and an IOMMU maps them with a single
Please note that the sg cannot be mapped again if it has been mapped once.
The mapping process is allowed to destroy information in the sg.
As with the other mapping interfaces, dma_map_sg can fail. When it
does, 0 is returned and a driver must take appropriate action. It is
critical that the driver do something, in the case of a block driver
aborting the request or even oopsing is better than doing nothing and
corrupting the filesystem.
With scatterlists, you use the resulting mapping like this:
int i, count = dma_map_sg(dev, sglist, nents, direction);
struct scatterlist *sg;
for_each_sg(sglist, sg, count, i) {
hw_address[i] = sg_dma_address(sg);
hw_len[i] = sg_dma_len(sg);
where nents is the number of entries in the sglist.
The implementation is free to merge several consecutive sglist entries
into one (e.g. with an IOMMU, or if several pages just happen to be
physically contiguous) and returns the actual number of sg entries it
mapped them to. On failure 0, is returned.
Then you should loop count times (note: this can be less than nents times)
and use sg_dma_address() and sg_dma_len() macros where you previously
accessed sg->address and sg->length as shown above.
dma_unmap_sg(struct device *dev, struct scatterlist *sg,
int nhwentries, enum dma_data_direction direction)
Unmap the previously mapped scatter/gather list. All the parameters
must be the same as those and passed in to the scatter/gather mapping
Note: <nents> must be the number you passed in, *not* the number of
physical entries returned.
dma_sync_single_for_cpu(struct device *dev, dma_addr_t dma_handle, size_t size,
enum dma_data_direction direction)
dma_sync_single_for_device(struct device *dev, dma_addr_t dma_handle, size_t size,
enum dma_data_direction direction)
dma_sync_sg_for_cpu(struct device *dev, struct scatterlist *sg, int nelems,
enum dma_data_direction direction)
dma_sync_sg_for_device(struct device *dev, struct scatterlist *sg, int nelems,
enum dma_data_direction direction)
Synchronise a single contiguous or scatter/gather mapping for the cpu
and device. With the sync_sg API, all the parameters must be the same
as those passed into the single mapping API. With the sync_single API,
you can use dma_handle and size parameters that aren't identical to
those passed into the single mapping API to do a partial sync.
Notes: You must do this:
- Before reading values that have been written by DMA from the device
(use the DMA_FROM_DEVICE direction)
- After writing values that will be written to the device using DMA
(use the DMA_TO_DEVICE) direction
- before *and* after handing memory to the device if the memory is
See also dma_map_single().
dma_map_single_attrs(struct device *dev, void *cpu_addr, size_t size,
enum dma_data_direction dir,
struct dma_attrs *attrs)
dma_unmap_single_attrs(struct device *dev, dma_addr_t dma_addr,
size_t size, enum dma_data_direction dir,
struct dma_attrs *attrs)
dma_map_sg_attrs(struct device *dev, struct scatterlist *sgl,
int nents, enum dma_data_direction dir,
struct dma_attrs *attrs)
dma_unmap_sg_attrs(struct device *dev, struct scatterlist *sgl,
int nents, enum dma_data_direction dir,
struct dma_attrs *attrs)
The four functions above are just like the counterpart functions
without the _attrs suffixes, except that they pass an optional
struct dma_attrs*.
struct dma_attrs encapsulates a set of "dma attributes". For the
definition of struct dma_attrs see linux/dma-attrs.h.
The interpretation of dma attributes is architecture-specific, and
each attribute should be documented in Documentation/DMA-attributes.txt.
If struct dma_attrs* is NULL, the semantics of each of these
functions is identical to those of the corresponding function
without the _attrs suffix. As a result dma_map_single_attrs()
can generally replace dma_map_single(), etc.
As an example of the use of the *_attrs functions, here's how
you could pass an attribute DMA_ATTR_FOO when mapping memory
for DMA:
#include <linux/dma-attrs.h>
/* DMA_ATTR_FOO should be defined in linux/dma-attrs.h and
* documented in Documentation/DMA-attributes.txt */
dma_set_attr(DMA_ATTR_FOO, &attrs);
n = dma_map_sg_attrs(dev, sg, nents, DMA_TO_DEVICE, &attr);
Architectures that care about DMA_ATTR_FOO would check for its
presence in their implementations of the mapping and unmapping
routines, e.g.:
void whizco_dma_map_sg_attrs(struct device *dev, dma_addr_t dma_addr,
size_t size, enum dma_data_direction dir,
struct dma_attrs *attrs)
int foo = dma_get_attr(DMA_ATTR_FOO, attrs);
if (foo)
/* twizzle the frobnozzle */
Part II - Advanced dma_ usage
Warning: These pieces of the DMA API should not be used in the
majority of cases, since they cater for unlikely corner cases that
don't belong in usual drivers.
If you don't understand how cache line coherency works between a
processor and an I/O device, you should not be using this part of the
API at all.
void *
dma_alloc_noncoherent(struct device *dev, size_t size,
dma_addr_t *dma_handle, gfp_t flag)
Identical to dma_alloc_coherent() except that the platform will
choose to return either consistent or non-consistent memory as it sees
fit. By using this API, you are guaranteeing to the platform that you
have all the correct and necessary sync points for this memory in the
driver should it choose to return non-consistent memory.
Note: where the platform can return consistent memory, it will
guarantee that the sync points become nops.
Warning: Handling non-consistent memory is a real pain. You should
only ever use this API if you positively know your driver will be
required to work on one of the rare (usually non-PCI) architectures
that simply cannot make consistent memory.
dma_free_noncoherent(struct device *dev, size_t size, void *cpu_addr,
dma_addr_t dma_handle)
Free memory allocated by the nonconsistent API. All parameters must
be identical to those passed in (and returned by
Returns the processor cache alignment. This is the absolute minimum
alignment *and* width that you must observe when either mapping
memory or doing partial flushes.
Notes: This API may return a number *larger* than the actual cache
line, but it will guarantee that one or more cache lines fit exactly
into the width returned by this call. It will also always be a power
of two for easy alignment.
dma_cache_sync(struct device *dev, void *vaddr, size_t size,
enum dma_data_direction direction)
Do a partial sync of memory that was allocated by
dma_alloc_noncoherent(), starting at virtual address vaddr and
continuing on for size. Again, you *must* observe the cache line
boundaries when doing this.
dma_declare_coherent_memory(struct device *dev, dma_addr_t bus_addr,
dma_addr_t device_addr, size_t size, int
Declare region of memory to be handed out by dma_alloc_coherent when
it's asked for coherent memory for this device.
bus_addr is the physical address to which the memory is currently
assigned in the bus responding region (this will be used by the
platform to perform the mapping).
device_addr is the physical address the device needs to be programmed
with actually to address this memory (this will be handed out as the
dma_addr_t in dma_alloc_coherent()).
size is the size of the area (must be multiples of PAGE_SIZE).
flags can be or'd together and are:
DMA_MEMORY_MAP - request that the memory returned from
dma_alloc_coherent() be directly writable.
DMA_MEMORY_IO - request that the memory returned from
dma_alloc_coherent() be addressable using read/write/memcpy_toio etc.
One or both of these flags must be present.
DMA_MEMORY_INCLUDES_CHILDREN - make the declared memory be allocated by
dma_alloc_coherent of any child devices of this one (for memory residing
on a bridge).
DMA_MEMORY_EXCLUSIVE - only allocate memory from the declared regions.
Do not allow dma_alloc_coherent() to fall back to system memory when
it's out of memory in the declared region.
The return value will be either DMA_MEMORY_MAP or DMA_MEMORY_IO and
must correspond to a passed in flag (i.e. no returning DMA_MEMORY_IO
if only DMA_MEMORY_MAP were passed in) for success or zero for
Note, for DMA_MEMORY_IO returns, all subsequent memory returned by
dma_alloc_coherent() may no longer be accessed directly, but instead
must be accessed using the correct bus functions. If your driver
isn't prepared to handle this contingency, it should not specify
DMA_MEMORY_IO in the input flags.
As a simplification for the platforms, only *one* such region of
memory may be declared per device.
For reasons of efficiency, most platforms choose to track the declared
region only at the granularity of a page. For smaller allocations,
you should use the dma_pool() API.
dma_release_declared_memory(struct device *dev)
Remove the memory region previously declared from the system. This
API performs *no* in-use checking for this region and will return
unconditionally having removed all the required structures. It is the
driver's job to ensure that no parts of this memory region are
currently in use.
void *
dma_mark_declared_memory_occupied(struct device *dev,
dma_addr_t device_addr, size_t size)
This is used to occupy specific regions of the declared space
(dma_alloc_coherent() will hand out the first free region it finds).
device_addr is the *device* address of the region requested.
size is the size (and should be a page-sized multiple).
The return value will be either a pointer to the processor virtual
address of the memory, or an error (via PTR_ERR()) if any part of the
region is occupied.
Part III - Debug drivers use of the DMA-API
The DMA-API as described above as some constraints. DMA addresses must be
released with the corresponding function with the same size for example. With
the advent of hardware IOMMUs it becomes more and more important that drivers
do not violate those constraints. In the worst case such a violation can
result in data corruption up to destroyed filesystems.
To debug drivers and find bugs in the usage of the DMA-API checking code can
be compiled into the kernel which will tell the developer about those
violations. If your architecture supports it you can select the "Enable
debugging of DMA-API usage" option in your kernel configuration. Enabling this
option has a performance impact. Do not enable it in production kernels.
If you boot the resulting kernel will contain code which does some bookkeeping
about what DMA memory was allocated for which device. If this code detects an
error it prints a warning message with some details into your kernel log. An
example warning message may look like this:
------------[ cut here ]------------
WARNING: at /data2/repos/linux-2.6-iommu/lib/dma-debug.c:448
Hardware name:
forcedeth 0000:00:08.0: DMA-API: device driver frees DMA memory with wrong
function [device address=0x00000000640444be] [size=66 bytes] [mapped as
single] [unmapped as page]
Modules linked in: nfsd exportfs bridge stp llc r8169
Pid: 0, comm: swapper Tainted: G W 2.6.28-dmatest-09289-g8bb99c0 #1
Call Trace:
<IRQ> [<ffffffff80240b22>] warn_slowpath+0xf2/0x130
[<ffffffff80647b70>] _spin_unlock+0x10/0x30
[<ffffffff80537e75>] usb_hcd_link_urb_to_ep+0x75/0xc0
[<ffffffff80647c22>] _spin_unlock_irqrestore+0x12/0x40
[<ffffffff8055347f>] ohci_urb_enqueue+0x19f/0x7c0
[<ffffffff80252f96>] queue_work+0x56/0x60
[<ffffffff80237e10>] enqueue_task_fair+0x20/0x50
[<ffffffff80539279>] usb_hcd_submit_urb+0x379/0xbc0
[<ffffffff803b78c3>] cpumask_next_and+0x23/0x40
[<ffffffff80235177>] find_busiest_group+0x207/0x8a0
[<ffffffff8064784f>] _spin_lock_irqsave+0x1f/0x50
[<ffffffff803c7ea3>] check_unmap+0x203/0x490
[<ffffffff803c8259>] debug_dma_unmap_page+0x49/0x50
[<ffffffff80485f26>] nv_tx_done_optimized+0xc6/0x2c0
[<ffffffff80486c13>] nv_nic_irq_optimized+0x73/0x2b0
[<ffffffff8026df84>] handle_IRQ_event+0x34/0x70
[<ffffffff8026ffe9>] handle_edge_irq+0xc9/0x150
[<ffffffff8020e3ab>] do_IRQ+0xcb/0x1c0
[<ffffffff8020c093>] ret_from_intr+0x0/0xa
<EOI> <4>---[ end trace f6435a98e2a38c0e ]---
The driver developer can find the driver and the device including a stacktrace
of the DMA-API call which caused this warning.
Per default only the first error will result in a warning message. All other
errors will only silently counted. This limitation exist to prevent the code
from flooding your kernel log. To support debugging a device driver this can
be disabled via debugfs. See the debugfs interface documentation below for
The debugfs directory for the DMA-API debugging code is called dma-api/. In
this directory the following files can currently be found:
dma-api/all_errors This file contains a numeric value. If this
value is not equal to zero the debugging code
will print a warning for every error it finds
into the kernel log. Be careful with this
option, as it can easily flood your logs.
dma-api/disabled This read-only file contains the character 'Y'
if the debugging code is disabled. This can
happen when it runs out of memory or if it was
disabled at boot time
dma-api/error_count This file is read-only and shows the total
numbers of errors found.
dma-api/num_errors The number in this file shows how many
warnings will be printed to the kernel log
before it stops. This number is initialized to
one at system boot and be set by writing into
this file
This read-only file can be read to get the
minimum number of free dma_debug_entries the
allocator has ever seen. If this value goes
down to zero the code will disable itself
because it is not longer reliable.
The current number of free dma_debug_entries
in the allocator.
You can write a name of a driver into this file
to limit the debug output to requests from that
particular driver. Write an empty string to
that file to disable the filter and see
all errors again.
If you have this code compiled into your kernel it will be enabled by default.
If you want to boot without the bookkeeping anyway you can provide
'dma_debug=off' as a boot parameter. This will disable DMA-API debugging.
Notice that you can not enable it again at runtime. You have to reboot to do
If you want to see debug messages only for a special device driver you can
specify the dma_debug_driver=<drivername> parameter. This will enable the
driver filter at boot time. The debug code will only print errors for that
driver afterwards. This filter can be disabled or changed later using debugfs.
When the code disables itself at runtime this is most likely because it ran
out of dma_debug_entries. These entries are preallocated at boot. The number
of preallocated entries is defined per architecture. If it is too low for you
boot with 'dma_debug_entries=<your_desired_number>' to overwrite the
architectural default.