On 03/06/2018 04:27 PM, Takashi Iwai wrote:
On Tue, 06 Mar 2018 15:13:13 +0100,
Oleksandr Andrushchenko wrote:
On 03/06/2018 03:48 PM, Takashi Iwai wrote:
On Tue, 06 Mar 2018 14:30:05 +0100,
Oleksandr Andrushchenko wrote:
On 03/06/2018 02:52 PM, Takashi Iwai wrote:
On Tue, 06 Mar 2018 13:05:16 +0100,
Oleksandr Andrushchenko wrote:
On 03/06/2018 01:32 PM, Takashi Iwai wrote:
On Tue, 06 Mar 2018 12:25:07 +0100,
Oleksandr Andrushchenko wrote:
On 03/06/2018 12:52 PM, Takashi Iwai wrote:
On Mon, 05 Feb 2018 09:24:58 +0100,
Oleksandr Andrushchenko wrote:
From: Oleksandr Andrushchenko <oleksandr_andrushche...@epam.com>

Hi, all!


This change is aimed to add support for explicit back and front
synchronization during playback and capture in response to comments
raised during upstream attempt of the para-virtualized sound frontend
driver for Xen [1], [2] and gather opinions from the relevant communities
(ALSA, Xen) on the change.

The relevant backend is implemented as a user-space application [3]
and uses accompanying helper library [4].

Both frontend driver and backend were tested on real HW running Xen hypervisor
(Renesas R-Car ARM based H3/M3 boards, x86) to make sure the proposed
solution does work.


During the first attempt to upstream the Linux front driver [5] number
of comments and concerns were raised, one of the biggest flaws in the
design were questioned by both Clemens Ladisch [6] and
Takashi Sakamoto [7]: the absence of synchronization between frontend
and backend during capture/playback. Two options were discussed:

“In design of ALSA PCM core, drivers are expected to synchronize to
actual hardwares for semi-realtime data transmission. The
synchronization is done by two points:
1) Interrupts to respond events from actual hardwares.
2) Positions of actual data transmission in any serial sound interfaces
         of actual hardwares.

and finally a change to the existing protocol was suggested:

“In 'include/xen/interface/io/sndif.h', there's no functionalities I
described the above:
1. notifications from DomU to Dom0 about the size of period for
         interrupts from actual hardwares. Or no way from Dom0 to DomU about
         the configured size of the period.
2. notifications of the interrupts from actual hardwares to DomU.”

This is implemented as a change to the sndif protocol and allows removing
period emulation:
1. Introduced a new event channel from back to front
2. New event with number of bytes played/captured (XENSND_EVT_CUR_POS,
        to be used for sending snd_pcm_period_elapsed at frontend (in Linux
        implementation). Sent in bytes, not frames to make the protocol
        generic and consistent)
3. New request for playback/capture control (XENSND_OP_TRIGGER) with
        start/pause/stop/resume sub-ops
4. Playback/capture buffer size is set on the backend side via
        XENSND_FIELD_BUFFER_SIZE XenStore entry
So the new addition looks serving well for the point that was
suggested in the previous thread.  As I see no frontend driver
implementation, it's hard to tell about the details, but through a
quick glance, the protocol should be OK.
Thank you, the driver is at [1]
Now, going back to a big picture: I took a look at the previous
patchset, and wonder what about the hw_params setup.  Basically the
(frontend) application may request any size of buffer and periods
unless the driver sets up the hw constraints at open callback.  That
is, app may request even the 16 bytes of buffer size, or 1GB of
buffer.  The periods aren't always integer, so it can be 1024 bytes of
buffer with 400 bytes of periods.

And, if such parameters are set up freely in the frontend side, how
the backend is supposed to behave?  From the frontend POV, it expects
receiving the wakeup/notification at each period processing (e.g. 400
bytes in the case above).  But, the backend is another application, so
how would it work for such requirements?  Am I missing something here?
Well, the frontend is not that free to decide as it might look like,
e.g. please see [2]. Basically part of hw_params configuration is written
to XenStore [3] as a part of domain configuration which depends on
capabilities. E.g., we usually set buffer sizes to match real HW at
backend side
if we use ALSA and we have more freedom if we use PulseAudio there.
Finally, if backend decides that the requested buffer/period sizes are
not acceptable it will reject such a configuration.
OK, that restricts minimally.  So at least there is the restriction /
communication about the buffer size.  But it merely means the
*maximum* buffer size is set.  Application may request still any
shorter value than that.

And, there are no restriction about period sizes (except for the
periods_max, which is calculated from buffer_bytes_max).
That is, application may request any size between them; and it expects
the wake up by this value.

I think that's a still missing stone in the design.
Well, so what would a real HW driver do in that case?
My understanding is that in this case SW can still request
something that HW can't do and driver will reject such configurations.
In my case, the role of that HW driver code which judges on if configuration
is acceptable just runs on the backend side, e.g. frontend driver is just
a proxy which talks to the backend to check if the backend can do what
And it is up to backend to decide.

Does that sound reasonable or you have something else on your mind?
Usually the hardware driver knows already the restrictions and sets up
the rules via hw constraints at open callback.  There are lots of
snd_pcm_hw_constraint_*() helpers (and the relevant ones) to give more
additional rules for the parameter restrictions.  For example, if the
periods must be aligned with the buffer size (i.e. buffer_size %
period_size == 0) as on many devices, you can call like:
in the open callback.
You are right, I saw those in other drivers
And, now an open question for XEN comes: what kind of restriction
should be applied to the frontend.  Obviously it depends on the
backend, so there must be some communication, and the restriction must
be propagated at open, i.e. *before* actually hw_params is performed.
Could you please give me a hint of what those restrictions
could look like? E.g. map of supported buffer/period sizes, what else?
Heh, that very much depends on the hardware -- and in this case, on
the implementation of the backend.
That is correct, but we try to be backend agnostic, though
Practically seen, the buffer and the period size setups are mandatory,
yes.  Here is the question whether you want to limit them by list
(e.g. read via some XENSND_* protocol), or negotiate the size at each
hw_params setup (e.g. getting only min/max at open, and at each
hw_params call, negotiate with the backend for period and buffer size
The problem I see here is that at .open real HW driver
already knows its constraints and can properly setup.
So, in our case at open we should already have all the
constraints available to the frontend as well.
That will lead to lots of text in domain configuration file
if propagated via XenStore (e.g. you have to put all possible
combinations of buffers/periods depending on number of
channels, sample rates etc., you cannot use logic here as you can
in a real HW driver, only values). So, such configuration doesn't
seem to be an option here.
It depends.  If we do limit the configuration intentionally to only
some subsets that should suffice for most use cases, then the list
would be relatively short.
Ok, if we go with a limited set of supported buffer/period
sizes (and number of channels?), what could a constraint entry
look like? E.g. [buffer, period, num_channels, xxx]
What is that xxx in question? Sample rate, sample format,
anything else? Or [buffer, period, num_channels, rate, format]
is enough?
I am still thinking on having the above sent at run-time with
a new protocol command, which I will call on .open, so I can
apply the constraints where most of the drivers do.
This way backend can also determine its capabilities at run-time
and report those to the frontend, as a bonus eliminating the
need for huge domain configuration file/XenStore entries.
If we decide to negotiate the parameters, then it can't be done
at .open stage as well, as at this moment we don't know stream
parameters yet, e.g. we don't know the number of channels, PCM
format etc., so we cannot explain to the backend what we want.
Thus, it seems that we need to move the negotiation to .hw_params
callback where stream properties are known. But this leaves the
only option to ask the backend if it can handle the requested
buffer/period and other parameters or not... This is what I do now :(
The additional parameter setup can be done via hw_constraints.  The hw
constraint is basically a function call for each parameter change to
narrow down the range of the given parameter.

snd_pcm_hw_constraint_integer() in the above is just an example.
The actual function to adjust values can be freely written.
Yes, this is clear, the question here mostly was not
*how* to set the constraints, but *where* to get those
Am I missing something here?
The format, the channels and the sample rate are already included in
snd_pcm_hardware setup, so this should be OK, unless they have
implicit limitations with each other (e.g. some format is available
only under some rate).
Thank you, this should be up to the one who sets up the
domain configuration. Taking into account embedded nature of
our use-cases this is almost always doable, as these are
defined at system design time, e.g. we define number of channels
and their properties depending on domain functionality and needs.
Maybe the channels need to be revisited, though; usually you can't
handle all number of channels between min and max but only even
numbers or such.
But if backend can implement some fancy stuff with software
mixing etc... This is why I didn't limit on that
But if the backend doesn't support fancy numbers like 3 channels?
That's the same situation as buffer / periods.  The frontend needs to
know exactly what configuration the backend would allow.
Ok, did I understand you correctly that you see it as
described above, e.g. backend communicates (limited)
set of constraints to the frontend, so frontend sets
these constraints at .open?
The way these are communicated could be either XenStore/
domain configuration or extension to the protocol, no preference
from your side?

Thank you very much for helping with this!

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