On Mon, 2007-06-18 at 10:27 +0200, Jan Kiszka wrote: 
> Jan Kiszka wrote:
> > ...
> > The answer I found is to synchronise all time bases as good as possible.
> > That means if one base changes its wall clock offset, all others need to
> > be adjusted as well. At this chance, we would also implement
> > synchronisation of the time bases on the system clock when they get
> > started. Because skins may work with different type width to represent
> > time, relative changes have to be applied, i.e. the core API changes
> > from xntbase_set_time(new_time) to xntbase_adjust_time(relative_change).
> > The patch (global-wallclock.patch) finally touches more parts than I was
> > first hoping. Here is the full list:
> > 
> >  - synchronise slave time bases on the master on xntbase_start
> >  - xntbase_set_time -> xntbase_adjust_time, fixing all time bases
> >    currently registered
> >  - make xnarch_start_timer return the nanos since the last host tick
> >    (only ia64 affected, all others return 0 anyway, causing one tick
> >    off when synchronising on system time -- but this fiddling becomes
> >    pointless on the long term due to better clocksourses on all archs)

Support for 2.4 kernels will be still around for the Xenomai 2.x series
though, and those will likely never support clocksources. Support for
Linux 2.4 will be discontinued starting from x3.

> >  - adapt vrtx, vxworks, and psos+ skin to new scheme, fixing sc_sclock
> >    at this chance
> >  - make xnarch_get_sys_time internal, no skin should (need to) touch
> >    this anymore

This interface has not been meant to be part of the skin building
interface, but for internal support code that needs to get the host
time. For instance, one may want this information for obscure data
logging from within a module, independently of any wallclock offset
fiddling Xenomai may do on its timebases (so nktbase is not an option
here if timebases start being tighly coupled). And this should work in
real execution mode, or in virtual simulation mode. IOW,
xnarch_get_sys_time() has to remain part of the exported internal
interface (even if as some inline routine, that's not the main issue

> Forgot to mention two further aspects:
>  - The semantic of XNTBSET was kept time base-local. But I wonder if
>    this flag is still required. Unless it was introduced to emulated
>    some special RTOS behaviour, we now have the time bases automatically
>    set on startup. Comments welcome.

That might be a problem wrt pSOS for instance. In theory, tm_set() has
to be issued to set the initial time, so there is indeed the notion of
unset/invalid state for the pSOS wallclock time when the system starts.
This said, in the real world, such initialization better belongs to the
BSP rather than to the application itself, and in our case, the BSP is
Linux/Xenomai's business, so this would still make sense to assume that
a timebase has no unset state from the application POV, and XNTBSET
could therefore go away.

The main concern I have right now regarding this patch is that it
changes a key aspect of Xenomai's current time management scheme:
timebases would be tighly coupled, whilst they aren't right now. For
instance, two timebases could have a very different idea of the Epoch in
the current implementation, and this patch is precisely made to kill
that aspect. This is a key issue if one considers how Xenomai should
deal with concurrent skins: either 1) as isolated virtual RTOS machines
with only a few bridges allowing very simple interfaces, or 2) as
possibly cooperating interfaces. It's all a matter of design; actually,
user/customer experience I know of clearly proves that #2 makes a lot of
sense, but still, this point needs to be discussed if needed.

So, two questions arise:

- what's the short term impact on the common - or not that common - use
case involving multiple concurrent skins? I tend to think that not that
many people are actually leveraging the current decoupling between
timebases. But, would some do, well, then they should definitely speak
up NOW.

- regarding the initial RTDM-related motivation now, why requiring all
timebases to be in sync Epoch-wise, instead of asking the software
wanting to exchange timestamps to always use the master timebase for
that purpose? By definition, nktbase is the most accurate, always valid
and running, and passing the timebase id along with the jiffy value when
exchanging timestamps would be no more needed.

> - This patch is a nice foundation for the stuff I have in mind post 2.4
>    release: an infrastructure to synchronise the Xenomai clock on
>    arbitrary external sources like local ToD, RTCs, sync packets sent
>    over CAN (CANopen...), Ethernet (RTnet, IEEE1588, ...), or whatever
>    media (poor-man's nullmodem links...)
> Jan
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