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Based on kernel version 4.7.2. Page generated on 2016-08-22 22:48 EST.

1	An introduction to the videobuf layer
2	Jonathan Corbet <corbet@lwn.net>
3	Current as of 2.6.33
5	The videobuf layer functions as a sort of glue layer between a V4L2 driver
6	and user space.  It handles the allocation and management of buffers for
7	the storage of video frames.  There is a set of functions which can be used
8	to implement many of the standard POSIX I/O system calls, including read(),
9	poll(), and, happily, mmap().  Another set of functions can be used to
10	implement the bulk of the V4L2 ioctl() calls related to streaming I/O,
11	including buffer allocation, queueing and dequeueing, and streaming
12	control.  Using videobuf imposes a few design decisions on the driver
13	author, but the payback comes in the form of reduced code in the driver and
14	a consistent implementation of the V4L2 user-space API.
16	Buffer types
18	Not all video devices use the same kind of buffers.  In fact, there are (at
19	least) three common variations:
21	 - Buffers which are scattered in both the physical and (kernel) virtual
22	   address spaces.  (Almost) all user-space buffers are like this, but it
23	   makes great sense to allocate kernel-space buffers this way as well when
24	   it is possible.  Unfortunately, it is not always possible; working with
25	   this kind of buffer normally requires hardware which can do
26	   scatter/gather DMA operations.
28	 - Buffers which are physically scattered, but which are virtually
29	   contiguous; buffers allocated with vmalloc(), in other words.  These
30	   buffers are just as hard to use for DMA operations, but they can be
31	   useful in situations where DMA is not available but virtually-contiguous
32	   buffers are convenient.
34	 - Buffers which are physically contiguous.  Allocation of this kind of
35	   buffer can be unreliable on fragmented systems, but simpler DMA
36	   controllers cannot deal with anything else.
38	Videobuf can work with all three types of buffers, but the driver author
39	must pick one at the outset and design the driver around that decision.
41	[It's worth noting that there's a fourth kind of buffer: "overlay" buffers
42	which are located within the system's video memory.  The overlay
43	functionality is considered to be deprecated for most use, but it still
44	shows up occasionally in system-on-chip drivers where the performance
45	benefits merit the use of this technique.  Overlay buffers can be handled
46	as a form of scattered buffer, but there are very few implementations in
47	the kernel and a description of this technique is currently beyond the
48	scope of this document.]
50	Data structures, callbacks, and initialization
52	Depending on which type of buffers are being used, the driver should
53	include one of the following files:
55	    <media/videobuf-dma-sg.h>		/* Physically scattered */
56	    <media/videobuf-vmalloc.h>		/* vmalloc() buffers	*/
57	    <media/videobuf-dma-contig.h>	/* Physically contiguous */
59	The driver's data structure describing a V4L2 device should include a
60	struct videobuf_queue instance for the management of the buffer queue,
61	along with a list_head for the queue of available buffers.  There will also
62	need to be an interrupt-safe spinlock which is used to protect (at least)
63	the queue.
65	The next step is to write four simple callbacks to help videobuf deal with
66	the management of buffers:
68	    struct videobuf_queue_ops {
69		int (*buf_setup)(struct videobuf_queue *q,
70				 unsigned int *count, unsigned int *size);
71		int (*buf_prepare)(struct videobuf_queue *q,
72				   struct videobuf_buffer *vb,
73				   enum v4l2_field field);
74		void (*buf_queue)(struct videobuf_queue *q,
75				  struct videobuf_buffer *vb);
76		void (*buf_release)(struct videobuf_queue *q,
77				    struct videobuf_buffer *vb);
78	    };
80	buf_setup() is called early in the I/O process, when streaming is being
81	initiated; its purpose is to tell videobuf about the I/O stream.  The count
82	parameter will be a suggested number of buffers to use; the driver should
83	check it for rationality and adjust it if need be.  As a practical rule, a
84	minimum of two buffers are needed for proper streaming, and there is
85	usually a maximum (which cannot exceed 32) which makes sense for each
86	device.  The size parameter should be set to the expected (maximum) size
87	for each frame of data.
89	Each buffer (in the form of a struct videobuf_buffer pointer) will be
90	passed to buf_prepare(), which should set the buffer's size, width, height,
91	and field fields properly.  If the buffer's state field is
92	VIDEOBUF_NEEDS_INIT, the driver should pass it to:
94	    int videobuf_iolock(struct videobuf_queue* q, struct videobuf_buffer *vb,
95				struct v4l2_framebuffer *fbuf);
97	Among other things, this call will usually allocate memory for the buffer.
98	Finally, the buf_prepare() function should set the buffer's state to
101	When a buffer is queued for I/O, it is passed to buf_queue(), which should
102	put it onto the driver's list of available buffers and set its state to
103	VIDEOBUF_QUEUED.  Note that this function is called with the queue spinlock
104	held; if it tries to acquire it as well things will come to a screeching
105	halt.  Yes, this is the voice of experience.  Note also that videobuf may
106	wait on the first buffer in the queue; placing other buffers in front of it
107	could again gum up the works.  So use list_add_tail() to enqueue buffers.
109	Finally, buf_release() is called when a buffer is no longer intended to be
110	used.  The driver should ensure that there is no I/O active on the buffer,
111	then pass it to the appropriate free routine(s):
113	    /* Scatter/gather drivers */
114	    int videobuf_dma_unmap(struct videobuf_queue *q,
115				   struct videobuf_dmabuf *dma);
116	    int videobuf_dma_free(struct videobuf_dmabuf *dma);
118	    /* vmalloc drivers */
119	    void videobuf_vmalloc_free (struct videobuf_buffer *buf);
121	    /* Contiguous drivers */
122	    void videobuf_dma_contig_free(struct videobuf_queue *q,
123					  struct videobuf_buffer *buf);
125	One way to ensure that a buffer is no longer under I/O is to pass it to:
127	    int videobuf_waiton(struct videobuf_buffer *vb, int non_blocking, int intr);
129	Here, vb is the buffer, non_blocking indicates whether non-blocking I/O
130	should be used (it should be zero in the buf_release() case), and intr
131	controls whether an interruptible wait is used.
133	File operations
135	At this point, much of the work is done; much of the rest is slipping
136	videobuf calls into the implementation of the other driver callbacks.  The
137	first step is in the open() function, which must initialize the
138	videobuf queue.  The function to use depends on the type of buffer used:
140	    void videobuf_queue_sg_init(struct videobuf_queue *q,
141					struct videobuf_queue_ops *ops,
142					struct device *dev,
143					spinlock_t *irqlock,
144					enum v4l2_buf_type type,
145					enum v4l2_field field,
146					unsigned int msize,
147					void *priv);
149	    void videobuf_queue_vmalloc_init(struct videobuf_queue *q,
150					struct videobuf_queue_ops *ops,
151					struct device *dev,
152					spinlock_t *irqlock,
153					enum v4l2_buf_type type,
154					enum v4l2_field field,
155					unsigned int msize,
156					void *priv);
158	    void videobuf_queue_dma_contig_init(struct videobuf_queue *q,
159					       struct videobuf_queue_ops *ops,
160					       struct device *dev,
161					       spinlock_t *irqlock,
162					       enum v4l2_buf_type type,
163					       enum v4l2_field field,
164					       unsigned int msize,
165					       void *priv);
167	In each case, the parameters are the same: q is the queue structure for the
168	device, ops is the set of callbacks as described above, dev is the device
169	structure for this video device, irqlock is an interrupt-safe spinlock to
170	protect access to the data structures, type is the buffer type used by the
171	device (cameras will use V4L2_BUF_TYPE_VIDEO_CAPTURE, for example), field
172	describes which field is being captured (often V4L2_FIELD_NONE for
173	progressive devices), msize is the size of any containing structure used
174	around struct videobuf_buffer, and priv is a private data pointer which
175	shows up in the priv_data field of struct videobuf_queue.  Note that these
176	are void functions which, evidently, are immune to failure.
178	V4L2 capture drivers can be written to support either of two APIs: the
179	read() system call and the rather more complicated streaming mechanism.  As
180	a general rule, it is necessary to support both to ensure that all
181	applications have a chance of working with the device.  Videobuf makes it
182	easy to do that with the same code.  To implement read(), the driver need
183	only make a call to one of:
185	    ssize_t videobuf_read_one(struct videobuf_queue *q,
186				      char __user *data, size_t count,
187				      loff_t *ppos, int nonblocking);
189	    ssize_t videobuf_read_stream(struct videobuf_queue *q,
190					 char __user *data, size_t count,
191					 loff_t *ppos, int vbihack, int nonblocking);
193	Either one of these functions will read frame data into data, returning the
194	amount actually read; the difference is that videobuf_read_one() will only
195	read a single frame, while videobuf_read_stream() will read multiple frames
196	if they are needed to satisfy the count requested by the application.  A
197	typical driver read() implementation will start the capture engine, call
198	one of the above functions, then stop the engine before returning (though a
199	smarter implementation might leave the engine running for a little while in
200	anticipation of another read() call happening in the near future).
202	The poll() function can usually be implemented with a direct call to:
204	    unsigned int videobuf_poll_stream(struct file *file,
205					      struct videobuf_queue *q,
206					      poll_table *wait);
208	Note that the actual wait queue eventually used will be the one associated
209	with the first available buffer.
211	When streaming I/O is done to kernel-space buffers, the driver must support
212	the mmap() system call to enable user space to access the data.  In many
213	V4L2 drivers, the often-complex mmap() implementation simplifies to a
214	single call to:
216	    int videobuf_mmap_mapper(struct videobuf_queue *q,
217				     struct vm_area_struct *vma);
219	Everything else is handled by the videobuf code.
221	The release() function requires two separate videobuf calls:
223	    void videobuf_stop(struct videobuf_queue *q);
224	    int videobuf_mmap_free(struct videobuf_queue *q);
226	The call to videobuf_stop() terminates any I/O in progress - though it is
227	still up to the driver to stop the capture engine.  The call to
228	videobuf_mmap_free() will ensure that all buffers have been unmapped; if
229	so, they will all be passed to the buf_release() callback.  If buffers
230	remain mapped, videobuf_mmap_free() returns an error code instead.  The
231	purpose is clearly to cause the closing of the file descriptor to fail if
232	buffers are still mapped, but every driver in the 2.6.32 kernel cheerfully
233	ignores its return value.
235	ioctl() operations
237	The V4L2 API includes a very long list of driver callbacks to respond to
238	the many ioctl() commands made available to user space.  A number of these
239	- those associated with streaming I/O - turn almost directly into videobuf
240	calls.  The relevant helper functions are:
242	    int videobuf_reqbufs(struct videobuf_queue *q,
243				 struct v4l2_requestbuffers *req);
244	    int videobuf_querybuf(struct videobuf_queue *q, struct v4l2_buffer *b);
245	    int videobuf_qbuf(struct videobuf_queue *q, struct v4l2_buffer *b);
246	    int videobuf_dqbuf(struct videobuf_queue *q, struct v4l2_buffer *b,
247			       int nonblocking);
248	    int videobuf_streamon(struct videobuf_queue *q);
249	    int videobuf_streamoff(struct videobuf_queue *q);
251	So, for example, a VIDIOC_REQBUFS call turns into a call to the driver's
252	vidioc_reqbufs() callback which, in turn, usually only needs to locate the
253	proper struct videobuf_queue pointer and pass it to videobuf_reqbufs().
254	These support functions can replace a great deal of buffer management
255	boilerplate in a lot of V4L2 drivers.
257	The vidioc_streamon() and vidioc_streamoff() functions will be a bit more
258	complex, of course, since they will also need to deal with starting and
259	stopping the capture engine.
261	Buffer allocation
263	Thus far, we have talked about buffers, but have not looked at how they are
264	allocated.  The scatter/gather case is the most complex on this front.  For
265	allocation, the driver can leave buffer allocation entirely up to the
266	videobuf layer; in this case, buffers will be allocated as anonymous
267	user-space pages and will be very scattered indeed.  If the application is
268	using user-space buffers, no allocation is needed; the videobuf layer will
269	take care of calling get_user_pages() and filling in the scatterlist array.
271	If the driver needs to do its own memory allocation, it should be done in
272	the vidioc_reqbufs() function, *after* calling videobuf_reqbufs().  The
273	first step is a call to:
275	    struct videobuf_dmabuf *videobuf_to_dma(struct videobuf_buffer *buf);
277	The returned videobuf_dmabuf structure (defined in
278	<media/videobuf-dma-sg.h>) includes a couple of relevant fields:
280	    struct scatterlist  *sglist;
281	    int                 sglen;
283	The driver must allocate an appropriately-sized scatterlist array and
284	populate it with pointers to the pieces of the allocated buffer; sglen
285	should be set to the length of the array.
287	Drivers using the vmalloc() method need not (and cannot) concern themselves
288	with buffer allocation at all; videobuf will handle those details.  The
289	same is normally true of contiguous-DMA drivers as well; videobuf will
290	allocate the buffers (with dma_alloc_coherent()) when it sees fit.  That
291	means that these drivers may be trying to do high-order allocations at any
292	time, an operation which is not always guaranteed to work.  Some drivers
293	play tricks by allocating DMA space at system boot time; videobuf does not
294	currently play well with those drivers.
296	As of 2.6.31, contiguous-DMA drivers can work with a user-supplied buffer,
297	as long as that buffer is physically contiguous.  Normal user-space
298	allocations will not meet that criterion, but buffers obtained from other
299	kernel drivers, or those contained within huge pages, will work with these
300	drivers.
302	Filling the buffers
304	The final part of a videobuf implementation has no direct callback - it's
305	the portion of the code which actually puts frame data into the buffers,
306	usually in response to interrupts from the device.  For all types of
307	drivers, this process works approximately as follows:
309	 - Obtain the next available buffer and make sure that somebody is actually
310	   waiting for it.
312	 - Get a pointer to the memory and put video data there.
314	 - Mark the buffer as done and wake up the process waiting for it.
316	Step (1) above is done by looking at the driver-managed list_head structure
317	- the one which is filled in the buf_queue() callback.  Because starting
318	the engine and enqueueing buffers are done in separate steps, it's possible
319	for the engine to be running without any buffers available - in the
320	vmalloc() case especially.  So the driver should be prepared for the list
321	to be empty.  It is equally possible that nobody is yet interested in the
322	buffer; the driver should not remove it from the list or fill it until a
323	process is waiting on it.  That test can be done by examining the buffer's
324	done field (a wait_queue_head_t structure) with waitqueue_active().
326	A buffer's state should be set to VIDEOBUF_ACTIVE before being mapped for
327	DMA; that ensures that the videobuf layer will not try to do anything with
328	it while the device is transferring data.
330	For scatter/gather drivers, the needed memory pointers will be found in the
331	scatterlist structure described above.  Drivers using the vmalloc() method
332	can get a memory pointer with:
334	    void *videobuf_to_vmalloc(struct videobuf_buffer *buf);
336	For contiguous DMA drivers, the function to use is:
338	    dma_addr_t videobuf_to_dma_contig(struct videobuf_buffer *buf);
340	The contiguous DMA API goes out of its way to hide the kernel-space address
341	of the DMA buffer from drivers.
343	The final step is to set the size field of the relevant videobuf_buffer
344	structure to the actual size of the captured image, set state to
345	VIDEOBUF_DONE, then call wake_up() on the done queue.  At this point, the
346	buffer is owned by the videobuf layer and the driver should not touch it
347	again.
349	Developers who are interested in more information can go into the relevant
350	header files; there are a few low-level functions declared there which have
351	not been talked about here.  Also worthwhile is the vivi driver
352	(drivers/media/platform/vivi.c), which is maintained as an example of how V4L2
353	drivers should be written.  Vivi only uses the vmalloc() API, but it's good
354	enough to get started with.  Note also that all of these calls are exported
355	GPL-only, so they will not be available to non-GPL kernel modules.
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