Not coherent cache DMA for G3/G4 CPUs: clarification needed

Eugene Surovegin ebs at
Fri Apr 21 06:38:48 EST 2006

On Thu, Apr 20, 2006 at 08:57:46PM +0200, Gerhard Pircher wrote:
> Hi,
> I try to implement not coherent cache/DMA support for G3/G4 processors, by
> reserving some physical memory for DMA operations. The memory used for
> consistent allocations (removed from the top of the physical memory below
> 896MB) is excluded from the BAT mapping and the pages are marked as
> reserved. This seems to work just fine, although I still have to mark the
> pages as cache inhibited.
> Whilst working on this workaround for the AmigaOne and reading some articles
> about the Linux kernel page tables and memory management, I came to the
> conclusion that there may be some problems with this approach for not
> coherent DMA: 
> 1. The AmigaOne is similar to the PREP platform, i.e. DMA can only be
> performed in the first 16MB for ISA devices (there's only a VIA southbridge,
> no other SuperI/O IC with 32bit capable DMA controller). I guess the first
> 16MB cannot be reserved for not coherent DMA operation, because this memory
> area is occupied by kernel data? (not to talk about the performance loss, if
> the kernel data area would be excluded from the BAT mapping).
> 2. I'm not sure how to allocate memory for DMA operation. I think
> alloc_pages() will not do the job for me, as the page tables for not
> coherent DMA are reserved (SetPageReserved()) and removed from the available
> lowmem. Also memory fragmentation may be a problem, if a lot DMA operations
> with different buffer sizes are performed. Therefore a system could quickly
> run out of memory for not coherent DMA operation, right?
> Is there a way to minimize fragmentation?
> 3. How are DMA buffers used outside the kernel? Do user programs get a
> pointer to the DMA buffer (in theory) from the device driver or is the data
> copied to another buffer allocated by an user program?

There are already non-coherent cache PPC archs (8xx, 4xx) just look 
how all this implemented there, don't reinvent the wheel.

Also, read Documentation/DMA-API.txt and DMA-mapping.txt


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