Polling vs. Interrupts in counting pulses - what is better?

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Hi. When counting pulses using a microcontroller (say from an encoder
or pulse generator), there are two methods: polling and using
interrupts. Two alternative designs can be used (well, at least), one
is to have the Microcontroller do it directly, and the other is to use
a dedicated chip to do it. The concern is of course that the
microcontroller might miss pulses if it is loaded with other tasks.

So which method is prefered? Any suggestions?

Thanks


Re: Polling vs. Interrupts in counting pulses - what is better?

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Depends on your pulse rate and processor loading.  One thing to look at
is the Time Processor Unit (TPU) on Freescale 683xx and PowerPC micros.
It is a microcoded coprocessor with the ability to execute either
ROM-based or RAM-based microcode.  Freescale provides a variety of
routines in ROM for various functions.  Infineon probably has micros with
similar units.  

See http://www.eslave.net/index.shtml for some TPU info.


    ~Dave~

Re: Polling vs. Interrupts in counting pulses - what is better?
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Depends on processor speed, loading and data rate, plus the consequences
of missing the odd change.

If the change is slow compared with the polling cycle you can do (say,
it's never going to be > 1k changes/ second), you can simply poll the
inputs in a 1ms rate interrupt.

If you don't mind losing the odd pulse (say a mouse or an encoder used
as a volume etc. control), just ignore cycles where there's more than 1
state change, and resynch the process.

Faster than that, it's quite economical to add a PLD to do the encoder
for you (example on OpenCores if you can't work it out), depending on
the application you might only need a short counter which can be
extended in the interrupt.

Paul Burke

Re: Polling vs. Interrupts in counting pulses - what is better?

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Most micros allow you to use a counter directly only interrupting at
over/underflow, this is by far the best method. For counting from an
encoder there are micros with up/down biphase counters especialy for
this application.Useing interrupts is the next best method but you are
quite restricted as to how fast you can go. Polling is the very worst
option only suited to slow rates and non critical counts.


Re: Polling vs. Interrupts in counting pulses - what is better?

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I assume you really mean counting pulses rather than measuring the time
between pulses.  For counting pulses, most microcontrollers have counters
which can be driven from an input pin in order to count pulses. If you want
to measure speed and current position you can read the counter at fixed
intervals. If you want to do something after a fixed number of pulses you
can usually pre-load the counter with 0-counts required so it overflows at
the required count. Most counters can be made to cause an interrupt on
overflow.

If you need to do something every pulse that is a whole different ball game.

Ian

Re: Polling vs. Interrupts in counting pulses - what is better?

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Use a microcontroller with an embedded counter circuit.  As an example, the
PIC18F4550 (nothing special aobut it, I just happen to have the datasheet
handy) has 4 timer circuits, and 3 can accept external clock inputs.  You
can then poll the counter circuits periodically to see the number of pulses
detected since the last reading.







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