Scatter-gather/DMA

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Hi ,
   Any one know how prevalent is use of either scatter gather or DMA or
both in high end embedded systems? Examples would be great..

thanks
dz


Re: Scatter-gather/DMA

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Scatter-gather describes a capability of a DMA engine.

Is this a homework assignment?

Re: Scatter-gather/DMA
Scatter-Gather is one option of a DMA.  THey are rarely found separately
nowaday.

High-end interface cards provides them; Most Gigabit Ethernet cards now
have them.  Nearly all 10 Gbps Ethernet cards uses them.

Unfortunately for Ethernet card, not all operating systems makes good
uses of Scatter-Gather.  This problem stems from rigid TCP/IP protocol
stacks that don't allow splitting of header/data payload.  SCSI
Scatter-Gather, on the other hand, are frequently supported by most OSes.

Now, for your homework assignments, tell me which O/Ses cannot support
Scatter-Gather for Ethernet?


drizzle wrote:
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Re: Scatter-gather/DMA
thanks for the answers, and it is not a homework assignment, why do I
always get this trite comment of it being a homework question, ..one
you should know that classes are just starting, two it will probably be
too specific (and hence not likely)  a course to taught in school if it
involves an assignment on scatter-gather

If I havent done a lot of harm to my cause, would you please tell me
how are they used in these interface cards if the OS does not support
them ? Again, it is not a homework assignment, I happen to be a
researcher with expertise in totally different area...

dz


Capt. James. T. Kirk wrote:
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Re: Scatter-gather/DMA

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Mainly because it *sounds* like a homework question. Most questions
asked on this newsgroup are very specific and are asked by engineers
either asking for advice on a particular device or have a problem with a
particular device.

And I know that "classes are just starting" - in your particular area
and age group - how???

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Scatter-gather DMA refers to the ability of a DMA engine to
automatically perform a string of DMA operations from non-contiguous
memory blocks in a single operation. "Scatter" refers to the ability to
write to a number of non-contiguous blocks, whilst "gather" refers to
the ability to read from a number of such blocks. IIUC, there were odd
controllers that could do one or the other, but not both!

Typically, scatter-gather requires the DMA programmer to provide a
linked-list of so-called "descriptors" each of which contain ths source
and destination address of (contiguous) blocks of memory. The DMA
controller is (typically) told where this list resides in host memory,
and fetches each descriptor before each transfer. Once the programer
hits the "go" button, the whole list is done sans-CPU by the DMA engine.

Most controllers, even if they do support scatter-gather, also support
single-block transfers - not via a descriptor stored in host memory but
rather a few registers implemented in the DMA controller itself - so the
programmer doesn't have to go to the trouble of allocating storage for a
descriptor and setting it up. Thus to do a single-block transfer, the
programmer sets up a few registers and hits "go" - the controller
doesn't need to fetch the addresses from host memory.

So then, if you have a scatter-gather controller, it is (usually)
possible to program it without enabling scatter-gather operation.

What this means is that if the OS provides a list of non-contiguous
blocks for a DMA operation, the programmer has to break that request
into a series of single-block transfers and program the DMA controller
one block at a time.

Scatter-gather is of course preferable as it allows larger transfers to
be done without CPU intervention. Multiple short DMAs become less useful
as the DMA transfer size decreases due to interrupt latency and processing.

I can only think of a couple of reasons why a scatter-gather DMA
controller would only be programmed in single-transfer mode. (1) the
programmers were lazy. (2) the OS only supplies contiguous blocks for
whatever purpose the DMA controller is being used.

Regards,
Mark

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