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Monthly Archives: December 2011

AVR32 Interrupt System and Wrap up

It’s been a while since the last post, this is the last post on the AVR32 4 dummies series because after this one there isn’t nothing to talk about. I decided not to talk about the UC3 peripherals because is standard stuff, UART, SPI, I2C, about the device drivers construction, the reason is the same there are thousands of ways to do it, and I still didn’t found the ideal way to do them.

MOS Interrupt Handling and interrupt thread switch.

In the previous post, I talked about the different ways that MOS has to switch threads, one of them was via interrupt, to do that MOS vector the interrupts via software, by doing this it looses precious time attending interrupt, because every time that an interrupt is signalized MOS  code runs to find out what interrupt it was and if is time to switch threads.

This indirect way to call an interrupt service routine makes the code to configure them portable, meaning that I didn’t touch my Kernel code between architectures, that may seem obvious but I’m very proud of that XD.

Going back to the interrupt thread switch, the MOS common trap (when an interrupt is signaled the CPU jumps to this function) is responsible to arrange things to MOS interrupt handling system. That arrangement is as simple as passing a pointer to pointer to the thread context.  As I said before, the context switch routine and the common trap are directly connected, they store the CPU registers and flags by the same order (so that when a thread is switched back all registers are popped the right way).

Although the common trap is architecture dependent the system common trap is not (it’s writted in C), so the purpose of the common trap is to store the all the registers not saved by the CPU and call the system common trap.
The system common trap simply delegates to the (MOS) interrupt controller the handling of the interrupt. In the middle of the interrupt handling the interrupt controller queries the kernel to check if a thread switch is needed. Remember the pointer to pointer that the common trap saves? The context switch happens by changing the value pointed (by the pointer xDD) to the next thread stack. By doing this when the common trap returns from the interrupt, it will restore not the thread that was running before the ISR but a new thread (how not confusing is this xD).

You can found on github the system common trap and the common trap   (labelled as int0)

UC3 Interrupt Controller

I didn’t make my own irq controller (shame on me), I browsed the Atmel peripherals library and take out the sources to the MOS. The main reason for that was the initialization stuff, and the fact that in UC3 the mask and unmask operations are done directly on the peripheral not on the interrupt controller. So there isn’t much to do, just initialization, ISR configuration and non vectored interrupt discovery.

As I said in one of the previous posts, the AVR32 architecture doesn’t have fixed memory positions for the exceptions/interrupts (being the reset exception the exception xDDD), they all have an indirect location. That locations is given by the Exception Vector Base Address (EVBA). The interrupt handlers and exception handlers have their location fixed in relation of the EVBA value. By having this kind of mechanism you can virtually have your handlers in any location that you want, that is a cool feature of this architecture. So when making your own interrupt controller driver don’t forget to set the evba correctly 😉

Wrap Up

First I apologize for the lack of AVR32 content on this post, the reality is that there isn’t much to talk about about interrupt handling on AVR32, is very simple to understand. I learn a precious thing by not making any kind of device driver, learn how to read and understand other people code, really usually I just go and make everything from the bit on register X to the pretty printf that writes on uart. In embedded world that is an interesting skill to achieve, since in the real world you don’t make all device drivers, you use what you have and most of the time, those were made by people that don’t understand how software is supposed to be done.

I had fun with AVR32, didn’t really like some stuff, like the fact that you can’t mask and unmask specific peripheral interrupts in one place (in the UC3, this doesn’t mean that all CPUs work this way), I liked the many modes of interrupt and the fact that you can individually disable them, but honestly in real world you don’t use just 4 interrupts, you want to map all of them and not care about the interrupt controller.

Finally I’m sad about not liking this architecture, the main reason is the development environment, because all that I tried to this point were horrible, and AVR studio was really a breath of fresh air and astonishing way to program to embedded systems.

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