Our path to libmraa on 96Boards – Part 5

Manivannan Sadhasivam


Welcome to Part - 5 of Our path to libmraa with 96Boards series. In this part, I am going to give an update of the recently added mmap support for Dragonboard410c in libmraa.

What is mmap and its need?

mmap is a syscall in linux for mapping the virtual address to a particular physical address. This is essential for controlling the memory mapped IO peripherals. There are good reasons to avoid and use mmap in linux. One particular usage of mmap is to directly control the peripherals without going into the device driver model. This is used predominently for the below mentioned reasons:

  1. Faster access of the peripherals
  2. No interface provided to use the functionality.

Basically, reason 1 seems to suit most of the time, particularly for simple peripherals such as GPIO. For the mraa library, GPIO is controlled (till now) using old sysfs interface. This suits well for most of the use cases like turning ON and OFF a gpio line. But, when it comes to toggle the gpio continuously to generate PWM, sysfs interface will fall back. Because, there will be cretain delay in accessing the gpio which may cause the PWM waveform to be unstable.

So, the solution is to use mmap for faster access to gpio pins. But I’m not saying that the mmap interface will be lightning fast to be able to generate PWM at MHz frequency range, but will be handy most of the times.

When talking about the delay in accessing GPIO in linux, we have to include context switch delay introduced by the scheduler too. This cannot be avoided even by using mmap, and addressing this issue will be done in another blog post.

mmap support in libmraa for Dragonboard410c

mmap support for Dragonboard410c in libmraa resides in 96Boards source file. There are 4 API’s introduced for adding mmap support:

  1. mraa_db410c_mmap_setup
  2. mraa_db410c_mmap_write
  3. mraa_db410c_mmap_read
  4. mraa_db410c_mmap_unsetup

Note: The support has been added for accessing GPIO only.

Internal mapping

According to the Hardware Register Description manual for Dragonboard410c, GPIO registers are fixed starting from address 0x01000000. So, mmap call maps the physical address 0x01000000 of size 0x00120004.

For reading or writing to a particular pin, below calculation is used:

*(volatile uint32_t*) (mmap_reg + offset + 0x04)


We are at the end of this blog post. I hope this blog post gave much info on mmap and its usage in libmraa. We will be working more on libmraa in the upcoming days, stay tuned for further parts. Meanwhile, it’d be great if someone can benchmark the performance on using regular sysfs support and mmap support in libmraa and share with the community :-).

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