[alsa-devel] ca0106 Digital Output at 44.1kHz

Ben Stanley Ben.Stanley at exemail.com.au
Tue May 20 16:32:19 CEST 2008

Further to this old discussion of 44.1kHz on ca0106 cards,

I have implemented a patch that 'works for me' on my mythtv box. It
allows me to play 44.1kHz to SPDIF digital output.

I only need one 'device', e.g. hw:0,0 . Just as well, I can only manage
to get output from hw:0,0 on SPDIF on my Sound Blaster Audigy Value!

I never received any reply from Creative on my NDA request. I followed
up with Phillip Williams, who forwarded my query to corporate, but
didn't receive a reply from that. I need to follow up again.

Anyway, I have a patch. I have based it upon the current Ubuntu kernel
2.6.22-14.52. I have attached the patch with respect to the original
file, and the complete modified file. I think I have more work to do
before it can be merged, such as re-basing the patch on latest git. (I
had problems accessing git tonight, so I'll try again when fixed.)

I implemented a constraint system to restrict the available sampling
frequencies in accordance with the rules previously determined (you may
select one or more channels in 44.1kHz, XOR you may select one or more
channels in any of 48kHz, 96kHz and 192kHz).

The problem is to decide when a device has its sampling frequency
'allocated'. At the moment, the patch uses the 'running' (true between
triggering RUN and triggering STOP) variable to determine if the device
is in use. This definition probably allows a race condition between
testing the constraint and triggering the RUN. I need some help here to
figure out a more robust scheme, as I don't understand the internals of
the ALSA PCM layer yet.

Once we have figured out how to deal with the sampling frequencies, I'll
deal with the sampling format in the same way.

Anyway, I submit the patch to the list for review and comment.

Ben Stanley.

On Thu, 2008-04-17 at 21:52 +0100, James Courtier-Dutton wrote:
> Ben Stanley wrote:
> > 
> > So, could we then change the number of channels available depending upon
> > which card is detected? It doesn't seem to make sense to make things
> > available to the user via the driver that they can't plug something into
> > on their particular model card. I guess that to do this I would have to
> > know how many digital output channels are supported by each card. I
> > downloaded the user manuals for a few of the cards; I only got the
> > impression that each card supported one digital output. Do you know
> > which card you tested for multiple outputs?
> Unfortunately the datasheets do not give me card specific details. Only 
> how to program the ca0106 chip. The GPIO etc. for each card is 
> determined by trial and error.
> > 
> > Now, the Creative Labs user documentation gives me the impression that I
> > can use the analog output channels at the same time as the digital
> > output channel. That also doesn't appear to agree with how the driver is
> > written. I am currently under the impression that the driver is written
> > to allow 4 stereo analog channels or 4 digital channels. At least that
> > is how things look when configuring things using alsamixer. Perhaps I am
> > confused and should go and look at the GPIO that you mentioned above.
> This particular sound card can output to both analog and digital 
> channels. The sound is simply duplicated to both. I disabled it 
> happening at the same time mainly due to what happens when AC3 or DTS is 
> output to the digital. One would not want that send to the analog outputs!
> > 
> >>> Details:
> >>>
> >>> The card I have is characterised by the following:
> >>> http://www.soundblaster.com/products/product.asp?category=1&subcategory=205&product=14189
> >>> Model: SB0570
> >>> serial: 100a1102
> >>> Also known as: Sound Blaster Audigy SE
> >>>
> >>> During initial testing, I noticed that 44.1kHz playback was not
> >>> implemented. Subsequent testing shows that speaker-test works fine with
> >>> 48kHz, 96kHz and 192kHz. (I only tested 16bit output so far.)
> >>>
> >>> I noticed in the source code that 44.1k was explicitly disabled. I added
> >>> code in snd_ca0106_pcm_prepare_playback to set up this rate for S/PDIF
> >>> output as per the comments in ca0106.h . Initial tests using hw:0,0 at
> >>> 44.1kHz produced recognisable signals with some noisy corruption. Later
> >>> I accidentally discovered that serially opening hw:0,2 , hw:0,1 and
> >>> hw:0,0  at 44.1kHz then produces perfectly good 44.1kHz sampled digital
> >>> audio output. Removing hw:0,1 or hw:0,2 from this sequence causes noisy
> >>> corruption. It seems that channels 0-2 in reg40 must all be set to the
> >>> same sampling frequency for S/PDIF to work where 44.1kHz is concerned.
> >>> Conversely, to sucessfully output 48kHz again, I have to open hw:0,2 ,
> >>> hw:0,1 and hw:0,0 at 48kHz to restore proper output. I do not have such
> >>> troubles with 96kHz and 192kHz, for which it suffices to just open
> >>> hw:0,0 at the relevant sampling rate.
> >>>   
> >> The ca0106 can do 44.1kHz for digital output ONLY.
> >> The ca0106 cannot output 44.1kHz to the DACs so it will only work in 
> >> Digital mode.
> >> It is a hardware restriction. You are correct, all the inputs and 
> >> outputs have to be at the same rate.
> > 
> > So far I haven't considered 'inputs', although I do now have the digital
> > I/O module so that I can get digital signals into the card. I suspect I
> > can only generate 44.1kHz and 48kHz sampled input signals to test with.
> > 
> > So for my card where only one output channel appears to be available
> > (can you tell from the doc if this is true?), then I would just slave
> > the other hardware channels to hw:0,0 settings. However, on other cards
> > where the other channels are in fact available, how do you enforce the
> > restriction that all the channels must have the same sampling frequency
> > within the ALSA model?
> > 
> > I'm just trying to plan how I would fix this properly within the driver.
> You could set the driver to fix to the rate of the first opened device, 
> and only when all devices have been closed could the rate change again.
> This is unfortunately not at all intuitive for the user. I would 
> therefore add a global mixer control to set 44.1 or 48kHz. The user 
> could then decide which to use. 44.1 would mean 44.1, 88.2 etc.
> 48 would mean 48, 96, 192.
> By the way, the spdif output on the ca0106 works well at 96kHz also.
> > 
> >>
> >>> Anyway, this is speculation. I'd love to have the docs. I haven't tried
> >>> to get them. Is it likely/unlikely that I would get them?
> >>>
> >>>   
> >> You can sign an open-source NDA and get the datasheets.
> >> It lets me write drivers like the current ca0106 and E-Mu drivers.
> >> If you are interested in a NDA, priv-email me.
> > 
> > I have applied to Creative's 'Partnership' program and faxed off the
> > forms last week. I've written user-space drivers for custom wire-wrapped
> > logic + PAL glued hardware before, but not for modern chips, or coded
> > for kernel space. Anyway, there's a first time for everything :-)
> Good luck. Who are you talking to?
> James
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