[alsa-devel] [PATCH 2/6] ASoC/mpc5200: get rid of the appl_ptr tracking nonsense

Jon Smirl jonsmirl at gmail.com
Thu Nov 12 00:13:25 CET 2009

On Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 4:57 PM, Grant Likely <grant.likely at secretlab.ca> wrote:
> On Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 2:34 PM, Jon Smirl <jonsmirl at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 2:24 PM, Grant Likely <grant.likely at secretlab.ca> wrote:
>>> On Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 11:37 AM, Mark Brown
>>> <broonie at opensource.wolfsonmicro.com> wrote:
>>>> On Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 11:38:06AM -0500, Jon Smirl wrote:
>>>>> > Providing a final valid data point to the driver would possibly even
>>>>> > make things worse since if it were used then you'd have the equivalent
>>>>> > race where the application has initialized some data but not yet managed
>>>>> > to update the driver to tell it it's being handed over; if the driver
>>>>> That's an under run condition.
>>>> Yes, of course - the issue is that this approach encourages them, making
>>>> the system less robust if things are on the edge.  The mpc5200 seems to
>>>> be not just on the edge but comfortably beyond it for some reason.
>>> I can't reproduce the issue at all as long at the dev_dbg() statement
>>> in the trigger stop path is disabled.  With it enabled, I hear the
>>> problem every time.  The 5200 may not be a speedy beast, but it is
>>> plenty fast enough to shut down the audio stream before stale data
>>> starts getting played out.
>> "fast enough" - you just said it is a race.
>> I've been saying it is a race too.
> Yes, it is a race; but not the kind that is dangerous.  Audio playout
> is always a real-time problem; whether in the middle of a stream or at
> the end.  If the CPU gets nailed with an unbounded latency, then there
> will be audible artifacts - Regardless of whether the driver knows
> where the end of data is or not.  If it does know, then audio will
> stutter.  If it doesn't know, then there will be repeated samples.
> Both are nasty to the human ear.  So, making the driver do extra work
> to keep the extra data in sync will probably force larger minimum
> latencies for playout (trouble for VoIP apps) so the CPU can keep up,
> and won't help one iota for making audio better.

I don't think it is that much more work for ALSA to provide an
accessible field indicating the end of valid data. It's already
tracking appl_ptr. Appl_ptr just needs to be translated into a
physical DMA buffer address and we've been making mistakes doing that

> The real solution is to fix the worst case latencies.
>> There are two options:
>> 1) Eliminate the race by developing a system to deterministically flag
>> the end of valid data.
>> 2) Fudge everything around making it almost impossible to lose the
>> race, but the race is still there.
> 3) eliminate the unbounded latencies (fix the PSC driver and/or use a
> real time kernel)
> 4) make sure userspace fills all the periods with silence before
> triggering stop.  Gstreamer seems to already do this.  I suspect
> pulseaudio does the same.
>> The dev_dbg() aggravates the race until it is obviously visible every
>> time. A deterministic solution would not be impacted by the dev_dbg().
> But it still wouldn't help a bit when the same latency occurs in the
> middle of playback.

The deterministic solution of tracking the end of valid data ensures
that under run will be silent instead of playing invalid data.

> g.
> --
> Grant Likely, B.Sc., P.Eng.
> Secret Lab Technologies Ltd.

Jon Smirl
jonsmirl at gmail.com

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