[alsa-devel] [PATCH 15/20] ASoC: fsl: make fsl_ssi driver compilable on ARM/IMX

Takashi Iwai tiwai at suse.de
Tue Mar 6 14:26:28 CET 2012

At Tue, 6 Mar 2012 12:33:22 +0000,
Mark Brown wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 06, 2012 at 12:25:16PM +0000, Russell King - ARM Linux wrote:
> > Please also note that in ALSA documentation, an 'atomic' callback means
> > little with respect to race conditions.  All it means is that the callback
> > is called from a context where sleeping in the callback is not permitted.
> > The documentation does not say what is protected by the ALSA spinlocks and
> > mutexes, so without reviewing the ALSA code, driver writters have little
> > idea whether they need their own locks or not.
> Well, who reads the documentation to get this stuff anyway?

At least Russell has read it ;)

Indeed, the word "atomic" in that context may be misleading.
Meanwhile, it's actually protected by spinlock against the race to
change the PCM state.  But, since the PCM state is assigned to each
substream, the protection is also only for a substream.

There are other some protections, e.g. in reset and prepare callbacks,
but these are against linked streams via rw-semaphore, so that the
linked list won't be corrupted.  So, each substream instance isn't
entirely protected in these cases.

> As you
> observe it's far from complete about what's what locked when and how so
> you need to go to the code to see what's actually going on, especially
> whenever you need to call back into the ALSA APIs.  Though of course I'm
> pretty sure there's a bunch of uniprocessor assumptions through the body
> of driver code anyway...

Not that much actually.  On the contrary, because of the current
design allowing concurrent accesses, many codes have been written
rather in too complex and messy ways.  It could have been much
simplified if we didn't consider the concurrent accesses to each

In summary, it's the lowlevel driver's responsibility to protect the
concurrent hardware access.  The ALSA core protects (in some level)
the change of the PCM internal state of each substream.  But it
doesn't restrict the concurrent accesses over multiple substreams at


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