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SubjectRe: [PATCH 00/13] arm64: Allwinner A64 support based on sunxi-ng
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Hi Maxime,

thanks for your answer, much appreciated!

On 23/08/16 20:31, Maxime Ripard wrote:
> Hi Andre,
>
> On Mon, Aug 01, 2016 at 02:43:06AM +0100, André Przywara wrote:
>> Hi Maxime,
>>
>> On 26/07/16 21:30, Maxime Ripard wrote:
>>> Hi,
>>>
>>> Here is the previous A64 patches made by Andre [1], reworked to use
>>> the new sunxi-ng clock framework.
>>>
>>> This uses the current H3 clock code, as both are really similar. The
>>> first patches are just meant to rework slightly the H3 code, before
>>> introducing the A64-related patches.
>>>
>>> Some WiP stuff have been removed, such as the MMC part, but this serie
>>> already has a decent amount of devices supported: uart, i2c, rsb, etc.
>>
>> Thanks very much for looking into this and compiling this series!
>>
>> In general this looks good to me - apart from the sunxi-ng clock usage.
>> I think I have some small fixes to the DT (have to compare against my
>> latest local branch), I will comment on this later.
>>
>> As I think I never officially expressed my concerns about the new sunxi
>> clock system, so I use that opportunity here ;-)
>>
>> As this became quite a long read, here a TL;DR:
>> - We consider using an SCPI based clock system for the A64, alongside
>> allwinner,simple-gates and fixed clocks. We try to avoid any Allwinner
>> specific clocks (apart from the simple-gates).
>> - ARM Trusted Firmware provides the SCPI implementation - for now, later
>> we may move this into a possible arisc firmware.
>> - We upstream some basic DT first, possibly omitting any controversial
>> clock parts at all.
>>
>> Let me know what you think!
>>
>>
>> Now the long part ....
>>
>> Basically I see those issues with the new clocks:
>> - sunxi-ng requires a complicated SoC specific source file in the
>> kernel. Although that makes the DT pretty easy (and avoids breaking it
>> the future), it ultimately requires an explicit code drop for every new
>> SoC, even if they share 95% of the clocks (as H3 and A64 do, for instance).
>> - This code file does not actually contain any code, instead it's just
>> data and looks like it should really be presented in DT - which brings
>> us back to something like the old sunxi clock scheme, which is
>> apparently not considered good enough. I still wonder if we could create
>> a generic sunxi-ng user, which explains the needed clocks in the DT
>> instead of in code. I admit that looks like quite some work.
>> - It makes it quite hard for any other DT user (*BSD, U-Boot) to use the
>> clocks, since they would have to copy quite verbatim the Linux
>> implementation choice. This is admittedly also true for the old clock
>> framework, but still unfortunate.
>
> 3 - You never get a complete clock support for any SoC, requirining
> for pretty much every driver to create from scratch a new clock
> driver.

I don't understand this. Are you referring to the old clock system? Or
to the proposed SCPI approach? Or to sunxi-ng with DT descriptions?

And why would a *driver* care about a specific clock if it's using the
common clock framework?
Confused ...

> 4 - You require for all these clocks drivers some Ack from both the DT
> and clocks maintainers, who both said they were fed up with this.

Again which new clock drivers? The old sunxi-clks?
For the SCPI version I propose we don't need any ACKs (apart from the
new .dtsi, maybe), because the clocks are already there.

> 5 - If you realise some day down the road that the parenting
> relationship is not right, or that some clock is not doing what
> you thought it was, you can't really fix it properly because of
> the DT stability you wanted us to enforce.
>
>> So as mentioned several times before, I am looking into a more firmware
>> driven clock system using the SCPI[1] framework.
>> The idea is:
>> - The basic clocks (OSC24M, OSC32K, AHB1, APB1, APB2, PERIPH0) are
>> expressed as fixed clocks. If I am not mistaken, Allwinner recommends
>> certain frequencies for them anyway, so we just use that and set them up
>> before booting Linux, for instance in ATF.
>> - The gates clocks are expressed as before, but by defining a generic DT
>> compatible fallback name. I have no idea why every SoC enters its name
>> into the simple_gates.c source file, while just mentioning the
>> compatible string in the DT bindings and using the SoC specific name
>> together with a generic fallback like "allwinner,sunxi-simple-gates"
>> would suffice. This means that we don't need to touch simple-gates.c
>> anymore most of the time.
>> - Any clock that can (and has to) be programmed with a variable
>> frequency is expressed as an SCPI clock. This interface allows basically
>> querying and setting a frequency - not very powerful, but sufficient for
>> the clocks I checked. Firmware then takes the burden of programming the
>> respective clock register - which is not rocket science if we lock the
>> base clocks to a certain frequency.
>>
>> The advantage of this approach would be:
>> - The impact to Linux code is minimized. Normally there would be no need
>> to touch the kernel at all when we introduce a new SoC.
>
> But you duplicate the clock framework entirely, both the core code and
> the data you were complaining about, with all the issues that arise
> from code duplication. You still have to create that big file you were
> complaining about, with exactly the same constraints.

We don't need to comply with some common clock framework in firmware, we
just need to provide implementations for specific clocks. From a
maintainer's point of view the CCF is nice, but its implementation is
quite complicated and hard to understand for mere mortals. Also tweaking
a particular clock is not easy, as it has to fit into the framework and
we may miss the interfaces.

See the MMC clock implementation for instance: it's just a simple
divider clock. My implementation in ATF is probably bad and stupid, but
at the end of the day I just have to provide a way to set a frequency of
one single clock.
I think we win a lot if we go away from possibly tuning the parent's
clocks (AHB, PLL6 & friends), instead leaving them as fixed clocks - my
understanding is that Allwinner recommends this anyway. Then the whole
complex clock tree degrades into just a bunch of more or less
independent clock registers.
Also we can go with a much easier implementation, since we don't need to
support all clocks in one image, but just the clocks for one particular
SoC. This brings the complexity down, so we can get away with a much
simpler implementation (compare U-Boot, though this isn't the best
example, admittedly).

>> - Any other DT user can quite easily make use of the clock system
>> without adding tons of complicated Allwinner specific clock code. The
>> simple-gates driver is almost trivial to implement, and chances are SCPI
>> is already around anyway.
>> - If there are any peculiarities with a certain clock (implementation),
>> we can solve this in firmware. Fixes to code would immediately benefit
>> all users - existing kernels (from distributions), newer kernels and
>> other OSes.
>
> But no-one would actually be able to use it, because no one upgrades
> its firmware, including all the major distributions (Debian, Ubuntu,
> Fedora, OpenWRT, Arch, Gento, you name it). So there's effectively no
> way to fix a bug that was there.

But currently distributions do upgrade U-Boot, don't they? ATF would be
part of a FIT image, compiled alongside U-Boot and included in one image
with the SPL and the U-Boot proper. In the Allwinner world with firmware
on SD cards or in eMMC I don't see big issues.
Also honestly I don't expect frequent updates. Yes: in the beginning we
may have changes, but at some point we make a (tested) release and maybe
publish updates every now and then. Either these updates fix bugs or
provide new features, so there is some incentive for users to update. Or
they don't care, in which case it may just work for them and they keep
using the old version.

>> - Having SCPI gives us simple regulators and sensors (temperature,
>> power) for free (in terms of no Linux code required). It also allows for
>> DVFS support, though this may require more work on the firmware side.
>
> And ignoring all the other features that the PMIC support, and the
> board uses out there (GPIO, ADCs, Power supplies, battery charger, USB
> VBUS monitoring)

Replying to that in that other email ...

>> - This approach matches many of the more serious ARM64 machines out
>> there, which refrain from exposing all of their clock framework to Linux.
>
> $ git grep -l scpi arch/arm64/boot/dts/**.dtsi
> arch/arm64/boot/dts/arm/juno-base.dtsi
>
> Are you saying that only Juno is a serious ARM64 machine?

I wasn't referring to SCPI in particular (which is indeed used only by
Juno at the moment), but about not exposing the actual internal clock
layout to Linux. PCs certainly don't, but also AMD Seattle and ThunderX
avoid this.

>> Also this opens the door to much easier support for new SoCs - up to a
>> point where any new chip would actually run out of the box on existing
>> distributions (thinking of LTS releases here). The pinctrl driver is a
>> nasty guy around here - but let's not make it worse and try to fix that
>> guy later ;-)
>
> That's not true and you know it.
>
> What you actually suggest is to implement a minimal set of clocks in
> ATF (the opposite being, the entire set of clocks, which would of
> course be untested, so it basically falls down in the exact same
> category).
>
> What this means is that, since we will obviously not support all the
> clocks client from day one, any user will be *required* for a new
> kernel release to operate as it's expected to upgrade the ATF.

I don't see that these are related - unless you consider the DT part of
the kernel - which it clearly isn't (although the current scheme of DT
updates suggests this). Actually the firmware should provide the DT,
just advertising all the clocks it implements.
And as I don't expect implementing an isolated clock as an SCPI clock to
be rocket science, I'd hope for the error rate to be minimal.
So we may publish an early firmware version with support for certain
devices only and later upgrade this. U-Boot gets also upgraded via the
distributions at the moment. We could even introduce some firmware
upgrade infrastructure (or use the Linux one) if we find us in dire need
for.

> Without any help from the distribution (s)he's running, because no one
> has that kind of scenario in mind. And let's be honest, I don't see
> Ubuntu changing the dependencies for the kernel for the Allwinner SoCs
> alone (let alone the fact that it's pretty much impossible in a
> generic way to know where and how the ATF is installed).

Again how does this differ from U-Boot, which I consider firmware as
well and which is handled by the distributions (although I don't like
this approach very much, because it pushes hardware support to Linux
vendors).

> Apart from being a major pain for any user, upgrading the bootloader
> is also a showstopper for most industries.
>
> So, no, we won't do that. The A64 support is something we actually
> want to use in real-life products, and our users to be happy with the
> support they have.

I can understand that we can just do what we did in the past: Spoon feed
every new SoC as soon as we get our hands on some boards and explicitly
add support for it in the Linux kernel.
But I'd like to revisit this approach, as it actually takes quite some
time for support to trickle in down the kernel road - especially if we
look at major distributions (think LTS).
If we can get closer to a state were new SoCs just require appropriate
firmware and a DT - without any new kernel code - I see a big
opportunity to get much quicker support for new SoCs - up to a point
where the firmware is the only thing that's needed. Maybe some day the
board vendors provide these firmware bits even, who knows?

Another thing that strikes me: Currently we have strict per-SoC pinctrl
drivers, which is unfortunate. But now we are adding new clock
_descriptions_ for new SoCs as well, partly degrading the DT to a mere
"board file selector". IIRC Linus complained about those numerous clock
updates for ARM boards back then in his big ARM rant, I am just afraid
that we go back to this state, bloating the kernel with SoC specific
clock details - that it not necessarily needs to know about. In the end
the kernel just wants to program this MMC clock to 52 MHz.

>
> NAK.

Cheers,
Andre.

P.S. I am cowardly leaving for a few days off after hitting the Send
button, so don't expect immediate replies.

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