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Writing Device Drivers
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Store Buffers

To improve performance, the CPU uses internal store buffers to temporarily store data. Using internal buffers can affect the synchronization of device I/O operations. Therefore, the driver needs to take explicit steps to make sure that writes to registers are completed at the proper time.

For example, consider the case where access to device space, such as registers or a frame buffer, is synchronized by a lock. The driver needs to check that the store to the device space has actually completed before releasing the lock. The release of the lock does not guarantee the flushing of I/O buffers.

To give another example, when acknowledging an interrupt, the driver usually sets or clears a bit in a device control register. The driver must ensure that the write to the control register has reached the device before the interrupt handler returns. Similarly, a device might require a delay, that is, driver busy-waits, after writing a command to the control register. In such a case, the driver must ensure that the write has reached the device before delaying.

Where device registers can be read without undesirable side effects, verification of a write can simply consist of reading the register immediately after the write. If that particular register cannot be read without undesirable side effects, another device register in the same register set can be used.

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  Published under the terms fo the Public Documentation License Version 1.01. Design by Interspire