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PPBUS(4) NetBSD Kernel Interfaces Manual PPBUS(4)
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ppbus -- Parallel Port Bus system with GPIO
ppbus* at atppc?
gpio* at ppbus?
lpt* at ppbus?
plip* at ppbus?
pps* at ppbus?
The ppbus system provides a uniform, modular, and architecture-indepen-
dent system for the implementation of drivers to control various parallel
devices, and to use different parallel port chip sets.
In order to write new drivers or port existing drivers, the ppbus system
provides the following facilities:
· architecture-independent macros or functions to access parallel
· mechanism to allow various devices to share the same parallel
· a gpio(4) interface to access the individual pins
· a user interface named ppi(4) that allows parallel port access
from outside the kernel without conflicting with kernel-in
Developing new drivers
The ppbus system has been designed to support the development of standard
and non-standard software:
Driver Description It uses standard and non-standard parallel port
ppi Parallel port interface for general I/O
pps Pulse per second Timing Interface
Porting existing drivers
Another approach to the ppbus system is to port existing drivers. Vari-
ous drivers have already been ported:
lpt lpt printer driver
lp plip network interface driver
ppbus should let you port any other software even from other operating
systems that provide similar services.
PARALLEL PORT CHIP SETS
Parallel port chip set support is provided by atppc(4).
The ppbus system provides functions and macros to request service from
the ppbus including reads, writes, setting of parameters, and bus
atppc(4) detects chip set and capabilities and sets up interrupt han-
dling. It makes methods available for use to the ppbus system.
PARALLEL PORT MODEL
The logical parallel port model chosen for the ppbus system is the AT
parallel port model. Consequently, for the atppc implementation of
ppbus, most of the services provided by ppbus will translate into I/O
instructions on actual registers. However, other parallel port implemen-
tations may require more than one I/O instruction to do a single logical
register operation on data, status and control virtual registers.
The parallel port may operate in the following modes:
· Compatible (Centronics -- the standard parallel port mode)
mode, output byte
· Nibble mode, input 4-bits
· Byte (PS/2) mode, input byte
· Extended Capability Port (ECP) mode, bidirectional byte
· Enhanced Parallel Port (EPP) mode, bidirectional byte
This mode defines the protocol used by most PCs to transfer data to a
printer. In this mode, data is placed on the port's data lines, the
printer status is checked for no errors and that it is not busy, and then
a data Strobe is generated by the software to clock the data to the
Many I/O controllers have implemented a mode that uses a FIFO buffer to
transfer data with the Compatibility mode protocol. This mode is
referred to as ``Fast Centronics'' or ``Parallel Port FIFO mode''.
The Nibble mode is the most common way to get reverse channel data from a
printer or peripheral. When combined with the standard host to printer
mode, a bidirectional data channel is created. Inputs are accomplished
by reading 4 of the 8 bits of the status register.
In this mode, the data register is used either for outputs and inputs.
All transfers are 8-bits long. Channel direction must be negotiated when
doing IEEE 1248 compliant operations.
Extended Capability Port mode
The ECP protocol was proposed as an advanced mode for communication with
printer and scanner type peripherals. Like the EPP protocol, ECP mode
provides for a high performance bidirectional communication path between
the host adapter and the peripheral.
ECP protocol features include:
Run_Length_Encoding (RLE) data compression for host adapters (not
supported in these drivers)
FIFO's for both the forward and reverse channels
DMA or programmed I/O for the host register interface.
Enhanced Parallel Port mode
The EPP protocol was originally developed as a means to provide a high
performance parallel port link that would still be compatible with the
standard parallel port.
The EPP mode has two types of cycle: address and data. What makes the
difference at hardware level is the strobe of the byte placed on the data
lines. Data are strobed with nAutofeed, addresses are strobed with nSe-
A particularity of the ISA implementation of the EPP protocol is that an
EPP cycle fits in an ISA cycle. In this fashion, parallel port peripher-
als can operate at close to the same performance levels as an equivalent
ISA plug-in card.
At software level, you may implement the protocol you wish, using data
and address cycles as you want. This is for the IEEE 1284 compatible
part. Peripheral vendors may implement protocol handshake with the fol-
lowing status lines: PError, nFault and Select. Try to know how these
lines toggle with your peripheral, allowing the peripheral to request
more data, stop the transfer and so on.
At any time, the peripheral may interrupt the host with the nAck signal
without disturbing the current transfer.
Some manufacturers, like SMC, have implemented chip sets that support
mixed modes. With such chip sets, mode switching is available at any
time by accessing the extended control register. All ECP-capable chip
sets can switch between standard, byte, fast centronics, and ECP modes.
Some ECP chip sets also support switching to EPP mode.
IEEE 1284 1994 Standard
This standard is also named ``IEEE Standard Signaling Method for a
Bidirectional Parallel Peripheral Interface for Personal Computers''. It
defines a signaling method for asynchronous, fully interlocked, bidirec-
tional parallel communications between hosts and printers or other
peripherals. It also specifies a format for a peripheral identification
string and a method of returning this string to the host.
This standard is architecture independent and only specifies dialog hand-
shake at signal level. One should refer to architecture specific docu-
mentation in order to manipulate machine dependent registers, mapped mem-
ory or other methods to control these signals.
The IEEE 1284 protocol is fully oriented with all supported parallel port
modes. The computer acts as master and the peripheral as slave.
Any transfer is defined as a finite state automate. It allows software
to properly manage the fully interlocked scheme of the signaling method.
The compatible mode is supported ``as is'' without any negotiation
because it is the default, backward-compatible transfer mode. Any other
mode must be firstly negotiated by the host to check it is supported by
the peripheral, then to enter one of the forward idle states.
At any time, the slave may want to send data to the host. The host must
negotiate to permit the peripheral to complete the transfer. Interrupt
lines may be dedicated to the requesting signals to prevent time consum-
ing polling methods.
If the host accepts the transfer, it must firstly negotiate the reverse
mode and then start the transfer. At any time during reverse transfer,
the host may terminate the transfer or the slave may drive wires to sig-
nal that no more data is available.
IEEE 1284 Standard support has been implemented at the top of the ppbus
system as a set of procedures that perform high level functions like
negotiation, termination, transfer in any mode without bothering you with
low level characteristics of the standard.
IEEE 1284 interacts with the ppbus system as little as possible. That
means you still have to request the ppbus when you want to access it, and
of course, release it when finished.
Chip set, ppbus and device layers
First, there is the chip set layer, the lowest of the ppbus system. It
provides chip set abstraction through a set of low level functions that
maps the logical model to the underlying hardware.
Secondly, there is the ppbus layer that provides functions to:
1. share the parallel port bus among the daisy-chain like con-
2. manage devices linked to ppbus
3. propose an arch-independent interface to access the hardware
Finally, the device layer represents the traditional device drivers such
as lpt(4) which now use an abstraction instead of real hardware.
Parallel port mode management
Operating modes are differentiated at various ppbus system layers. There
is a difference between a capability and a mode. A chip set may have a
combination of capabilities, but at any one time the ppbus system oper-
ates in a single mode.
Nibble mode is a virtual mode: the actual chip set would be in standard
mode and the driver would change its behavior to drive the right lines on
the parallel port.
Each child device of ppbus must set its operating mode and other parame-
ters whenever it requests and gets access to its parent ppbus.
The boot process
ppbus attachment tries to detect any PnP parallel peripheral (according
to Plug and Play Parallel Port Devices draft from (c)1993-4 Microsoft
Corporation) then probes and attaches known device drivers.
During probe, device drivers should request the ppbus and try to deter-
mine if the right capabilities are present in the system.
Bus request and interrupts
ppbus reservation via a bus request is mandatory not to corrupt I/O of
other devices. For example, when the lpt(4) device is opened, the bus
will be ``allocated'' to the device driver and attempts to reserve the
bus for another device will fail until the lpt(4) driver releases the
Child devices can also register interrupt handlers to be called when a
hardware interrupt occurs. In order to attach a handler, drivers must
own the bus. Drivers should have interrupt handlers that check to see if
the device still owns the bus when they are called and/or ensure that
these handlers are removed whenever the device does not own the bus.
Micro-sequences are a general purpose mechanism to allow fast low-level
manipulation of the parallel port. Micro-sequences may be used to do
either standard (in IEEE 1284 modes) or non-standard transfers. The phi-
losophy of micro-sequences is to avoid the overhead of the ppbus layer
for a sequence of operations and do most of the job at the chip set
A micro-sequence is an array of opcodes and parameters. Each opcode
codes an operation (opcodes are described in microseq(9)). Standard I/O
operations are implemented at ppbus level whereas basic I/O operations
and microseq language are coded at adapter level for efficiency.
Pins 1 through 17 of the parallel port can be controlled through the
gpio(4) interface, pins 18 through 25 are hardwired to ground. Pins 10
through 13 and pin 15 are input pins, the others are output pins. Some
of the pins are inverted by the hardware, the values read or written are
adjusted accordingly. Note that the gpio(4) interface starts at 0 when
atppc(4), gpio(4), lpt(4), plip(4), ppi(4), microseq(9)
The ppbus system first appeared in FreeBSD 3.0.
This manual page is based on the FreeBSD ppbus manual page. The informa-
tion has been updated for the NetBSD port by Gary Thorpe.
The ppbus framework is still experimental and not enabled by default yet.
NetBSD 9.0 August 19, 2009 NetBSD 9.0