SDIO Performance once again

Dan Williams dcbw at
Mon Feb 9 11:13:26 EST 2009

On Mon, 2009-02-09 at 08:21 -0500, Jeff Sutherland wrote:
> On Monday 09 February 2009, Sven Neumann wrote:
> > Hi,
> >
> > On Sun, 2009-02-08 at 17:56 +0100, Dominik S. Herwald wrote:
> > > right now I am testing Marvell 8686 based Modules connected to the SDIO
> > > Controller of a Blackfin BF548.
> > >
> > > Basically the libertas driver works just fine and stable.
> > > But the Performance... :-/
> >
> > Interesting. We are having the contrary experience here. Running a
> > CM-X300 board, which is a PXA 300 featuring a Marvell 8686 module
> > connected to the SDIO controller, we are seeing a performance of about
> > 13 Mbits/sec.
> >
> > Unfortunately this is not stable. Sometimes (rarely on one of the two
> > boards we have, frequently on the other), there are errors:
> >
> > libertas: tx watch dog timeout
> >
> > When this happens it usually takes about six seconds for the module to
> > recover. During this period nothing is transmitted. At some point,
> > sooner or later, the following errors shows up:
> >
> > libertas: command 0x001f timed out
> > libertas: requeueing command 0x001f due to timeout (#1)
> > libertas: command 0x001f timed out
> > libertas: requeueing command 0x001f due to timeout (#2)
> > libertas: command 0x001f timed out
> > libertas: requeueing command 0x001f due to timeout (#3)
> > libertas: tx watch dog timeout
> > libertas: command 0x001f timed out
> > libertas: Excessive timeouts submitting command 0x001f
> >
> > At this point the module stops to work completely and I haven't found a
> > way to recover from this. The system then needs to be restarted.
> >
> > We are using linux-2.6.29-rc4 currently, but observed the same problems
> > with linux-2.6.26. The firmware version is 8.73.7p3. I have also tried
> > the 9.70.3 firmware, that didn't help either.
> >
> > Has anyone experienced similar problems? Any ideas what I could try to
> > get some more debug output from the driver?
> >
> >
> > Sven
> This looks to be caused by the same situation that affects my pxa270 design 
> with an SDIO connected 8686 chipset.  Because of the multi-threading in the 
> driver, depending on cpu load, commands to the chip are sent in an 
> indeterminate sequence.  If you go turn on some debugging in the driver, such 

The firmware can only execute one command at a time, so all commands are
stuffed into the internal command queue.  Since some commands cannot be
sent during PS periods, there needs to be some authority to handle that.
Much of this general structure is left over from the 2006 Marvell vendor
driver dump that Libertas was derived from.

> as putting a printk someplace, that is usually enough of a load to pace 
> thread execution so the commands usually execute in the same sequence and 
> you'll see this error go away (along with the network performance :-(  
> Basically the 8686 firmware gets its knickers in a twist if it sees certain 
> commands executed out of sequence.  And rightly so.  There's some fundamental 
> redesign of the driver that needs doing that's beyond my programming 
> interests and abilities.

I'm not aware of any specific situations (besides WPA setup) where
commands need to be executed in a specific sequence; if there were, we
can certainly handle that in the driver.

Other than that, any commands that are submitted are done so at the
request of the user via 'iwconfig' or wpa_supplicant; these are queued
atomically into the main command queue.

Much of the association process (including the worker and the back-off
timer stuff in assoc.c) was necessitated by the broken design of WEXT;
with cfg80211 I expect we can go back to a much simpler model whereby
the entire association request is simply sent to the firmware in one
shot.  There could be some cleanup opportunities here; ideally the
*only* communication with the firmware happens when finally setting the
parameters instead of the current behavior of some WEXT calls asking for
values before queuing up the attributes to set later.

What sort of suggestions would you have for redesign?


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