AM335x GPIO Userspace driver

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PLEASE NOTE: This driver only makes sense for AM335x chips. Absolutely DO NOT RUN IT if you're on a different system. Almost anything (surely very bad) can happen if you do.

This is a userspace driver for the GPIO banks on the AM335x chips. A userspace drivers has two importants points that distinguish it from a kernel driver.

  • No protection. Memory bugs can cause the hardware to malfunction. Protecting against this is impossible since the device memory is actually mapped to the program's virtual memory.

  • No context switching. In this particular case, the driver is way faster than going through the Kernel, since context switches are very costly compared to setting/clearing a GPIO pin (setting 1 bit in memory).


User code should call gpio_init() before doing anything else. This sets up the mappings to the device memory. gpio_init() returns 0 on success and 1 on failure.

When gpio_init() fails, it leaves a standard error code in gpio_errno. All other library functions do the same.

Once gpio_init() succeeds, the user can call gpio_attach() to a request a certain GPIO set to use. This sets the direction of the pins and requests them from the kernel.

gpio_attach returns a pointer to an opaque gpio_info object which holds data to be used by the library. gpio_attach returns NULL on failure. Example usages are:

ginfo = gpio_attach(2, bit(3) | bit(4), GPIO_OUT);

If that succeds, now ginfo represents pins 3 and 4 of the 2nd GPIO bank, as output. Now one can do:

gpio_set(ginfo);    /* Sets all the requested pins as high */

Also some helper functions are defined.

gpio_set_mask(ginfo, mask); /* Sets the pins specified in mask */

Both of these functions do a bitwise-and (&) of the mask with the original mask specified in attach, to prevent issues. In fact,

gpio_set_mask(ginfo, ~0) == gpio_set(ginfo)

Also one can set pins individually indexed by pin number.

gpio_set_pin(ginfo, 3); /* Sets pin 3 of the specified bank
               in ginfo, does nothing if it was
               not requested */

In fact, gpio_set_pin(ginfo, 2) == gpio_set_mask(ginfo, bit(2))

Of course, all the analogues for clearing pins (gpio_clear, gpio_clear_mask, gpio_clear_pin) exist and work the same way.

For input, only one pin can be present int the mask given to gpio_attach. The pin is read with gpio_read. ginfo = gpio_attach(0, 22, GPIO_IN); if (ginfo == NULL) { / .... / }

val = gpio_read(ginfo);

The gpio_set, gpio_clear, and gpio_read functions never return any errors.

You can attach any amount of handlers for pins, but you can't attach the same pins twice from different handlers.

Once done with a certain handler, the user needs to call gpio_detach with it:

ginfo = gpio_attach(0, 22, GPIO_IN);

/* ... */



Running the "cycle" program on a BeagleBone Black gives the following output:

# ./cycle 10000000 1 21
Testing with GPIO 1 2097152
10000000 set/clears in 4495.187ms
Frequency: 2.225MHz
Closed library

10 million set/clears done in 4.5 seconds, for a frequency of around 2.225 MHz. All of these are validated by plugging a logic analyzer, and no signals are missed at all.