The uHAL / IPBus software+firmware package (source) provides a convenient way to read/write registers and memories on a hardware device. The original use case was to access programmable logic (FPGAs) on a board connected to a computer over Ethernet.

The software component (uHAL) queues requested operations (read and write) in a "packet" which is transmitted to the hardware device when a dispatch function is called. The firmware component (IPBus) parses the packet and performs the requested read and write operations in a logical 32-bit address space using a proprietary local bus (similar to Wishbone).

A key feature of the package is the address table which is represented by one or more XML files. Typically an address table names registers as in the following example:

  <node id="REG" address="0x0001" permission="rw">
    <node id="REG_TOP" mask="0xffff0000"/>
    <node id="REG_BOT" mask="0x0000ffff"/>
  <node id="RESETS" address="0x0002" permission="w">
    <node id="RST_ALL" mask="1"/>
    <node id="RST_LINKS" mask="2"/>

A bit of sample code taken from the tutorial illustrates the key points:

ConnectionManager manager("file://path/to/connections.xml");
HwInterface hw = manager.getDevice("dummy.udp.0");

//write 1 in the address 0x0001
hw.getNode ("REG").write(1);

//read back
ValWord< uint32_t > reg = hw.getNode ("REG").read();

//send the IPbus transactions

std::cout << "REG = " << reg.value() << std::endl;

This code illustrates the typical use case, where one performs reads/writes on entire 32-bit registers using names from the address table. In addition, the address table can contain a mask, which can be used to read or write subsets of bits from a register. However one must be careful, as the protocol only supports full 32-bit reads and writes. Writing a masked value actually causes a read/modify/write which may not be what is desired.

Often we find that we want to do other things which are not trivially supported by uHAL, such as:

  • Read/write to numeric addresses
  • Read/write to an offset within a named region
  • Write a fixed set of bits to a register with no read

All these things can be accomplished, but require some cleverness. To access the numeric address of a register, one can use the following code snippet:

 addr = hw.getNode( "rx_buffer").getAddress();

To access an offset from a named register, one must resort to some slightly more intricate code:

  val = hw.getClient().read( hw.getNode("rx_buffer").getAddress() + offset);

To write a single bit to e.g. a reset register as shown in the address table above, one can use the following:

  mask = hw.getNode( "RST_ALL"). getMask();
  hw.getClient().write( hw.getNode("RST_ALL").getAddress(), mask);
Last modified 17 months ago Last modified on Jul 3, 2019, 11:28:28 AM