Writing Device Drivers

Vectored I/O

In character drivers, transfers are described by a uio(9S) structure. The uio(9S) structure contains information about the direction and size of the transfer, plus an array of buffers for one end of the transfer (the other end is the device). The following section lists uio(9S) structure members that are important to character drivers.

uio Structure

The uio(9S) structure contains the following members:

	   iovec_t		*uio_iov;				/* base address of the iovec */
 												/* buffer description array */
 	int			uio_iovcnt;				/* the number of iovec structures */
 	off_t			uio_offset;				/* offset into device where data */
 												/* is transferred from or to */
 	offset_t 	uio_loffset				/* 64-bit offset into file where */
 												/* data is transferred from or to */
 	int			uio_resid;				/* amount (in bytes) not */
 												/* transferred on completion */

A uio(9S) structure is passed to the driver read(9E) and write(9E) entry points. This structure is generalized to support what is called gather-write and scatter-read. When writing to a device, the data buffers to be written do not have to be contiguous in application memory. Similarly, when reading from a device into memory, the data comes off the device in a contiguous stream but can go into noncontiguous areas of application memory. See readv(2), writev(2), pread(2), and pwrite(2) for more information on scatter-gather I/O.

Each buffer is described by an iovec(9S) structure. This structure contains a pointer to the data area and the number of bytes to be transferred.

	caddr_t			iov_base;		/* address of buffer */
 	int			iov_len;			/* amount to transfer */

The uio structure contains a pointer to an array of iovec(9S) structures. The base address of this array is held in uio_iov, and the number of elements is stored in uio_iovcnt.

The uio_offset field contains the 32-bit offset into the device at which the application needs to begin the transfer. uio_loffset is used for 64-bit file offsets. If the device does not support the notion of an offset these fields can be safely ignored. The driver should interpret either uio_offset or uio_loffset (but not both). If the driver has set the D_64BIT flag in the cb_ops(9S) structure, it should use uio_loffset.

The uio_resid field starts out as the number of bytes to be transferred (the sum of all the iov_len fields in uio_iov) and must be set by the driver to the number of bytes not transferred before returning. The read(2) and write(2) system calls use the return value from the read(9E) and write(9E) entry points to determine if the transfer failed (and then return -1). If the return value indicates success, the system calls return the number of bytes requested minus uio_resid. If uio_resid is not changed by the driver, the read(2) and write(2) calls will return 0 (indicating end-of-file), even though all the data was transferred.

The support routines uiomove(9F), physio(9F) and aphysio(9F) update the uio(9S) structure directly, updating the device offset to account for the data transfer. When used with a seekable device, for which the concept of position is relevant, the driver does not need to adjust either the uio_offset or uio_loffset fields. I/O performed to a device in this manner is constrained by the maximum possible value of uio_offset or uio_loffset. An example of such a usage is raw I/O on a disk.

When performing I/O on a device on which the concept of position has no relevance, the driver may save uio_offset or uio_loffset, perform the I/O operation, then restore uio_offset or uio_loffset to the field's initial value. I/O performed to a device in this manner is not constrained by the maximum possible value of uio_offset or uio_loffset. An example of such a usage is I/O on a serial line.

The following example shows one way to preserve uio_loffset in the read(9E) function.

static int
xxread(dev_t dev, struct uio *uio_p, cred_t *cred_p)
 	offset_t off;

 	off = uio_p->uio_loffset;  /* save the offset */
		/* do the transfer */
		uio_p->uio_loffset = off;  /* restore it */