Timer queue

The timer queue functionality lets the user schedule tasks to run at some time in the future. Unsurprisingly, this feature is also implemented using a queue: a priority queue where the scheduled tasks are kept sorted by earliest scheduled time. This feature requires a timer capable of setting up timeout interrupts. The timer is used to trigger an interrupt when the scheduled time of a task is up; at that point the task is removed from the timer queue and moved into the appropriate ready queue.

Let's see how this in implemented in code. Consider the following program:


# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
#[rtfm::app(device = ..)]
const APP: () = {
    // ..

    #[task(capacity = 2, schedule = [foo])]
    fn foo(c: foo::Context, x: u32) {
        // schedule this task to run again in 1M cycles
        c.schedule.foo(c.scheduled + Duration::cycles(1_000_000), x + 1).ok();
    }

    extern "C" {
        fn UART0();
    }
};
#}

schedule

Let's first look at the schedule API.


# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
mod foo {
    pub struct Schedule<'a> {
        priority: &'a Cell<u8>,
    }

    impl<'a> Schedule<'a> {
        // unsafe and hidden because we don't want the user to tamper with this
        #[doc(hidden)]
        pub unsafe fn priority(&self) -> &Cell<u8> {
            self.priority
        }
    }
}

const APP: () = {
    type Instant = <path::to::user::monotonic::timer as rtfm::Monotonic>::Instant;

    // all tasks that can be `schedule`-d
    enum T {
        foo,
    }

    struct NotReady {
        index: u8,
        instant: Instant,
        task: T,
    }

    // The timer queue is a binary (min) heap of `NotReady` tasks
    static mut TQ: TimerQueue<U2> = ..;
    const TQ_CEILING: u8 = 1;

    static mut foo_FQ: Queue<u8, U2> = Queue::new();
    const foo_FQ_CEILING: u8 = 1;

    static mut foo_INPUTS: [MaybeUninit<u32>; 2] =
        [MaybeUninit::uninit(), MaybeUninit::uninit()];

    static mut foo_INSTANTS: [MaybeUninit<Instant>; 2] =
        [MaybeUninit::uninit(), MaybeUninit::uninit()];

    impl<'a> foo::Schedule<'a> {
        fn foo(&self, instant: Instant, input: u32) -> Result<(), u32> {
            unsafe {
                let priority = self.priority();
                if let Some(index) = lock(priority, foo_FQ_CEILING, || {
                    foo_FQ.split().1.dequeue()
                }) {
                    // `index` is an owning pointer into these buffers
                    foo_INSTANTS[index as usize].write(instant);
                    foo_INPUTS[index as usize].write(input);

                    let nr = NotReady {
                        index,
                        instant,
                        task: T::foo,
                    };

                    lock(priority, TQ_CEILING, || {
                        TQ.enqueue_unchecked(nr);
                    });
                } else {
                    // No space left to store the input / instant
                    Err(input)
                }
            }
        }
    }
};
#}

This looks very similar to the Spawn implementation. In fact, the same INPUTS buffer and free queue (FQ) are shared between the spawn and schedule APIs. The main difference between the two is that schedule also stores the Instant at which the task was scheduled to run in a separate buffer (foo_INSTANTS in this case).

TimerQueue::enqueue_unchecked does a bit more work that just adding the entry into a min-heap: it also pends the system timer interrupt (SysTick) if the new entry ended up first in the queue.

The system timer

The system timer interrupt (SysTick) takes cares of two things: moving tasks that have become ready from the timer queue into the right ready queue and setting up a timeout interrupt to fire when the scheduled time of the next task is up.

Let's see the associated code.


# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
const APP: () = {
    #[no_mangle]
    fn SysTick() {
        const PRIORITY: u8 = 1;

        let priority = &Cell::new(PRIORITY);
        while let Some(ready) = lock(priority, TQ_CEILING, || TQ.dequeue()) {
            match ready.task {
                T::foo => {
                    // move this task into the `RQ1` ready queue
                    lock(priority, RQ1_CEILING, || {
                        RQ1.split().0.enqueue_unchecked(Ready {
                           task: T1::foo,
                           index: ready.index,
                        })
                    });

                    // pend the task dispatcher
                    rtfm::pend(Interrupt::UART0);
                }
            }
        }
    }
};
#}

This looks similar to a task dispatcher except that instead of running the ready task this only places the task in the corresponding ready queue, that way it will run at the right priority.

TimerQueue::dequeue will set up a new timeout interrupt when it returns None. This ties in with TimerQueue::enqueue_unchecked, which pends this handler; basically, enqueue_unchecked delegates the task of setting up a new timeout interrupt to the SysTick handler.

Resolution and range of cyccnt::Instant and cyccnt::Duration

RTFM provides a Monotonic implementation based on the DWT's (Data Watchpoint and Trace) cycle counter. Instant::now returns a snapshot of this timer; these DWT snapshots (Instants) are used to sort entries in the timer queue. The cycle counter is a 32-bit counter clocked at the core clock frequency. This counter wraps around every (1 << 32) clock cycles; there's no interrupt associated to this counter so nothing worth noting happens when it wraps around.

To order Instants in the queue we need to compare two 32-bit integers. To account for the wrap-around behavior we use the difference between two Instants, a - b, and treat the result as a 32-bit signed integer. If the result is less than zero then b is a later Instant; if the result is greater than zero then b is an earlier Instant. This means that scheduling a task at an Instant that's (1 << 31) - 1 cycles greater than the scheduled time (Instant) of the first (earliest) entry in the queue will cause the task to be inserted at the wrong place in the queue. There some debug assertions in place to prevent this user error but it can't be avoided because the user can write (instant + duration_a) + duration_b and overflow the Instant.

The system timer, SysTick, is a 24-bit counter also clocked at the core clock frequency. When the next scheduled task is more than 1 << 24 clock cycles in the future an interrupt is set to go off in 1 << 24 cycles. This process may need to happen several times until the next scheduled task is within the range of the SysTick counter.

In conclusion, both Instant and Duration have a resolution of 1 core clock cycle and Duration effectively has a (half-open) range of 0..(1 << 31) (end not included) core clock cycles.

Queue capacity

The capacity of the timer queue is chosen to be the sum of the capacities of all schedule-able tasks. Like in the case of the ready queues, this means that once we have claimed a free slot in the INPUTS buffer we are guaranteed to be able to insert the task in the timer queue; this lets us omit runtime checks.

System timer priority

The priority of the system timer can't set by the user; it is chosen by the framework. To ensure that lower priority tasks don't prevent higher priority tasks from running we choose the priority of the system timer to be the maximum of all the schedule-able tasks.

To see why this is required consider the case where two previously scheduled tasks with priorities 2 and 3 become ready at about the same time but the lower priority task is moved into the ready queue first. If the system timer priority was, for example, 1 then after moving the lower priority (2) task it would run to completion (due to it being higher priority than the system timer) delaying the execution of the higher priority (3) task. To prevent scenarios like these the system timer must match the highest priority of the schedule-able tasks; in this example that would be 3.

Ceiling analysis

The timer queue is a resource shared between all the tasks that can schedule a task and the SysTick handler. Also the schedule API contends with the spawn API over the free queues. All this must be considered in the ceiling analysis.

To illustrate, consider the following example:


# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
#[rtfm::app(device = ..)]
const APP: () = {
    #[task(priority = 3, spawn = [baz])]
    fn foo(c: foo::Context) {
        // ..
    }

    #[task(priority = 2, schedule = [foo, baz])]
    fn bar(c: bar::Context) {
        // ..
    }

    #[task(priority = 1)]
    fn baz(c: baz::Context) {
        // ..
    }
};
#}

The ceiling analysis would go like this:

  • foo (prio = 3) and baz (prio = 1) are schedule-able task so the SysTick must run at the highest priority between these two, that is 3.

  • foo::Spawn (prio = 3) and bar::Schedule (prio = 2) contend over the consumer endpoind of baz_FQ; this leads to a priority ceiling of 3.

  • bar::Schedule (prio = 2) has exclusive access over the consumer endpoint of foo_FQ; thus the priority ceiling of foo_FQ is effectively 2.

  • SysTick (prio = 3) and bar::Schedule (prio = 2) contend over the timer queue TQ; this leads to a priority ceiling of 3.

  • SysTick (prio = 3) and foo::Spawn (prio = 3) both have lock-free access to the ready queue RQ3, which holds foo entries; thus the priority ceiling of RQ3 is effectively 3.

  • The SysTick has exclusive access to the ready queue RQ1, which holds baz entries; thus the priority ceiling of RQ1 is effectively 3.

Changes in the spawn implementation

When the schedule API is used the spawn implementation changes a bit to track the baseline of tasks. As you saw in the schedule implementation there's an INSTANTS buffers used to store the time at which a task was scheduled to run; this Instant is read in the task dispatcher and passed to the user code as part of the task context.


# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
const APP: () = {
    // ..

    #[no_mangle]
    unsafe UART1() {
        const PRIORITY: u8 = 1;

        let snapshot = basepri::read();

        while let Some(ready) = RQ1.split().1.dequeue() {
            match ready.task {
                Task::baz => {
                    let input = baz_INPUTS[ready.index as usize].read();
                    // ADDED
                    let instant = baz_INSTANTS[ready.index as usize].read();

                    baz_FQ.split().0.enqueue_unchecked(ready.index);

                    let priority = Cell::new(PRIORITY);
                    // CHANGED the instant is passed as part the task context
                    baz(baz::Context::new(&priority, instant), input)
                }

                Task::bar => {
                    // looks just like the `baz` branch
                }

            }
        }

        // BASEPRI invariant
        basepri::write(snapshot);
    }
};
#}

Conversely, the spawn implementation needs to write a value to the INSTANTS buffer. The value to be written is stored in the Spawn struct and its either the start time of the hardware task or the scheduled time of the software task.


# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
mod foo {
    // ..

    pub struct Spawn<'a> {
        priority: &'a Cell<u8>,
        // ADDED
        instant: Instant,
    }

    impl<'a> Spawn<'a> {
        pub unsafe fn priority(&self) -> &Cell<u8> {
            &self.priority
        }

        // ADDED
        pub unsafe fn instant(&self) -> Instant {
            self.instant
        }
    }
}

const APP: () = {
    impl<'a> foo::Spawn<'a> {
        /// Spawns the `baz` task
        pub fn baz(&self, message: u64) -> Result<(), u64> {
            unsafe {
                match lock(self.priority(), baz_FQ_CEILING, || {
                    baz_FQ.split().1.dequeue()
                }) {
                    Some(index) => {
                        baz_INPUTS[index as usize].write(message);
                        // ADDED
                        baz_INSTANTS[index as usize].write(self.instant());

                        lock(self.priority(), RQ1_CEILING, || {
                            RQ1.split().1.enqueue_unchecked(Ready {
                                task: Task::foo,
                                index,
                            });
                        });

                        rtfm::pend(Interrupt::UART0);
                    }

                    None => {
                        // maximum capacity reached; spawn failed
                        Err(message)
                    }
                }
            }
        }
    }
};
#}