NELK Power Management

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Naon am387x-dm814x.png Applies to Naon
Maya 03.png Applies to Maya
Dido-main.png Applies to Dido


In this article we'll see how Power Management is implemented in NELK, which option is available to the user and which result, related to power consumption, can be reached.

Power Management (PM) can be divided in two major sections:

  1. PM in suspend mode (also called suspend to RAM): in this mode the CPU is halted, most of it's internal clock are gated, DDR memories are put in self-refresh state and Naon can wake up only when a peripheral from a selected set (usually internal timer, GPIO or UART) is activated.
  2. PM in running mode: in this mode most of the SOM is working, only a few clocks are gated and the others are slowed to reduce power consumption. There are different levels of clock/power supply settings that the user can select to comply with the application requirements.

Runtime Power Management Support

Runtime power management support allows the userspace application to choose the more appropriate level of performance/power consumption according to what the application needs to do.

This PM can be divided in two sections:

  1. ARM Cortex-A8 PM
  2. DSP, HDVICP2 and CORE (which put together HDVPSS, dual Cortex M3 and L3 bus) PM

The main difference between the two is that the Linux kernel knows how much the A8 is loaded at a given time (due to the fact that the kernel schedules its processes). Having a configurable CPU governor is a standard feature of Linux kernel, that can be found on PCs and laptops. The Kernel changes A8 frequency/voltage in accordance with user settings.

All other subsystems (DSP, HDVICP2 and CORE) are not managed directly by the kernel (e.g. dual M3 run their own independent RTOS), for this reason it cannot choose the optimal working set from a PM point of view. Choosing the correct OPP (Operating Performance Points) is userspace application's responsibility to obtain the desired result (eg. Full-HD H264 encoding vs 720p H264 decoding).

This is even more true when considering video management applications: in these applications runtime frequency scaling is critical because computational load is dependent on data stream and can change very quickly. What is usually done in this situation is to use a sub-optimal configuration that can handle the worst input stream without loosing frames and without wasting too much power. For this reason A8 can also be configured statically with OPP thus disabling standard Linux governor support.

CPU Governor Usage

CPU governor is a standard feature of recent Linux Kernels. The kernel itself selects the best working point depending on CPU load. User can select between various predefined governors or choose the working frequency himself. In the latter configuration the kernel will only select the best allowed OPP from the frequency chosen by the user. Please note that this allows the Cortex-A8 to be treated like the rest of the PM subsystem (DSP, CORE, HDVICP2) thus allowing direct OPP setup (see next section).

Pre-configured governors are the ones listed in the following table:

Governor Brief description
powersave configure the lowest CPU frequency
performance configure the highest CPU frequency
ondemand set the CPU frequency depending on current usage, fast change between slowest and highest frequencies
conservative much like ondemand but change CPU frequency more gracefully
userspace allow root processes to configure CPU frequency. No changes are done automatically

User can change the current governor with sysfs, e.g.:

root@naon:~# echo powersave > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor
[  402.660000] cpufreq-omap: frequency transition: 600000 --> 200000
[  402.660000] cpufreq-omap: voltage transition: 1200000 --> 1000000
root@naon:~# echo performance > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor
[  678.540000] cpufreq-omap: frequency transition: 200000 --> 1000000
[  678.540000] cpufreq-omap: voltage transition: 1000000 --> 1350000

Default governor behavior can be changed by configuring the other sysfs entries inside /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq. For more information regarding standard Linux governor see the file Documentation/cpu-freq/governors.txt inside Linux kernel source tree.

OPP configuration

As stated, automatic configuration by measuring system load, cannot be performed for some elements or is not useful in many situations (eg. realtime video stream processing).

A suggested approach is to choose a set-point for each subsystem that has enough processing power to do the required work (eg. without loosing video frames) while minimizing the power consumption.

The situation is even harder to manage because of internal system constraint: changing the frequency for a subsystem requires changing its power supply (as a rule of thumb, higher power supply is required to have a stable higher frequency). There are some other restrictions that do not allow the user to select arbitrary settings on different subsystems (which would lead to system instability).

For its Naon platform, DAVE Embeddded Systems provides a custom PM driver that allows for selection, at runtime, of an OPP for each subsystem (Cortex A8, CORE, DSP, HDVICP) providing a default stable voltage/frequency setting. Some OPPs are directly derived from the ones officially supported by TI (see DM814x TRM at DVFS section, for example) and some other custom OPPs are provided by DAVE Embeddded Systems.

OPP Brief Description Known Restrictions
OPP0 minimum power consumption without standby Video subsystem is disabled (both VOUTx and VINx)
OPP50 mimimum power consumption with static video output (HDMI 1080P) only static (FB-based) output is allowed, VIN disabled
OPP100 base performance with video working, A8@600MHz video processing subsystem performance are limited
OPP120 medium performance, A8@720MHz not allowed on base Naon module
OPP166 high performance, A8@1GHz, DSP@700MHz top CPU/video performance, requires Naon module DAxxxxx (TDB)
OPP166x top performance, A8@1GHz, DSP@700MHz maximum video processing performance, requires Naon module DAxxxxx (TDB)

200px-Emblem-important.svg.png As described on the table above, not all OPPs can be used with video output enabled. In fact OPP0 does not have enough processing power on HDVPSS to display static images on HDMI (VOUT1) @1080p60. For streaming video processing (eg. H264 decoding) an OPP100 or higher is required. 200px-Emblem-important.svg.png

Info-icon.png Please note that A8 settings can be overloaded by Linux Kernel governor (see previous section). Choose userspace governor to configure A8 performance with static OPP. Info-icon.png

OPP settings can be changed globally (in other words: the same OPP for each subsystem) or individually (a different OPP for each subsystem).

OPP setup can be performed via sysfs interface. For example to globally configure OPP50, enter the following command at Naon console

root@naon:~# echo -n OPP50 > /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/opp
[ 1640.460000] naon_power naon_power: entering OPP50 for domain ARM
[ 1640.460000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP50] slowing down clock arm_dpll_ck from 600000000 to 200000000
[ 1640.470000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP50] setting power for ARM to 1050 [mV]
[ 1640.480000] naon_power naon_power: entering OPP50 for domain CORE
[ 1640.490000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP50] slowing down clock iss_dpll_ck from 400000000 to 200000000
[ 1640.500000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP50] slowing down clock l3_dpll_ck from 200000000 to 50000000
[ 1640.510000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP50] setting power for CORE to 1050 [mV]
[ 1640.530000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP50] speed-up clock hdvpss_dpll_ck from 20000000 to 150000000
[ 1640.540000] naon_power naon_power: entering OPP50 for domain DSP
[ 1640.540000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP50] slowing down clock dsp_dpll_ck from 500000000 to 100000000
[ 1640.560000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP50] setting power for DSP to 1050 [mV]
[ 1640.590000] naon_power naon_power: entering OPP50 for domain HDVICP
[ 1640.590000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP50] slowing down clock hdvicp_dpll_ck from 266000000 to 50000000
[ 1640.610000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP50] setting power for HDVICP to 1050 [mV]

The user can select a different OPP for each subsystem using the same sysfs entry, but by specifying the OPPs separated by commas. Eg. for an application that does not require DSP and hardware encoder/decoder, the user can choose:

  • OPP120 for ARM Cortex-A8
  • OPP120 for CORE (HDVPSS and M3)
  • OPP0 for DSP
  • OPP0 for HDVICP2

By entering:

root@naon:~# echo -n OPP120,OPP120,OPP0,OPP0 > /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/opp
[ 2183.050000] naon_power naon_power: entering OPP120 for domain ARM
[ 2183.060000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP120] setting power for ARM to 1200 [mV]
[ 2183.070000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP120] speed-up clock arm_dpll_ck from 200000000 to 720000000
[ 2183.080000] naon_power naon_power: entering OPP120 for domain CORE
[ 2183.090000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP120] setting power for CORE to 1200 [mV]
[ 2183.100000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP120] speed-up clock iss_dpll_ck from 200000000 to 400000000
[ 2183.110000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP120] speed-up clock hdvpss_dpll_ck from 150000000 to 200000000
[ 2183.120000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP120] speed-up clock l3_dpll_ck from 50000000 to 220000000
[ 2183.130000] naon_power naon_power: entering OPP0 for domain DSP
[ 2183.140000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP0] slowing down clock dsp_dpll_ck from 100000000 to 10000000
[ 2183.150000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP0] setting power for DSP to 1050 [mV]
[ 2183.150000] naon_power naon_power: entering OPP0 for domain HDVICP
[ 2183.160000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP0] slowing down clock hdvicp_dpll_ck from 50000000 to 10000000
[ 2183.170000] naon_power naon_power: [OPP0] setting power for HDVICP to 1050 [mV]

The user can also see the currently configured OPPs by looking inside the same sysfs entry:

root@naon:~# cat /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/opp

200px-Emblem-important.svg.png User can change OPP setting at runtime without putting the machine or it's application in any special mode. However, change CORE frequency, which involves HDVPSS and thus video output (VOUTx) encoders, may lead to display flickering. 200px-Emblem-important.svg.png

Manually choosing working frequencies

To have a more in-depth control over power management and performance, PM driver allows the user to specify the frequency for each configurable clock known by the Linux Kernel.

Warning-icon.png Please note that changing frequency will also require a power supply change, to have a stable system. Changing power supply is a critical issue for the module and may damage it permanently. For this reason PM driver allows the user to customize only the frequency and not power supply, which is automatically adjusted by choosing the appropriate OPP Warning-icon.png

Naon PM driver can manage a list of clocks and configure, for each of them:

  • the running frequency
  • the standby frequency

We will look only at the former, while the latter will be detailed in the Standby section of this article.

First of all, the user should find the correct clock name, eg. by looking inside /sys/kernel/debug/clock (DEBUGFS must be enabled and mounted). We will suppose that the user wants to configure HDVPSS (and thus M3) frequency, which is derived from iss_dpll_ck PLL (only PLL are configurable, of course).

Now the user has to add the chosen clock to the list managed by Naon PM driver:

echo -n +iss_dpll_ck >  /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/clk_list

Please note the usage of -n (to skip the new line usage of echo command) and the + added to the clock name.

Clock removal from list can be done by changing + with -, eg.

root@naon:~/pm# echo -n -iss_dpll_ck >  /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/clk_list
[ 1295.590000] naon_power naon_power: iss_dpll_ck removed

Before using the clock, it must be selected from the list

root@naon:~/pm# echo -n iss_dpll_ck >  /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/selected_clk
[ 1060.570000] naon_power naon_power: iss_dpll_ck finded

User can now read the current frequency value:

root@naon:~/pm# cat /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/selected_clk
root@naon:~/pm# cat /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/rate

Setting the frequency is just a matter of writing its value, in Hz, into the same sysfs entry:

root@naon:~/pm# echo -n 300000000 > /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/rate
[ 1389.570000] naon_power naon_power: setting rate to 300000000

Standby Support

Entering standby means putting the module into a sleep state, where the power consumption is minimal and also no processing is allowed. All processes are halted, ARM Cortex A8 goes into a specific mode called WFI (Wait For Interrupt) and DDR2 RAM goes into self-refresh mode (the lowest power consumption mode without wasting memory contents).

An introduction to Standby support on DM814x SOC can be found on TI wiki too.

Standby mode can be activated by any userspace application, while wakeup is triggered only from:

  • internal timer (which, of course, should be enabled and configured before entering standby)
  • an interrupt source (eg. GPIO or UART). Please note that having an interrupt source enabled means that its clocks cannot be disabled when entering standby mode.

By default timer and UART (Linux serial console) wakeup are enabled.

Info-icon.png To allow UART wakeup from Linux console, the user should add no_console_suspend parameter to kernel command line. See Change Linux Command Line Parameter from U-boot for more information on how to do this. Info-icon.png

Due to system complexity and user application dependency, standby mode requires a bit of configuration for optimal performance. The user can (and should) set the standby configuration for various clocks, depending on its application. However DAVE Embeddded Systems provides a default clock configuration and system setup that usually is both functional and best performing for common based platform. Clocks are managed by the same Naon PM driver described on the previous sections.

From the user point of view, entering standby is a matter of:

  1. configuring suspend/standby clocks (by slowing their frequencies and/or gating them completely)
  2. configure wakeup sources
  3. enter standby

The first step is the most complex one, but is required to obtain the best performances in relation to power consumption. DAVE Embeddded Systems provides a script that correctly configures most of the unused clocks and gives the best power result, without too much impact on suspend/wakeup performance (in terms of suspend/wakeup latency).

Here is the bash script provided with NELK:

        echo configuring $1 to $2 MHz
        echo -n  +$1 >  /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/clk_list
        echo -n  $1 >  /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/selected_clk
        echo -n $(expr $2 \* 1000 \* 1000)  > /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/rate

        echo configuring $1 to $2 MHz
        echo -n  +$1 >  /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/clk_list
        echo -n  $1 >  /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/selected_clk
        echo -n $(expr $2 \* 1000 \* 1000)  > /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/suspend_rate

        echo gating $1 on suspend
        echo -n  +$1 >  /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/clk_list
        echo -n  $1 >  /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/selected_clk
        echo -n 0  > /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/suspend_rate

gate_clock_on_suspend iss_dpll_ck
gate_clock_on_suspend hdvicp_dpll_ck
gate_clock_on_suspend dsp_dpll_ck

setup_pll hdvpss_dpll_ck 20
gate_clock_on_suspend hdvpss_dpll_ck
gate_clock_on_suspend sgx_dpll_ck
gate_clock_on_suspend audio_dpll_ck
gate_clock_on_suspend uart6_fck
gate_clock_on_suspend uart5_fck
gate_clock_on_suspend uart4_fck
gate_clock_on_suspend uart3_fck
gate_clock_on_suspend uart2_fck
#gate_clock_on_suspend uart1_fck

See the following table to understand what is done on each subsystem:

Clock Affected subsystem Standby State
iss_dpll_ck M3 gated
hdvicp_dpll_ck HDVICP2 gated
dsp_dpll_ck DSP gated
hdvpss_dpll_ck HDVPSS gated
sgx_dpll_ck SGX gated
audio_dpll_ck audio (McASP, McBSP..) gated
uart[2..6]_fck UART [2..6] gated

Configuring wakeup sources is a matter of choosing which IRQ are left unmasked when entering standby and enabling/configuring wakeup timer. We will only consider the latter, because the former is highly driver dependent.

Wakeup timer is described in details in the TI wiki. In brief, the user should enter the timeout (in seconds and/or milliseconds) via sysfs. Eg. to wakeup after 2.5 seconds standby mode is entered, the following command can be used:

root@naon:~# echo 2 > /sys/kernel/debug/pm_debug/wakeup_timer_seconds
root@naon:~# echo 500 > /sys/kernel/debug/pm_debug/wakeup_timer_milliseconds

Info-icon.png Please note that the above commands require debugfs enabled and mounted (eg. mount -t debugfs debugfs /sys/kernel/debug) Info-icon.png

After all the above stuff has been setup, user can go into standby by running the following command

root@naon:~# echo mem > /sys/power/state

If wakeup timer has been configured, amongst the other messages, the user will see something like the following:

root@naon:~# echo 2 > /sys/kernel/debug/pm_debug/wakeup_timer_seconds
root@naon:~# echo 500 > /sys/kernel/debug/pm_debug/wakeup_timer_milliseconds
root@naon:~# echo mem > /sys/power/state
[  322.670000] PM: Resume timer in 2.500 secs (50000000 ticks at 20000000 ticks/sec.)

From the kernel point of view entering stand-by means:

  • syncing filesystems and freezing processes
  • call suspend() function of each registered device driver (eg. suspend() function of USB driver will put usb phy in suspend too)
  • saving current OPP and entering OPP0 (see above)
  • reconfigure and/or gate the user defined clocks
  • (if needed) configure wakeup timer
  • (if needed) mask all interrupts except for the peripherals used for wakeup
  • put DDR in self refresh
  • put Cortex A8 in WFI

When an interrupt is issued or when wakeup timer elapses:

  • Cortex A8 goes out of WFI
  • DDR RAM are put back in working mode
  • interrupt masks are restored
  • the previously saved OPP is restored
  • clocks are un-gated and/or restored
  • all processes are unfrozen

Evaluate Wakeup Latency

Wakeup latency, in other words the time required by a suspended system to be back in fully functional state, can be evaluated by:

  • configuring the wakeup timer to a given value
  • use time function to measure the running time of the echo mem > /sys/power/state command
  • the wakeup latency is the running time of echo mem command minus the wakeup timer configuration.

This is not very precise but gives an order of magnitude of the latency. Please note that the time for entering standby is also taken into account.

Here is a sample result:

root@naon:~# echo -n OPP100 > /sys/devices/platform/naon_power/opp
root@naon:~# echo 5 > /sys/kernel/debug/pm_debug/wakeup_timer_seconds
root@naon:~# echo 0 > /sys/kernel/debug/pm_debug/wakeup_timer_milliseconds
root@naon:~# time echo mem > /sys/power/state
real    0m 5.86s
user    0m 0.00s
sys     0m 0.03s

In the example the total running time of echo mem command was 5.86s, while wakeup timer was configured with a timeout of 5s. The total latency is 860 ms.

PM performance and power consumption summary

In the following table we summarize the power consumption of the whole module (3.3V power supply) in different situations.

OPP Overall Status MPU (A8) Processing Video Processing Shunt Voltage [mV] Current [mA] Power Consumption [mW]
StandBy suspend to RAM WFI Off 2.5 250 825
OPP0 CPU working (slowly) 0%-100% Off 4.9 490 1617
OPP50 CPU/Static video working 0% HDMI 1080p60, static 6.1 610 2013
OPP100 all subsystem working, A8@600MHz 0% 0% 7.6 760 2508
OPP120 all subsystem working, A8@720MHz 0% 0% 8.5 850 2805
OPP166 all subsystem working, A8@1GHz 0% 0% 10.4 1040 3432
OPP166x all subsystem working, A8@1GHz 0% 0% 10.7 1070 3531


  • in standby mode on module 10/100Mbit Ethernet Phy is kept in reset
  • 0% on both Processing columns means that the subsystem is turned on but without input
  • shunt voltage has been measured on R422 (10mOhm), in NaonEVB-Mid, which feeds Naon module 3.3V power supply


Measurements script

Measurements are performed accessing the INA226 device connected to the I2C bus. The following commands can be saved as a shell script (e.g. read_power_values) and run to collect the measurements data:

cd /sys/devices/platform/omap/omap_i2c.3/i2c-3/3-0041
echo "input voltage $(cat in1_input)V"
echo "shut voltage $(cat in0_input)mV"
echo "current sink $(cat curr1_input)mA"
echo "power consumption $(expr $(cat power1_input) / 1000) mW" 
root@dm814x-evm:~# ./read_power_values
input voltage 3289V
shut voltage 10mV
current sink 978mA
power consumption 3200 mW