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Re: Intel chipsets and prefetch during PCI target read



Hello William,

A PCI slave device is mapped to uncached memory, and with IA32 CPUs reads 
to uncached memory are blocking, that is, a read can't emerge from the CPU 
until a previous read completes.  Consequently the largest burst is limited 
to the largest single read, which is the 64 bit MOVQ r64, mem instruction 
for a two beat burst.  You can improve read throughput over that of 32 bit 
reads by using this instruction in a tight loop, but of course this still 
won't approach performance that can be realized with our PCI master chips.

Carter Buck
Technical Applications Engineer
PLX Technology, Inc.

At 11:53 AM 8/23/00 -0700, William F Hong wrote:
>Hello,
>
>The system we are developing contains a homegrown, target only, PCI ADC
>card which uses a PLX Technologies 9050 PCI interface chip.  Our
>application requires that the contents of the ADC sample memories be read
>rapidly to system memory.  Using a bus analyzer I have observed that our Intel
>440BX Host/PCI bridge generates a single PCI Memory Read transaction
>for each 32-bit Dword that the Pentium requests even though the reads are
>to consecutive ADC memory locations.  Isn't the 440BX capable of doing any
>prefetching, i.e. generating a PCI burst read in anticipation?  I know 
>that our
>PCI target can support burst reads because I have used the bus analyzer as
>a master and performed the same transfer.  After reading
>related posts in the PCI Reflector Archive I find two different answers.
>Some say that north bridges can do prefeching from capable PCI targets (target
>contains prefechable and cacheable memory) others say that north bridges are
>incapable of generating burst reads from PCI.  An Intel Customer Support 
>person
>on the Intel Chipset Forum indicates that none of their chipsets have this
>capability.  I would like to resolve these contradictions before I tell 
>our hardware
>designers that we can only achieve the desired PCI to Host throughtput by
>redesigning their boards with PCI master capability.  So assuming that the ADC
>cannot be redesigned...
>
>1)  Can the time between reads by the processor affect the Intel 440BX's 
>ability
>       to do a prefetch, i.e. is my Windows NT driver too slow?
>2)  If the Intel 440BX chipset cannot prefetch PCI data are there any 
>other bridges
>      (Intel or other) for Pentium systems which can?
>3)  Does anyone know of another mechanism to transfer data from a PCI 
>target to
>      system memory which takes advantage of PCI burst cycles?
>4)  I understand that target memory prefechable is set in the base address 
>register
>      of the PCI target's configuration space only  if the target memory 
> prefech has no
>      side effects.  But what does it mean in this context to be cacheable?
>
>Thanks in advance.
>William Hong
>Software Engineering
>Raytheon Missile Systems