MIPI DSI, DBI, and tinydrm drivers

Paul Cercueil paul at crapouillou.net
Mon May 25 01:46:47 UTC 2020

Hi Sam,

Le dim. 24 mai 2020 à 22:06, Sam Ravnborg <sam at ravnborg.org> a écrit :
> Hi Paul.
> On Sun, May 24, 2020 at 06:13:16PM +0200, Paul Cercueil wrote:
>>  Hi list,
>>  I'd like to open a discussion about the current support of MIPI DSI 
>> and DBI
>>  panels.
>>  Both are standards from the MIPI alliance, both are communication 
>> protocols
>>  between a LCD controller and a LCD panel, they generally both use 
>> the same
>>  commands (DCS), the main difference is that DSI is serial and DBI is
>>  generally parallel.
>>  In the kernel right now, DSI is pretty well implemented. All the
>>  infrastucture to register a DSI host, DSI device etc. is there. DSI 
>> panels
>>  are implemented as regular drm_panel instances, and their drivers 
>> go through
>>  the DSI API to communicate with the panel, which makes them 
>> independent of
>>  the DSI host driver.
>>  DBI, on the other hand, does not have any of this. All (?) DBI 
>> panels are
>>  implemented as tinydrm drivers, which make them impossible to use 
>> with
>>  regular DRM drivers. Writing a standard drm_panel driver is 
>> impossible, as
>>  there is no concept of host and device. All these tinydrm drivers 
>> register
>>  their own DBI host as they all do DBI over SPI.
>>  I think this needs a good cleanup. Given that DSI and DBI are so 
>> similar, it
>>  would probably make sense to fuse DBI support into the current DSI 
>> code, as
>>  trying to update DBI would result in a lot of code being 
>> duplicated. With
>>  the proper host/device registration mechanism from DSI code, it 
>> would be
>>  possible to turn most of the tinydrm drivers into regular drm_panel 
>> drivers.
> We could add proper support for a DBI bus, like we have today for DSI.
> This seems like the simple approach as we then have a DSI and a DBI 
> bus.
> But many panels implement support for both DSI and DBI and then what 
> to
> do then? We could register a driver based on the configuration like we
> do in some drivers already. But this would push logic to the dirvers
> which we would like to keep simple.
> We could also try to extend the current DSI bus support to cover
> DBI too - but thats seems also to be not so elegant.

My controller supports 8/16/18-bit commands, 8/16/18-bit data, serial 
or parallel. There is nothing DBI-specific in that, but there is 
nothing DSI-specific either; it is more of a bus controller, on which 
the DSI and DBI protocols can be used. I think the way to go would be 
to separate the buses from the protocols. Ideally, I would have a bus 
driver, with "mipi-dsi" and "mipi-dbi-8080" flags in devicetree, and 
the core's DSI/DBI code would work on top of the bus API.

> I atually started on the framework bits for implementing a DBI bus
> but got sidetracked so did not get far.
> And back then I also was concerned if we should go for a dedicated
> DBI bus or we should do something else.
> I have attached two WIP patches from when I looked at it.
> The binding needs extra work and the code may not even build...

The code looks pretty much like what I was experimenting with before 
sending the email. But I think we can do better.

The binding specifies the 'mipi-dbi-type' while in practice the same 
hardware may be able to support several types, and specifies a bunch of 
GPIOs which wouldn't apply in my case (since they are handled by the 

>>  The problem then is that these should still be available as tinydrm 
>> drivers.
>>  If the DSI/DBI panels can somehow register a .update_fb() callback, 
>> it would
>>  make it possible to have a panel-agnostic tinydrm driver, which 
>> would then
>>  probably open a lot of doors, and help a lot to clean the mess.
> We should find a clean solution for new drivers and then we can see 
> what
> to do for the existing drivers.



> We only have a few existing tiny drivers for now - and knowing the
> amount of panel candidates that exist we have to make it simple to
> add support for new panels, both DBI, DSI and DPI variants.
> And if we could then find a way to allow the user to specify the init
> sequence without modifying the kernel then we could make it much
> simpler again. Noralf have a solution for this in staging but I think
> we need something else in DRM.
> I have had in mind if we could ut something in initrd or some sort but
> that is down on the TODO list to look at.
> 	Sam

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