Linux kernel support for Microcrystal RTCs

micro-crystalThanks to Microcrystal, a Switzerland-based real-time clock vendor, Free-Electrons has contributed support for a number of new I2C and SPI based real-time clocks to the Linux kernel over the last few months. More specifically, we added or improved support for the Microcrystal RV-1805, RV-4162, RV-3029 and RV-3049. In this blog post, we detail the contributions we have done to support those real-time clocks.

RV-1805

The RV-1805 RTC is similar to the Abracon 1805 one, for which a driver already existed in the Linux kernel. Therefore, the support for the RV-1805 RTC was added in the same driver, rtc-abx80x.c. The patch which adds the support of this RTC is already upstream since v4.5 (see Free-Electrons contributions to linux 4.5). In this kernel version, the support of the alarm has also been added. In the 4.6 kernel release, the support for two additional functionalities has been contributed: oscillator selection and handling of oscillator failure.

The oscillator selection functionality allows to select between the two oscillators available in this RTC:

  • The XT oscillator, a more stable, but also more power-hungy oscillator
  • The RC oscillator, a less accurate, but also more power-efficient oscillator

This patch adds the possibility to select which oscillator the RTC should use and also, a way to configure the auto-calibration (auto-calibration is a feature to calibrate the RC oscillator using the digital XT oscillator).

To select the oscillator, a sysfs entry has been added:

cat /sys/class/rtc/rtc0/device/oscillator

To configure and activate the autocalibration, another sysfs entry has been added:

cat /sys/class/rtc/rtc0/device/autocalibration

Here is an example of using RC oscillator and an autocalibration of 512 seconds cycle.

echo rc > /sys/class/rtc/rtc0/device/oscillator
echo 512 > /sys/class/rtc/rtc0/device/autocalibration

The other functionality that was added is handling the Oscillator Failure situation (see this patch). The Oscillator Failure is detected when the XT oscillator generates ticks at less than 8 kHz for more than 32 ms. In this case, the date and time can be wrong so an error is returned when an attempt to read the date from the RTC is made. This Oscillator Failure condition is cleared when a new date/time is set into the RTC.

RV-4162

The RV-4162 RTC is similar to ST M41T80 RTC family, so the existing driver has been used as well. However, as this driver was quite old, eight patches have been contributed to update the driver to newer APIs and to add new functionalities such as oscillator failure and alarm. The patches have already been merged by RTC maintainer Alexandre Belloni and should therefore find their way into the 4.7 Linux kernel release:

See [PATCH 0/8] rtc: m41t80: update and add functionalities for the entire patch series. Thanks to this project, the RV-4162 is now supported in the Linux Kernel and the entire family of I2C-based M41T80 RTCs will benefit from these improvements.

RV-3029 / RV-3049

The RV-3029 RTC driver already existed in the Linux kernel, and the the RV-3049 is the same reference than the RV-3029 but it is an SPI-based interface instead of an I2C one. This is a typical case where the regmap mechanism of the Linux kernel is useful: it allows to abstract the register accesses, regardless of the bus being used to communicate with the hardware. Thanks to this, a single driver can easily handle two devices that are interfaced over different busses, but offering the same register set, which is the case with RV-3029 on I2C and RV-3049 on SPI.

For this driver, some updates were needed to prepare the switch to using the regmap mechanism. Once the driver had been converted to regmap and worked as before, the RV-3049 support has been added. Finally, the alarm functionality has been added and fixed. The corresponding patches have already been merged by the RTC maintainer, and should therefore also be part of Linux 4.7:

Conclusion

It is great to see hardware vendors actively engaged in having support for their hardware in the upstream Linux kernel. This way, their users can immediately use the kernel version of their choice on their platform, without having to mess with outdated out-of-tree drivers. Thanks to Microcrystal for supporting this work!

Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to see your hardware supported in the official Linux kernel. Read more about our Linux kernel upstreaming services.

About Mylène Josserand

Mylène is a kernel and embedded Linux engineer at Free Electrons, which she joined in 2016. See More details...
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