Last edited 8 months ago

PWM overview

Applicable for STM32MP13x lines, STM32MP15x lines, STM32MP25x lines

This article gives information about the Linux® PWM framework.
It explains how to activate the PWM interface and, based on examples, how to use it.

1. Framework purpose[edit source]

PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) framework offers a unified interface for the users to:

  • control PWM output(s) such as period, duty cycle and polarity.
  • capture a PWM signal and report its period and duty cycle (e.g. input).

The interface can be used from:

  • user space (sysfs)
  • kernel space (API)

PWMs can be used in various use cases, as mentioned in How to use the framework to control LEDs, beepers, vibrators or fans...

2. System overview[edit source]

PWM sysfs interfacePWM kernel interfaceSTM32 TIM Linux driverSTM32 LPTIM Linux driverSTM32 TIM internal peripheralSTM32 LPTIM internal peripheral
PWM Implementation architecture

2.1. Component description[edit source]

  • PWM user (User space)

The user can use PWM sysfs interface, from a user terminal or a custom application, to control PWM device(s) from user space.

  • PWM user (Kernel space)

User drivers can use PWM API to control PWM external device(s) from kernel space (such as back-light, vibrator, LED or fan drivers).

  • PWM framework (Kernel space)

The PWM core provides sysfs interface and PWM API. They can be used to implement PWM user and PWM controller drivers.

  • PWM drivers (Kernel space)

Provider drivers such as STM32 TIM Linux driver and STM32 LPTIM Linux driver that expose PWM controller(s) to the core.

  • PWM hardware

PWM controller(s) such as TIM internal peripheral[1] and LPTIM internal peripheral[2] used to drive external PWM controlled devices.

2.2. API description[edit source]

Documentation on PWM interface can be found under kernel Documentation/driver-api/pwm.rst[3]

2.2.1. Kernel PWM API[edit source]

The main useful user API are the following:

  • devm_pwm_get() or pwm_get() / pwm_put(): this API is used to look up, request, then free a PWM device.
  • pwm_init_state(), pwm_get_state(), pwm_apply_state(): this API is used to initialize, retrieve and apply the current PWM device state.
  • pwm_config(): this API updates the PWM device configuration (period and duty cycle).
  • ...

2.2.2. Sysfs interface[edit source]

In addition to Documentation/driver-api/pwm.rst[3], details on ABI are available in Documentation/ABI/testing/sysfs-class-pwm[4].

3. Configuration[edit source]

3.1. Kernel configuration[edit source]

Activate PWM framework in the kernel configuration through the Linux menuconfig tool, Menuconfig or how to configure kernel (CONFIG_PWM=y):

Device Drivers  --->
   [*] Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) Support  --->

Activate PWM drivers for STM32 PWM drivers: STM32 TIM Linux driver and/or STM32 LPTIM Linux driver

3.2. Device tree configuration[edit source]

  • PWM generic DT bindings:

PWM DT bindings documentation[5] describes device tree properties related to standard PWM user nodes and PWM controller nodes.

  • Detailed DT configuration for STM32 internal peripherals:

TIM device tree configuration and/or LPTIM device tree configuration

4. How to use the framework[edit source]

PWM can be used either from the user or the kernel space.

4.1. How to use PWM with sysfs interface[edit source]

The available PWM controllers are listed in sysfs:

 ls /sys/class/pwm

The number of channels per controller can be read in npwm (read-only)

 cd /sys/class/pwm/pwmchip0
 cat npwm

Each channel is exported (requested for sysfs activation) by writing the corresponding number in 'export'.

Info white.png Information
TIMx_CH1 is exported as "pwm0", TIMx_CH2 as "pwm1", and so on:
  • PWM channels are numbered from 0 to 'npwm' - 1
  • TIM[1] channels are numbered from 1 to 'npwm'.

As an example, proceed as follows to export the first channel (TIMx_CH1, e.g. channel 0):

 echo 0 > export
device  export  npwm  power  pwm0  subsystem  uevent  unexport

The period and duty cycle must be configured before enabling any channel.

As an example, proceed as follows to set a period of 100 ms with a duty cycle of 60% on channel 0:

 echo 100000000 > pwm0/period
 echo 60000000 > pwm0/duty_cycle
 echo 1 > pwm0/enable

The polarity can be inverted or set to normal by using the polarity entry:

 echo "inversed" > pwm0/polarity
 cat pwm0/polarity

 echo "normal" > pwm0/polarity
 cat pwm0/polarity

4.2. How to use PWM capture with sysfs interface[edit source]

PWM capture is available on some PWM controllers such as TIM internal peripheral[1] (see TIM configured in PWM input capture mode ).

Info white.png Information
PWM output and capture mode are mutually exclusive on a TIM instance
# First export a channel (e.g. 0), then capture PWM input on it:
 cd /sys/class/pwm/pwmchip0
 echo 0 > export

 cd pwm0
capture  duty_cycle  enable  period  polarity  power  uevent

 cat capture
10000 1002               # capture result is in nano-seconds, e.g.: 100KHz, 10% duty cycle

4.3. Example of PWM usage with kernel PWM API[edit source]

Several in-kernel drivers use kernel PWM API. Below a few examples:

5. How to trace and debug the framework[edit source]

5.1. How to monitor with debugfs[edit source]

PWM usage can be monitored from debugfs 'pwm' entry. For example:

 cd /sys/kernel/debug/
 cat pwm
platform/44000000.timer:pwm, 4 PWM devices                                                               <-- One timer instance exposes 4 PWM channels.
 pwm-0   (sysfs               ): requested enabled period: 1000000 ns duty: 500000 ns polarity: normal   <-- Channel 0 has been exported, enabled and configured via sysfs
 pwm-1   ((null)              ): period: 0 ns duty: 0 ns polarity: normal
 pwm-2   ((null)              ): period: 0 ns duty: 0 ns polarity: normal                                <-- Other channels aren't used currently
 pwm-3   ((null)              ): period: 0 ns duty: 0 ns polarity: normal

5.2. Troubleshooting PWM capture[edit source]

Here are some clues on how to debug possible errors in PWM capture mode.
See How to use PWM capture with sysfs interface as a pre-requisite.

 cat capture 
cat: capture: Connection timed out

This may be due to:

  • the input signal isn't recognized as a PWM input (or there's no input signal to capture).
  • a wrong alternate function number is used for the input pin configuration in the device-tree.
    See "TIM configured in PWM input capture mode" for further details.
 cat capture 
cat: capture: Device or resource busy

This may be due to:

  • a PWM channel on the same TIM instance is already running (in capture or output mode)
 cat capture 
cat: capture: No such device

This may be due to:

 cat capture
cat: capture: Function not implemented

This may be due to:

  • a wrong TIM instance is being used (e.g. "/sys/class/pwm/pwmchip/pwmchipN"), and it doesn't support capture (like LPTIM)
  • the DMA support isn't enabled (CONFIG_DMA_ENGINE)

6. References[edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 TIM internal peripheral
  2. LPTIM internal peripheral
  3. 3.0 3.1 Documentation/driver-api/pwm.rst , Pulse Width Modulation interface
  4. Documentation/ABI/testing/sysfs-class-pwm , Pulse Width Modulation ABI
  5. Documentation/devicetree/bindings/pwm/pwm.txt , PWM DT bindings documentation
  6. drivers/input/misc/pwm-beeper.c , Example to use kernel PWM API
  7. drivers/input/misc/pwm-vibra.c , Example to use kernel PWM API