i.MX 8M Mini - Are clocks synchronized across Cortex A and Cortex M?

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i.MX 8M Mini - Are clocks synchronized across Cortex A and Cortex M?

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stephen_eng
Contributor III

I have an i.MX 8M Mini EVK, and I'm running Linux on the Cortex A53 and was planning on running FreeRTOS on the Cortex M4. I was curious, if I'm doing stuff on the Cortex A53, like changing the wall-clock time via Linux (think synchronizing its wall clock to a master clock source), does that change propagate to the Cortex M4 running FreeRTOS? 

If not, how would you reliably synchronize the two clocks to run in step with each other?

Thanks.

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Bio_TICFSL
NXP TechSupport
NXP TechSupport

Hello Stephen,

If the clock parent is the same for A53 and M4, then by modifying the clock speed on Linux, will also modify at M4 side, for example, if both domains are fed by SYSTEM_PLL1, by changing the PLL1 speed, changes all the clock tree tied to this source.

 

There are 2 methods to change the clock speed of one domain without changing the other side:

 - Each domain uses a different clock source

 - Change the speed by selecting a different clock divider, instead of modifying the PLL parameters, for example.

 

If not, how would you reliably synchronize the two clocks to run in step with each other?

 

To syncronize the clocks, the application may select the same clock source for both cores, for example in the table below, the ARM_A53_CLK_ROOT may derive from SYSTEM_PLL1_CLK and ARM_M4_CLK_ROOT may derive from SYSTEM_PLL1_DIV3. In this situation, the speed for M4 is 1/3 of A53 and they will be in synchronization.

 

pastedImage_3.png

 

Just pay attention for the maximum frequency speed for each domains.

Regards

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stephen_eng
Contributor III

Hi Bio_TICFSL,

Thanks for the pointers. I'll take a look at that a little more, but I either don't quite understand everything you mentioned, or I didn't word my question clearly enough.

If I were to display the date/time from the Cortex A processor (i.e. the 'date' command), I'll get something like April 8, 2020, 1:01:03 pm. If I were to do something similar on the Cortex M processor (which, I don't actually know how to do that... if you happen to know the API function call, I would be immensely appreciative), should I expect to see the same answer? If I change the date/time on the Cortex A processor to something ridiculous, would it automatically affect the Cortex M processor as well?

Configuring the two to use the same clock source would indeed keep them in lock step with one another, and I won't have to worry about drift over time. I just wasn't sure about how the real-time clock works with these two processors.

Kind regards.

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Bio_TICFSL
NXP TechSupport
NXP TechSupport

The date and time is stored in SNVS (Secure Non-Volatile Storage) domain, which normally has an uninterrupted power supply, like a coin-cell battery, and its clock is derived from external 32kHz crystal.  So when you type a command 'date' in Linux, the driver reads the data from Secure RTC (Real Time Clock).

 

The date and time is stored at SNVS_LP SRTC register, this is a secure region, so not all peripherals have access to it, a simple method is to "mirror" this register synchronizing it with the HP (High Power) counter of the SNVS, thus, you can read it from M4, as explained below on Reference Manual.

 

pastedImage_1.png

As this is a register, any modification on A53 side, is immediately observed at M4 side. 

 

There is no specific API, you'll have to implement a register read on M4 code. Using the SDK makes this implementation much faster.

Regards

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