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Generic panel framework

From:  Laurent Pinchart <>
Subject:  [RFC 0/5] Generic panel framework
Date:  Fri, 17 Aug 2012 02:49:38 +0200
Message-ID:  <>
Cc:, Bryan Wu <>, Richard Purdie <>, Tomi Valkeinen <>, Marcus Lorentzon <>, Sumit Semwal <>, Archit Taneja <>, Sebastien Guiriec <>, Inki Dae <>, Kyungmin Park <>
Archive-link:  Article

Hi everybody,

While working on DT bindings for the Renesas Mobile SoC display controller
(a.k.a. LCDC) I quickly realized that display panel implementation based on
board code callbacks would need to be replaced by a driver-based panel

Several driver-based panel support solution already exist in the kernel.

- The LCD device class is implemented in drivers/video/backlight/lcd.c and
  exposes a kernel API in include/linux/lcd.h. That API is tied to the FBDEV
  API for historical reason, uses board code callback for reset and power
  management, and doesn't include support for standard features available in
  today's "smart panels".

- OMAP2+ based systems use custom panel drivers available in
  drivers/video/omap2/displays. Those drivers are based on OMAP DSS (display
  controller) specific APIs.

- Similarly, Exynos based systems use custom panel drivers available in
  drivers/video/exynos. Only a single driver (s6e8ax0) is currently available.
  That driver is based on Exynos display controller specific APIs and on the
  LCD device class API.

I've brought up the issue with Tomi Valkeinen (OMAP DSS maintainer) and Marcus
Lorentzon (working on panel support for ST/Linaro), and we agreed that a
generic panel framework for display devices is needed. These patches implement
a first proof of concept.

One of the main reasons for creating a new panel framework instead of adding
missing features to the LCD framework is to avoid being tied to the FBDEV
framework. Panels will be used by DRM drivers as well, and their API should
thus be subsystem-agnostic. Note that the panel framework used the
fb_videomode structure in its API, this will be replaced by a common video
mode structure shared across subsystems (there's only so many hours per day).

Panels, as used in these patches, are defined as physical devices combining a
matrix of pixels and a controller capable of driving that matrix.

Panel physical devices are registered as children of the control bus the panel
controller is connected to (depending on the panel type, we can find platform
devices for dummy panels with no control bus, or I2C, SPI, DBI, DSI, ...
devices). The generic panel framework matches registered panel devices with
panel drivers and call the panel drivers probe method, as done by other device
classes in the kernel. The driver probe() method is responsible for
instantiating a struct panel instance and registering it with the generic
panel framework.

Display drivers are panel consumers. They register a panel notifier with the
framework, which then calls the notifier when a matching panel is registered.
The reason for this asynchronous mode of operation, compared to how drivers
acquire regulator or clock resources, is that the panel can use resources
provided by the display driver. For instance a panel can be a child of the DBI
or DSI bus controlled by the display device, or use a clock provided by that
device. We can't defer the display device probe until the panel is registered
and also defer the panel device probe until the display is registered. As
most display drivers need to handle output devices hotplug (HDMI monitors for
instance), handling panel through a notification system seemed to be the
easiest solution.

Note that this brings a different issue after registration, as display and
panel drivers would take a reference to each other. Those circular references
would make driver unloading impossible. I haven't found a good solution for
that problem yet (hence the RFC state of those patches), and I would
appreciate your input here. This might also be a hint that the framework
design is wrong to start with. I guess I can't get everything right on the
first try ;-)

Getting hold of the panel is the most complex part. Once done, display drivers
can call abstract operations provided by panel drivers to control the panel
operation. These patches implement three of those operations (enable, start
transfer and get modes). More operations will be needed, and those three
operations will likely get modified during review. Most of the panels on
devices I own are dumb panels with no control bus, and are thus not the best
candidates to design a framework that needs to take complex panels' needs into

In addition to the generic panel core, I've implemented MIPI DBI (Display Bus
Interface, a parallel bus for panels that supports read/write transfers of
commands and data) bus support, as well as three panel drivers (dummy panels
with no control bus, and Renesas R61505- and R61517-based panels, both using
DBI as their control bus). Only the dummy panel driver has been tested as I
lack hardware for the two other drivers.

I will appreciate all reviews, comments, criticisms, ideas, remarks, ... If
you can find a clever way to solve the cyclic references issue described above
I'll buy you a beer at the next conference we will both attend. If you think
the proposed solution is too complex, or too simple, I'm all ears. I
personally already feel that we might need something even more generic to
support other kinds of external devices connected to display controllers, such
as external DSI to HDMI converters for instance. Some kind of video entity
exposing abstract operations like the panels do would make sense, in which
case panels would "inherit" from that video entity.

Speaking of conferences, I will attend the KS/LPC in San Diego in a bit more
than a week, and would be happy to discuss this topic face to face there.

Laurent Pinchart (5):
  video: Add generic display panel core
  video: panel: Add dummy panel support
  video: panel: Add MIPI DBI bus support
  video: panel: Add R61505 panel support
  video: panel: Add R61517 panel support

 drivers/video/Kconfig              |    1 +
 drivers/video/Makefile             |    1 +
 drivers/video/panel/Kconfig        |   37 +++
 drivers/video/panel/Makefile       |    5 +
 drivers/video/panel/panel-dbi.c    |  217 +++++++++++++++
 drivers/video/panel/panel-dummy.c  |  103 +++++++
 drivers/video/panel/panel-r61505.c |  520 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 drivers/video/panel/panel-r61517.c |  408 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 drivers/video/panel/panel.c        |  269 +++++++++++++++++++
 include/video/panel-dbi.h          |   92 +++++++
 include/video/panel-dummy.h        |   25 ++
 include/video/panel-r61505.h       |   27 ++
 include/video/panel-r61517.h       |   28 ++
 include/video/panel.h              |  111 ++++++++
 14 files changed, 1844 insertions(+), 0 deletions(-)
 create mode 100644 drivers/video/panel/Kconfig
 create mode 100644 drivers/video/panel/Makefile
 create mode 100644 drivers/video/panel/panel-dbi.c
 create mode 100644 drivers/video/panel/panel-dummy.c
 create mode 100644 drivers/video/panel/panel-r61505.c
 create mode 100644 drivers/video/panel/panel-r61517.c
 create mode 100644 drivers/video/panel/panel.c
 create mode 100644 include/video/panel-dbi.h
 create mode 100644 include/video/panel-dummy.h
 create mode 100644 include/video/panel-r61505.h
 create mode 100644 include/video/panel-r61517.h
 create mode 100644 include/video/panel.h


Laurent Pinchart

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