DMA Advantage

DMA is a hardware device that helps the data transmission between hardware device and memory. Computers that have DMA can transfer data to and from devices with much less CPU overhead than computers without a DMA.

Without DMA, using programmed input/output (PIO) mode for communication with peripheral devices , or load/store instructions in the case of multicore chips(with polled waiting loop or interrupt driven IO), the CPU is typically fully occupied for the entire duration of the read or write operation, and is thus unavailable to perform other work. With DMA, the CPU would initiate the transfer, do other operations while the transfer is in progress, and receive an interrupt from the DMA controller once the operation has been done. This is especially useful in real-time computing applications where not stalling behind concurrent operations is critical. Another and related application area is various forms of stream processing where it is essential to have data processing and transfer in parallel, in order to achieve sufficient throughput.

Single Mode & Burst Mode

Traditional Synchronous DMA moves a byte or word at a time between system memory and a peripheral, handshaking with the I/O port for each transfer. This sort of transfer recognizes that the port may not always be in a ready condition; the handshaking is a hardware mechanism to throttle the transactions.

With this sort of transfer, the program sets up the controller and then carries on, oblivious to the state of the DMA transaction. The hardware moves one byte or word between memory and I/O each time the I/O port signals it is ready for another transaction. On each read indication, the DMA controller asserts Bus Request, waits for a Bus Acknowledge in response, and then takes over the bus for a single cycle. Then, the DMA controller goes idle again, waiting for another ready signal from the port. Thus, the program and DMA cycles share bus cycles, with the controller winning any contest for control of the bus. Sometimes this is called "Cycle Stealing".

Burst Mode DMA, in contrast, generally assumes that the destination and source addresses can take transfers as fast as the controller can generate them. The program sets up the controller, and then (perhaps after a single ready indication from a port occurs), the entire source block is copied to the destination. The DMA controller gains exclusive access to the bus for the duration of the transfer, during which time the program is effectively shut down. Burst mode DMA can transfer data very rapidly indeed.

Reference — Good DMA article

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