Comparison of Interrupt driven I/O and Polling

Interrupt driven I/O is better than polling. In the case of polling a lot of time is wasted in questioning the peripheral device whether it is ready for delivering the data or not. In the case of interrupt driven I/O the CPU time in polling is saved.

advanced computer architecture  Comparison of Interrupt driven I/O and Polling

Now the design issues involved in implementation of the interrupts are twofold. There would be a number of interrupts that could be initiated. Once the interrupt is there, how the CPU does know which particular device initiated this interrupt. So the first question is evaluation of the peripheral device or looking at which peripheral device has generated the interrupt. Now the second important question is that usually there would be a number of interrupts simultaneously available. So if there are a number of interrupts then there should be a mechanism by which we could just resolve that which particular interrupt should be serviced first. So there should be some priority mechanism.

Design Issues

There are two design issues:

  1. Device Identification
  2. Priority mechanism

Device Identification

In this issue different mechanisms could be used.

  • Multiple interrupt lines
  • Software Poll
  • Daisy Chain

1. Multiple Interrupt Line

This is the most straight forward approach, and in this method, a number of interrupt lines are provided between the CPU and the I/O module. However, it is impractical to dedicate more than a few bus lines or CPU pins to interrupt lines. Consequently, even if multiple lines are used, it is likely that each line will have multiple I/O modules attached to it. Thus on each line, one of the other technique would still be required.

2. Software Poll

CPU polls to identify the interrupting module and branches to an interrupt service routine on detecting an interrupt. This identification is done using special commands or reading the device status register. Special command may be a test I/O. In this case, CPU raises test I/O and places the address of a particular I/O module on the address line. If I/O module sets the interrupt then it responds positively. In the case of an addressable status register, the CPU reads the status register of each I/O module to identify the interrupting module. Once the correct module is identified, the CPU branches to a device service routine which is specific to that particular device.

Simplified Interrupt Circuit for an I/O Interface

For above two techniques the implementation might require some hardware. The hardware would be specific to the processor which is being used. For example, for the case of SRC, simple hardware machanism is indicated. Now the basic technique is handshaking and in this case of handshaking, the peripheral device would initiate an interrupt. This interrupt needs to be enabled. We will have a mechanism of ANDing the two signals. One is interrupt enable and other is interrupt request. Now these two requests would be passed on the CPU. The CPU passes on the acknowledge signal to the device. The acknowledge signal is shared and it goes on to different devices. The information about interrupt vector is given in 8-bits, from bit 0 to 7, which is translated to bit 16 to 23 on the data bus. Now the other 16-bits, from 0 to 15 are mapped to the data lines from 0 to 15. Now both of these are available through the tri-state buffers, which would be enabled through interrupt acknowledge.

advanced computer architecture  Comparison of Interrupt driven I/O and Polling

3. Daisy Chain

The wired or interrupt signal allows several devices to request interrupt simultaneously. However, for proper operation one and only one requesting device must receive an acknowledge signal, otherwise if we have more than one devices, we would have a data bus contention and the interrupt information would not be resolved. The usual solution is called a daisy chain. Assuming that if we have jth devices requesting for interrupt then first device 0 would receive the acknowledge signal, so therefore, iack0=iack. The next device would only receive an acknowledge i.e., the jth device would receive an acknowledge if the previous device that means j-1 does not have an enabled interrupt

request, that means interrupt was not initiated by the previous device. Now the figure shows this concept in the form of a connection from

advanced computer architecture  Comparison of Interrupt driven I/O and Polling

device 0 to 1. From 0, we see the acknowledge is generated for device 1, device 1 generates acknowledge for device2 and so on. So this signal propagates from one device to other device. Logically we could write it in the form of equation:

iackj= iack j-1^(reqj-1^enb j-1)

As we said that the previous device should not have generated an interrupt, that means its interrupt was not enabled and therefore, it passes on the acknowledge signal from its output to he next device.

Disadvantages of Software Poll and Daisy Chain

The software poll has a disadvantage is that it consumes a lot of time, while the daisy chain is more efficient. The daisy chain has the disadvantage that the device nearest to the CPU would have highest priority. So, usually those devices which require higher priority would be connected nearer to the CPU. Now in order to get a fair chance for other devices, other mechanisms could be initiated or we could say that we could start instead of device 0 from that device where the CPU finishes the last interrupt and could have a cyclic provision to different devices.

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