Re: RFC: Timer/Timeout API

Luiz Augusto von Dentz

Hi Dmitriy,

On Wed, Apr 13, 2016 at 1:18 AM, Dmitriy Korovkin
<dmitriy.korovkin(a)> wrote:
On Tue, 12 Apr 2016, Luiz Augusto von Dentz wrote:

Hi Dmitriy,

On Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 9:32 PM, Dmitriy Korovkin
<dmitriy.korovkin(a)> wrote:

On Fri, 8 Apr 2016, Luiz Augusto von Dentz wrote:


For the network protocols is quite common to have timers/timeouts for
retrying, etc, and these cold be many in parallel depending on how
many protocols and connections are involved, for that reason the IP
stack actually contains a Timer Fiber to keep track of every timer, it
does basically something like this:

while (1) {
/* Run various timers */
next_wakeup = etimer_request_poll();
if (next_wakeup == 0) {
/* There was no timers, wait for fiber_wakeup */
next_wakeup = TICKS_UNLIMITED;
} else {
if (next_wakeup > MAX_TIMER_WAKEUP) {
next_wakeup = MAX_TIMER_WAKEUP;

This actually uses contiki etimer infra but that in the end is using
nano_timer as a backend.

In the other hand in the Bluetooth stack we actually use delayed
fibers, but that requires each and every timeout to create its own
stack to be run separately which adds more footprint to the stack, so
we would like to use the same approach of IP stack and share the same
fiber/stack but without having to resort to any contiki API.

I am not quite sure I understand the problem. Kernel keeps the track of
nanokernel timers and timeouts. If needed, each fiber can wait on a
timer (one fiber per timer). Not sure, what is the need for a separate
that runs through the timers.

By kernel I guess you mean that each fiber has a capability to run
timers, which is not useful in case of net subsystem since that
requires each and every timeout to have a dedicated stack.
In other words, the idea of several fibers does not work for you, I see.

With this in mind Id like to get some opinions regarding the design of
a Timer/Timeout API:

- Shall this be global/system wide or net specific? I think it could
be global enabled with a Kconfig option and perhaps make _nano_timeout
API public.

Depends on what is needed. If this is a global change (apility for
fibers to wait on one timer, for instance), this should be global.

I never said we want the ability for multiple fibers to wait on one
timer, it is actually the opposite that we are doing in IP since there
is a single fiber managing multiple nano_timers calling a callback
when they expire. Anyway I starting to think we would be better off
prototyping this under net so we get the ball rolling.

- Perhaps have the API flexible enough so private fiber could be used
instead in case one don't want to use the global one?

As the kernel keeps track of the timers, there may be something else is

As I understand the kernel has APIs to put a fiber/task to sleep for
an x amount of ticks, blocking them, it doesn't have any API that the
user provide a callback which gets called when the timer expire
without blocking or requiring a new fiber for each call.
Ok, now it gets clearer. You are asking for a nanokernel timer API that
executes a registered callback when it expires. I do not think it is a good
idea to execute callbacks in ISR context, which brings us to an idea
of a fiber that executes these callbacks. Is this what you are asking for?
For this we need to make sure that a fiber can sleep on multiple timers.
The stack size for this fiber should be configurable.
Does it look good?
Yes, it is actually what we already have in IP which maintain a fiber
to execute the callbacks but the API is based on contiki etimers which
is something we would not like to use in Bluetooth. We have actually
discussed about using ISR context and came to the same conclusion that
it is perhaps not a good idea, although the callback should not block
either since that would block other callbacks to be executed. This
concept in fact is very similar to Linux Workqueues, but in Linux it
is possible to create dedicated workqueues which perhaps is useful for
drivers, etc. Anyway I started prototyping for Bluetooth first to see
how it works in practice.

Luiz Augusto von Dentz

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