12.2. General Architecture

CAM stands for Common Access Method. It is a generic way to address the I/O buses in a SCSI-like way. This allows a separation of the generic device drivers from the drivers controlling the I/O bus: for example the disk driver becomes able to control disks on both SCSI, IDE, and/or any other bus so the disk driver portion does not have to be rewritten (or copied and modified) for every new I/O bus. Thus the two most important active entities are:

A peripheral driver receives requests from the OS, converts them to a sequence of SCSI commands and passes these SCSI commands to a SCSI Interface Module. The SCSI Interface Module is responsible for passing these commands to the actual hardware (or if the actual hardware is not SCSI but, for example, IDE then also converting the SCSI commands to the native commands of the hardware).

As we are interested in writing a SCSI adapter driver here, from this point on we will consider everything from the SIM standpoint.

A typical SIM driver needs to include the following CAM-related header files:

#include <cam/cam.h>
#include <cam/cam_ccb.h>
#include <cam/cam_sim.h>
#include <cam/cam_xpt_sim.h>
#include <cam/cam_debug.h>
#include <cam/scsi/scsi_all.h>

The first thing each SIM driver must do is register itself with the CAM subsystem. This is done during the driver's xxx_attach() function (here and further xxx_ is used to denote the unique driver name prefix). The xxx_attach() function itself is called by the system bus auto-configuration code which we do not describe here.

This is achieved in multiple steps: first it is necessary to allocate the queue of requests associated with this SIM:

    struct cam_devq *devq;

    if(( devq = cam_simq_alloc(SIZE) )==NULL) {
        error; /* some code to handle the error */

Here SIZE is the size of the queue to be allocated, maximal number of requests it could contain. It is the number of requests that the SIM driver can handle in parallel on one SCSI card. Commonly it can be calculated as:


Next we create a descriptor of our SIM:

    struct cam_sim *sim;

    if(( sim = cam_sim_alloc(action_func, poll_func, driver_name,
            softc, unit, mtx, max_dev_transactions,
            max_tagged_dev_transactions, devq) )==NULL) {
        error; /* some code to handle the error */

Note that if we are not able to create a SIM descriptor we free the devq also because we can do nothing else with it and we want to conserve memory.

If a SCSI card has multiple SCSI buses on it then each bus requires its own cam_sim structure.

An interesting question is what to do if a SCSI card has more than one SCSI bus, do we need one devq structure per card or per SCSI bus? The answer given in the comments to the CAM code is: either way, as the driver's author prefers.

The arguments are:

Finally we register the SCSI buses associated with our SCSI adapter:

    if(xpt_bus_register(sim, softc, bus_number) != CAM_SUCCESS) {
        cam_sim_free(sim, /*free_devq*/ TRUE);
        error; /* some code to handle the error */

If there is one devq structure per SCSI bus (i.e., we consider a card with multiple buses as multiple cards with one bus each) then the bus number will always be 0, otherwise each bus on the SCSI card should be get a distinct number. Each bus needs its own separate structure cam_sim.

After that our controller is completely hooked to the CAM system. The value of devq can be discarded now: sim will be passed as an argument in all further calls from CAM and devq can be derived from it.

CAM provides the framework for such asynchronous events. Some events originate from the lower levels (the SIM drivers), some events originate from the peripheral drivers, some events originate from the CAM subsystem itself. Any driver can register callbacks for some types of the asynchronous events, so that it would be notified if these events occur.

A typical example of such an event is a device reset. Each transaction and event identifies the devices to which it applies by the means of path. The target-specific events normally occur during a transaction with this device. So the path from that transaction may be re-used to report this event (this is safe because the event path is copied in the event reporting routine but not deallocated nor passed anywhere further). Also it is safe to allocate paths dynamically at any time including the interrupt routines, although that incurs certain overhead, and a possible problem with this approach is that there may be no free memory at that time. For a bus reset event we need to define a wildcard path including all devices on the bus. So we can create the path for the future bus reset events in advance and avoid problems with the future memory shortage:

    struct cam_path *path;

    if(xpt_create_path(&path, /*periph*/NULL,
                cam_sim_path(sim), CAM_TARGET_WILDCARD,
                CAM_LUN_WILDCARD) != CAM_REQ_CMP) {
        cam_sim_free(sim, /*free_devq*/TRUE);
        error; /* some code to handle the error */

    softc->wpath = path;
    softc->sim = sim;

As you can see the path includes:

If the driver can not allocate this path it will not be able to work normally, so in that case we dismantle that SCSI bus.

And we save the path pointer in the softc structure for future use. After that we save the value of sim (or we can also discard it on the exit from xxx_probe() if we wish).

That is all for a minimalistic initialization. To do things right there is one more issue left.

For a SIM driver there is one particularly interesting event: when a target device is considered lost. In this case resetting the SCSI negotiations with this device may be a good idea. So we register a callback for this event with CAM. The request is passed to CAM by requesting CAM action on a CAM control block for this type of request:

    struct ccb_setasync csa;

    xpt_setup_ccb(&csa.ccb_h, path, /*priority*/5);
    csa.ccb_h.func_code = XPT_SASYNC_CB;
    csa.event_enable = AC_LOST_DEVICE;
    csa.callback = xxx_async;
    csa.callback_arg = sim;
    xpt_action((union ccb *)&csa);

Now we take a look at the xxx_action() and xxx_poll() driver entry points.

static void xxx_action (struct cam_sim *simunion ccb *ccb); 
struct cam_sim *sim, union ccb *ccb ;

Do some action on request of the CAM subsystem. Sim describes the SIM for the request, CCB is the request itself. CCB stands for CAM Control Block. It is a union of many specific instances, each describing arguments for some type of transactions. All of these instances share the CCB header where the common part of arguments is stored.

CAM supports the SCSI controllers working in both initiator (normal) mode and target (simulating a SCSI device) mode. Here we only consider the part relevant to the initiator mode.

There are a few function and macros (in other words, methods) defined to access the public data in the struct sim:

To identify the device, xxx_action() can get the unit number and pointer to its structure softc using these functions.

The type of request is stored in ccb->ccb_h.func_code. So generally xxx_action() consists of a big switch:

    struct xxx_softc *softc = (struct xxx_softc *) cam_sim_softc(sim);
    struct ccb_hdr *ccb_h = &ccb->ccb_h;
    int unit = cam_sim_unit(sim);
    int bus = cam_sim_bus(sim);

    switch(ccb_h->func_code) {
    case ...:
        ccb_h->status = CAM_REQ_INVALID;

As can be seen from the default case (if an unknown command was received) the return code of the command is set into ccb->ccb_h.status and the completed CCB is returned back to CAM by calling xpt_done(ccb).

xpt_done() does not have to be called from xxx_action(): For example an I/O request may be enqueued inside the SIM driver and/or its SCSI controller. Then when the device would post an interrupt signaling that the processing of this request is complete xpt_done() may be called from the interrupt handling routine.

Actually, the CCB status is not only assigned as a return code but a CCB has some status all the time. Before CCB is passed to the xxx_action() routine it gets the status CCB_REQ_INPROG meaning that it is in progress. There are a surprising number of status values defined in /sys/cam/cam.h which should be able to represent the status of a request in great detail. More interesting yet, the status is in fact a bitwise or of an enumerated status value (the lower 6 bits) and possible additional flag-like bits (the upper bits). The enumerated values will be discussed later in more detail. The summary of them can be found in the Errors Summary section. The possible status flags are:

The function xxx_action() is not allowed to sleep, so all the synchronization for resource access must be done using SIM or device queue freezing. Besides the aforementioned flags the CAM subsystem provides functions xpt_release_simq() and xpt_release_devq() to unfreeze the queues directly, without passing a CCB to CAM.

The CCB header contains the following fields:

The recommended way of using the SIM private fields of CCB is to define some meaningful names for them and use these meaningful names in the driver, like:

#define ccb_some_meaningful_name    sim_priv.entries[0].bytes
#define ccb_hcb spriv_ptr1 /* for hardware control block */

The most common initiator mode requests are:

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