16. Peripheral DMA Controller (PDC)

The Peripheral DMA Controller (PDC) transfers data between on-chip serial peripherals and the on- and/or off-chip memories. The PDC contains unidirectional and bidirectional channels. The full-duplex peripherals feature unidirectional channels used in pairs (transmit only or receive only). The half-duplex peripherals feature one bidirectional channel. Typically full-duplex peripherals are USARTs, SPI or SSC. The MCI is a half duplex device.

The user interface of each PDC channel is integrated into the user interface of the peripheral it serves. The user interface of unidirectional channels (receive only or transmit only), contains two 32-bit memory pointers and two 16-bit counters, one set (pointer, counter) for current transfer and one set (pointer, counter) for next transfer. The bidirectional channel user interface contains four 32-bit memory pointers and four 16-bit counters. Each set (pointer, counter) is used by current transmit, next transmit, current receive and next receive.

Using the PDC removes processor overhead by reducing its intervention during the transfer. This significantly reduces the number of clock cycles required for a data transfer, which improves microcontroller performance. To launch a transfer, the peripheral triggers its associated PDC channels by using transmit and receive signals. When the programmed data is transferred, an end of transfer interrupt is generated by the peripheral itself. There are four kinds of interrupts generated by the PDC:

  • End of Receive Buffer

  • End of Transmit Buffer

  • Receive Buffer Full

  • Transmit Buffer Empty

The "End of Receive Buffer" / "End of Transmit Buffer" interrupts signify that the DMA counter has reached zero. The DMA pointer and counter register will be reloaded from the reload registers ("DMA new pointer register" and "DMA new counter register") provided that the "DMA new counter register" has a non-zero value. Otherwise a "Receive Buffer Full" or, respectively, a "Transmit Buffer Empty" interrupt is generated, and the DMA transfer terminates. Both reload registers are set to zero automatically after having been copied to the DMA pointer and counter registers.