Dealing with GPIOs from the out-of-band execution stage enables the application to always respond to external signals within a few microseconds regardless of the in-band workload running in parallel on the system. Enabling CONFIG_GPIOLIB_OOB in the kernel configuration turns on such such capability in the regular GPIOLIB driver, which depends on the EVL core. The out-of-band GPIO support is available to applications using a couple of additional I/O requests to the character device interface exported by this driver to application code running in user-space (i.e. based on ioctl(2) and read(2) calls for the most part). This inner interface is tersely documented, but you may find your way by having a look at this demo code available from the mainline kernel tree.

This driver interface is used by the libgpiod API internally.

Out-of-band GPIO operations in a nutshell

As stated in the introduction, the out-of-band I/O logic slips into the regular Linux device driver model as much as possible, without imposing a separate driver stack. In the GPIO case, we have been able to add the out-of-band support to an existing driver such as the GPIOLIB core instead of providing a dedicated driver.

This translates as follows:

  • Common GPIO handling operations in this driver are extended with the specific GPIOHANDLE_REQUEST_OOB flag, which tells the GPIOLIB core about our intent to operate a GPIO pin directly from the out-of-band execution stage, for input and/or output. Line set up and configuration are still done using the regular ioctl(2) interface, since these are in-band operations by design.

  • Waiting for a GPIO event is done by calling the oob_read() I/O service, instead of read(2).

  • Toggling a GPIO state is done by calling the oob_ioctl() I/O service, instead of ioctl(2).

Out-of-band line event and line handle requests

In order to use the out-of-band GPIO features, one simply needs to add the GPIOHANDLE_REQUEST_OOB flag defined by the EVL core to the common GPIOHANDLE_REQUEST_INPUT, GPIOHANDLE_REQUEST_OUTPUT operation flags, when issuing the GPIO_GET_LINEEVENT_IOCTL and GPIO_GET_LINEHANDLE_IOCTL ioctl(2) requests respectively. For instance, this is a fragment of code adapted from the latmus application which measures response time to GPIO events:

#include <sys/ioctl.h>
#include <linux/gpio.h>
#include <uapi/evl/devices/gpio.h>

static void setup_gpio_pins(int *fds)
	struct gpiohandle_request out;
	struct gpioevent_request in;
	int ret;

	in.lineoffset = gpio_inpin; /* Input pin number */
	strcpy(in.consumer_label, "latmon-pulse");

	ret = ioctl(gpio_infd, GPIO_GET_LINEEVENT_IOCTL, &in);
	if (ret)
		error(1, errno, "ioctl(GPIO_GET_LINEEVENT_IOCTL)");

	/* in.fd now contains the oob-capable line event descriptor. */

	out.lineoffsets[0] = gpio_outpin; /* Output pin number */
        out.lines = 1;
        out.default_values[0] = 1;
	strcpy(out.consumer_label, "latmon-ack");

	ret = ioctl(gpio_outfd, GPIO_GET_LINEHANDLE_IOCTL, &out);
	if (ret)
		error(1, errno, "ioctl(GPIO_GET_LINEHANDLE_IOCTL)");

	/* out.fd now contains the oob-capable line handle descriptor. */

	fds[0] = in.fd;
	fds[1] = out.fd;

Once a file descriptor is obtained on the GPIO controller - like /dev/gpiochip0 - for input (gpio_infd) and output (gpio_outfd), the application may ask for:

  • a line event descriptor for receiving GPIO interrupts directly from the out-of-band stage, by waiting on the oob_read() I/O service.

  • a line handle descriptor for changing the state of GPIO pins directly from the out-of-band stage, by calling the oob_ioctl() I/O service, with the GPIOHANDLE_SET_LINE_VALUES_IOCTL request code.

A thread which responds to GPIO events on an input pin by flipping the state of an output pin, all from the out-of-band stage could look like this:

static void *gpio_responder_thread(void *arg)
	struct gpiohandle_data data = { 0 };
	struct gpioevent_data event;
	const int ackval = 0;	/* Remote observes falling edges. */
	int fds[2], efd, ret;


	 * Attach to the EVL core so that we may issue out-of-band
	 * requests.
	efd = evl_attach_self("/gpio-responder:%d", getpid());
	if (efd < 0)
		error(1, -efd, "evl_attach_self() failed");

	 * Loop: wait for the next event, then trigger an edge by flipping
	 * the pin state.
	for (;;) {
		data.values[0] = !ackval;
		ret = oob_ioctl(fds[1], GPIOHANDLE_SET_LINE_VALUES_IOCTL, &data);
		if (ret)
			error(1, errno,

		/* Wait for the next interrupt on the input pin. */
		ret = oob_read(fds[0], &event, sizeof(event));
		if (ret != sizeof(event))

		/* Start flipping the output pin. */
		data.values[0] = ackval;
		ret = oob_ioctl(fds[1], GPIOHANDLE_SET_LINE_VALUES_IOCTL, &data);
		if (ret)
			error(1, errno,

	return NULL;

Last modified: Sun, 21 May 2023 18:02:07 +0200