IRQ handling

The driver API to the IRQ subsystem exposes the new interrupt type flag IRQF_OOB, denoting an out-of-band handler to the generic interrupt API routines:

  • setup_irq() for early registration of special interrupts
  • request_irq() for device interrupts
  • __request_percpu_irq() for per-CPU interrupts

An IRQ action handler bearing this flag will run from out-of-band context over the oob stage, regardless of the current interrupt state of the in-band stage. If no oob stage is present, the flag will be ignored, with the interrupt handler running on the in-band stage as usual.

Conversely, out-of-band handlers can be dismissed using the generic interrupt API, such as:

  • free_irq() for device interrupts
  • free_percpu_irq() for per-CPU interrupts

Out-of-band IRQ handling has the following constraints:

  • If the IRQ is shared, with multiple action handlers registered for the same event, all other handlers on the same interrupt channel must bear the IRQF_OOB flag too, or the request will fail.

If meeting real-time requirements is your goal, sharing an IRQ line among multiple devices operating from different execution stages (in-band vs out-of-band) can only be a bad idea design-wise. You should resort to this in desparate hardware situations only.

  • Obviously, out-of-band handlers cannot be threaded (IRQF_NO_THREAD is implicit, IRQF_ONESHOT is ignored).

Installing an out-of-band handler for a device interrupt

#include <linux/interrupt.h>

static irqreturn_t oob_interrupt_handler(int irq, void *dev_id)
	return IRQ_HANDLED;

init __init driver_init_routine(void)
	int ret;

	ret = request_irq(DEVICE_IRQ, oob_interrupt_handler,
			  IRQF_OOB, "Out-of-band device IRQ",
	if (ret)
		goto fail;

	return 0;
	/* Unwind upon error. */