DMA Controller in Computer Architecture

DMA Controller:- The DMA controller needs the usual circuits of an interface to communicate with the CPU and I/O device. In addition, it needs an address register, a word count register, and a set of address lines. The address register and address lines are used for direct communication with the memory The word count register specifies the number of words that must be transferred. The data transfer may be done directly between the device and memory under the control of the DMA. In this post, we discuss DMA Controller in Computer Architecture.


DMA Controller

DMA Controller

Block diagram of DMA controller


The figure shows the block diagram of a typical DMA controller. The unit communicates with the CPU via the data bus and control lines. The registers in the DMA are selected by the CPU through the address bus by enabling the DS (DMA select) and RS (register select) inputs. The RD (read) and WR (write) inputs are bidirectional. When the BG (bus grant) input is 0, the CPU can communicate with the DMA registers through the data bus to read from or write to the DMA registers. When BG= 1, the CPU has relinquished the buses and the DMA can communicate directly with the memory by specifying an address in the address bus and activating the RD or WR control. The DMA communicates with the external peripheral through the request and acknowledges lines by using a prescribed handshaking procedure.

The DMA controller has three registers: an address register, a word count register, and a control register. The address register contains an address to specify the desired location in memory. The address bits go through bus buffers into the address bus. The address register is incremented after each word that is transferred to memory. The word count register holds the number of words to be transferred. This register is decremented by one after each word transfer and internally tested for zero. The control register specifies the mode of transfer. All registers in the DMA appear to the CPU as I/O interface registers. Thus the CPU can read from or write into the DMA registers under program control via the data bus.

The DMA is first initialized by the CPU. After that, the DMA starts and continues to transfer data between memory and peripheral unit until an entire block is transferred. The initialization process is essentially a program consisting of I/0 instructions that include the address for selecting particular DMA registers. The CPU initializes the DMA by sending the following information through the data bus:

1. The starting address of the memory block where data are available (for read) or where data are to be stored (for write).

2. The word count, which is the number of words in the memory block

3. Control to specify the mode of transfer such as read or write

4. A control to start the DMA transfer

The starting address is stored in the address register. The word count is stored in the word count register and the control information in the control register. Once the DMA is initialized, the CPU stops communicating with the DMA unless it receives an interrupt signal or if it wants to check how many words have been transferred.

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