The Raspberry Pi has 16 DMA channels. Channels 1,3,6 and 7 are reserved for the GPU. Various sources indicate that channels 0 and 2 are also used by the system. SPI requires two channels, one for sending and one for receiving. I am using channels 13 and 14 for SPI DMA and so far have not encountered problems. These channels are "Lite" channels which have less capabilities than channels 0-7 but seem to be sufficient for SPI transfers
SPI DMA runs at at approximately 4 MHZ. Much to my surprise the input signal is continuous unlike the non-DMA signal which has a one clock cycle gap between bytes. A sample from my logic analyzer is shown below and comparing this signal with the raw data confirms that there are no gaps. This results in a substantial improvement in the data quality and I hope to implement MFM decoding support in the future.
|SPI DMA - Data on top, SPI clock on bottom. (Data signal inverted as I was recording from a different pin)|
|SPI without DMA. Note the gaps in the SPI clock signal where no data is recorded.|
This is a sequence of four FM data/clock pulses. The raw pulses are about 4-5 'bits' wide which corresponds to about 1 microsecond. The gaps between the raw pulses are about 12 bits wide which corresponds to about 3 microseconds. This closely matches the specifications of the original floppy disk controller on the TRS-80. The task of the software is to measure the spacing of the pulses and turn them into FM disk encoding. I am able to record copy-protected disks and run them on various emulators successfully.