ECE497 BeagleBone PRU

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thumb‎ Embedded Linux Class by Mark A. Yoder

Team members: Mark A. Yoder, Bryan Correll, Andrew Miller, Peter Ngo, James Popenhagen

Executive Summary

For this project, the objective is to explore the PRU of the BeagleBone, looking at both the limitations of implementation and how to implement tasks such as handling pulse width modulation. The project is more research intensive, as opposed to implementation intensive, and serves to bring together all of the sources found on the BeagleBone's PRU into one abbreviated document with examples of how to use it and the potential for extra projects. The ultimate goal here is to walk through step by step leading to the representation of a sinusoidal wave using pulse width modulation accessed from PRU and play the produced wave through a speaker.

As of now we have gathered information about the PRU, found memory locations that can be edited on the PRU and in C so that we can interact with functions outside of the PRU's capabilities, and implemented code on the PRU that simulates a pulse width modulation on a GPIO pin.

Give two sentences telling what isn't working.

  • Actual PWM implementation

End with a two sentence conclusion.

Installation Instructions

The Git Hub is on the following link:

Note: When implementing the pulse width modulation, you may want to bias the wave around 0V instead of 1.65V. If this is the case, you may want to use a summer circui which will require an Op-Amp, a 2kohm and 1kohm resistor, and 2 resistors of the same value (Higher values preferable for lower power consumption), which will need to be connected as shown where V1 is your pwm voltage, V2 is your -1.65V bias, and V3 is unused:

Non-Inverting Summer Circuit

Unless you desire a louder output than capable with simple I/O pins, there is no additional hardware needed.

User Instructions

Always run the following before doing anything with the PRU:

beagle$ modprobe uio_pruss

Finding Where to Access Things

There are many locations in memory that are needed to access specific I/O pins on the BeagleBone. Some of these I/O pins can be found here:

The following are not found in the file, but are good addresses to know when accessing MUXs:


memory location: gpmc_a2.gpio1_18 (0x44e10848/0x848 = 0x0027), b NA, t NA
signals: gpmc_a2 | gmii2_txd3 | rgmii2_td3 | mmc2_dat1 | gpmc_a18 | pr1_mii1_txd2 | ehrpwm1A | gpio1_18


memory location: gpmc_a3.gpio1_19 (0x44e1084c/0x84c = 0x0027), b NA, t NA
signals: gpmc_a3 | gmii2_txd2 | rgmii2_td2 | mmc2_dat2 | gpmc_a19 | pr1_mii1_txd1 | ehrpwm1B | gpio1_19


memory location: gpmc_ad8.gpio0_22 (0x44e10820/0x820 = 0x0027), b NA, t NA
signals: gpmc_ad8 | lcd_data23 | mmc1_dat0 | mmc2_dat4 | ehrpwm2A | pr1_mii_mt0_clk | NA | gpio0_22


memory location: gpmc_ad9.gpio0_23 (0x44e10824/0x824 = 0x0027), b NA, t NA
signals: gpmc_ad9 | lcd_data22 | mmc1_dat1 | mmc2_dat5 | ehrpwm2B | pr1_mii0_col | NA | gpio0_23

Building and Running the GPIO_PWM_PRU Example

This example is located in the GPIO_PWM_PRU directory in the AM335x_PRU_BeagleBone git repository, and can be pulled with the following:

git clone git://

This example uses the gpio and delay loops to approximate a PWM using the user LEDs on the BeagleBone. It is based on an example provided by Lyren Brown and documented by boxysean at

In GPIO_PWM_PRU all of the complicated Makefiles and directories used to make a multitude of examples at once have been stripped away to allow the user to compile one individual program that will run on the PRU.

The readme.txt file in the GPIO_PWM_PRU directory provides a walkthrough for compiling and running blinker on the BeagleBone.

The first step to compiling a program for the PRU is to make sure prussdrv.c is made and up to date. This is the file provided by TI that contains all of the C functions that allow for communication with the PRU. To do this, do the following:

cd <directory>/AM335x_PRU_BeagleBone/GPIO_PWM_PRU/interface

CROSS_COMPILE is specified as "" because this is running on the BeagleBone itself and the Makefile is setup to defaultly cross compile the code from another linux machine.

Once this is completed, the pasm_source must be set for the BeagleBone's linux operating system:

cd ../utils/pasm_source

Note: The above instructions need to be done for every time the BeagleBone boots up and these directories should be included with any code that you write for the PRU

Now, the BeagleBone is ready to compile the example code. Navigate to the example's root directory again:

cd ../../

This will compile the blinker.c file and output it to the bin folder. After this point, the assembly file needs to be compiled into a .bin file. This is done in the bin folder.

cd bin

Now, there should be a blinker.bin file in the folder. running the blinker executabile will put the blinker.bin file on the PRU and start it running. Use the following:


How the Assembly Code Works

//in the overview talk about the period being 5ns

Registers r5 and r6 are the duty_cycle and period respectively. The duty_cycle is a number smaller than the period that the accumulator r4 counts up to before setting the output to zero. When the r4 = period, r4 resets and the output is set to 1. This gives the following for for OnTime and OffTime.

SecondsPerCycle = 5*10^-9
OnCycles = 2 + (duty_cycle)*3 + 2
OffCycles = 2 + (period - duty_cycle)*3 - 1 + 2
TotalCycles = 7 + (period)*3

These equations can be used to create a very exact PWM output by setting duty_cycle and period to the values you wish to use. The code that was compiled and run above has a period of about a second and a duty cycle of about 50%.

There are a few macros defined at the beginning of the program. These macros are the location of GPIO1's memory space, the location of its set registers and the location of its clear registers. The BeagleBone's GPIO pins must be turned off and on using these two different memory locations. Setting the set register to 0 does not turn off its respective GPIO pin.

r2 stores the value that is going to be written to either set or clear gpio. r3 sores the address that r2 will be written to. within the first 3 lines of PWM_ON these values are set such that r2 will turn on the user LEDs. The instruction that actually turns it on is SBBO. This takes the value of r2 and writes it to memory location r3 with an offset of 0.

Here is a complete guide to the PRU's Assembly Instructions from TI

How the C Code Works

The blinker.c file is a direct port of the PRU initialization code from TI. Putting the two side by side, the only difference between the two is the name of the bin file that is used for the exec function.

The code first initializes the PRUSS by allocating memory for it using the prussdrv_init() function. It then initializes memory mapping for the PRU using the prussdrv_open() function. All of the intc functions are used for interrupt communication between the ARM and the PRU. This code is not utilized by the examples in this page. There is more information about using interrupts available in the Interrupts section below.

Similar to the exec function in C, the prussdrv_exec_program () function overlays the IRAM (Instruction RAM) portion of the PRUSS with the bin file that was created from blinker.p. The first field of prussdrv_exec_program needs a PRU number, which is either 0 or 1 depending on which PRU core is being used. In this case, PRU0 is executing blinker.bin. The second field is the path to the bin that will be put into the PRU's IRAM.

The next section waits on event 0 from the PRU to signal the C program that it has completed its execution. This, again, was not implemented, but writing the appropriate bit to the r31 register would cause the C program to continue. As it is, the program stalls at this point until SIGINT is received.

If the correct event were received, the next function is used to halt the PRU's execution then it would release the PRUSS clocks and disable the prussdrv module.

Sending an array to the PRU

The initialization code provided by TI has a handy function for passing an array to the PRU. Each of the PRU cores have an 8kb data ram associated with them, and that data space can be populated from an external C program. The next example will make use of this function to pass different PWM duty cycles to the PRU. This will be largely based around the following function:

 int prussdrv_pru_write_memory (unsigned int pru_ram_id, unsigned int wordoffset, unsigned int *memarea,  unsigned int bytelength); 

pru_ram_id can take on one of 4 values, and are as follows:


Here, each of the PRUs have both an Instruction RAM and a DATARAM section. DATARAM for PRU0 is found in the memory locations 0x0 - 0x2000, and DATARAM for PRU1 iis found in the memory locations 0x2000 - 0x4000.

wordoffset is an offset in words (4 bytes) from the base memory location, pru_ram_id.

memarea is a pointer to an array of unsigned ints (also 4 bytes) that will be passed onto the PRU.

bytelength is the number of bytes to write to the PRU.

For more information on using C to initialize the PRU visit TI's PRU Linux Application Loader API Guide

Building and Running the Sin_Approximation Example

This example uses a modified version of the GPIO_PWM_PRU example to change the duty cycle every period such that the average voltage approximates a sin wave. Navigate to the pwm_sin directory and take a look at the C code. Its nearly identical to the previous code except for a few small differences. The first difference is that it opens and edits two files to export GPIO0_7 turn it into an output.

The next change is that the prussdrv_pru_write_memory command discussed above is used to push an array containing duty cycles onto the DRAM for PRU0. The duty cycles are approximated using a the sin function from the math.h header file. Here is why:

---------------------------- = VCC*duty_percent
VCC*duty_percent = Va
Va = VCC*Sin(2*PI*f*t) 
VCC*duty_percent = VCC*sin(2*PI*f*t)
duty_percent = sin(2*PI*f*t)

Looking at the assembly code, we see a similar PWM control as before, but this time it is reading the duty cycles from memory. The coding to do this is a little more complicated, but because this is being run on PRU0, DRAM starts at 0x0.


Here is where you brag about what your project can do.

Include a YouTube demo.

Theory of Operation

Give a high level overview of the structure of your software. Are you using GStreamer? Show a diagram of the pipeline. Are you running multiple tasks? Show what they do and how they interact.

Work Breakdown


10/22: We should have all research done. Update documentation with every Milestone.

10/26: We should be able to show something, an example or simple implementation.

10/29: Ability to send different lengths to turn on an LEDs.

10/31: Ability to send different lengths to multiple LEDs.

11/2: We should be able to demo our overall work, possibly have some things to fix before presentation.

11/4: Finalize presentation

11/6: Presentation


Most of our research has come from internet resources listed below:

Future Work

Suggest addition things that could be done with this project.


Give some concluding thoughts about the project. Suggest some future additions that could make it even more interesting.

thumb‎ Embedded Linux Class by Mark A. Yoder