ASoC/ALSA Out of Memory Issue

Alex Roberts arob109 at
Tue Jul 27 23:05:17 EDT 2021

It get's -ENOMEM.. which appears to be returned by the imx-sdma driver
when it attempts to allocate memory with the dma_alloc_coherent(...)
function. This seems to get called through a chain of functions
starting back to pcm_dmaengine.c > snd_dmaengine_pcm_trigger(...),
under the SNDDRV_PCM_TRIGGER_START case which calls
dmaengine_pcm_prepare_and_submit(...)... then
dmaengine_prep_dma_cyclic(...).. which will call
device_prep_dma_cyclic(...). In my case, I'm running on an NXP
IMX8M-Quad, hence hte imx-sdma driver.


On Tue, Jul 27, 2021 at 11:26 AM Takashi Iwai <tiwai at> wrote:
> On Mon, 26 Jul 2021 17:07:52 +0200,
> Alex Roberts wrote:
> >
> > Hello,
> >
> > I am developing a dummy codec to interface with an 8-channel, 24-bit
> > ADC. I've got it working on an NXP imx8m through the fsl_sai driver on
> > kernel 5.4.85. I can capture all 8 channels at varying sample rates
> > using arecord, and I've verified correct data capture via opening the
> > resulting .wav file in Audacity. The problem I am having is that
> > occasionally, upon starting arecord - after a fresh power cycle - I
> > get an out of memory error. Other times I get an out of memory after a
> > non-deterministic period of capture. Starting capture again also
> > reports out of memory, but if I wait several minutes and start capture
> > it will start recording again. A power cycle usually helps, but as
> > stated earlier, not 100% of the time.
> Do you mean that application gets -ENOMEM error from API, or the
> system exhausts the memory?  The former is often some buffer
> management issue (e.g. the buffer perallocation didn't happen and yet
> the dynamic allocation failed), but the latter is rather about the
> memory leaks.
> Takashi
> > I'm trying to track down where the oom error is coming from, but
> > haven't had much luck. My colleague tried running arecord with
> > valgrind to check for memory leaks and nothing of note was observed.
> > My suspicion is there's something going on with allocated memory for
> > DMA, like fragmentation starts to happen and it can't get a contiguous
> > region for operation. Reserving a larger pool - either via device tree
> > or kernel cmdline arguments in the bootoader - did not seem to help.
> >
> > Another thought is that it's a boundary/alignment issue due to the
> > 24-bit data, and the error is the result of trying to allocate a chunk
> > of memory for DMA that doesn't align.
> >
> > I'm very new to ALSA dev with some exposure to kernel dev in general,
> > so please correct me if I'm wrong or completely mis-understanding
> > something.
> >
> > Any suggestions on where I should / how I can debug this memory error?
> >
> > Thanks,
> > Alex.
> >
> > PS: Previously sent this to just alsa-devel mailing list on 7/21, but
> > never saw it show up in the archives. Here is more info since then:
> >
> > The goal is 8-channel, 96k sampling rate. I've reduced sampling rate
> > and still have the issue. Reducing down to 4-channels helps, but
> > haven't tested long term enough to evaluate by how much.
> >
> > Narrowed it down to device_prep_dma_cyclic(..) returning NULL within
> > dmaengine_prep_dma_cyclic(..)..... still tracing through source to
> > learn exactly what is going on.
> >

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