Using the I2C-Stub to Emulate a Device


The i2c-stub module is a fake I2C/SMBus driver. This post demonstrates how to use this module to emulate a device.

Pre-requisites

  • a copy of the kernel source
  • have i2c-tools installed1; we’re going to utilize i2cset from there.
  • specify a target chip driver, in this demo we’ll use drivers/iio/light/al3320a
  • any documentation2 about the target chip driver, this could be the source code, a datasheet or any other material where you can find the addresses needed by i2c-stub and i2cset.
  • knowledge about configuring and installing a kernel from source

Setting it up

Compile and install your copy of the kernel source. Make sure to configure the i2c-stub and the target chip driver as a module.

make menuconfig

Device Drivers -> I2C support -> I2C/SMBus Test Stub

Next, we need to find the addresses required by the i2c-stub module and i2cset. The i2c-stub needs the I2C slave address. On our target driver, it can be found on the header of the source code which is 0x1C. For i2cset, we need the addresses of registers supported by the driver for read and write. We’ll be using these addresses (also taken from the source code):

#define AL3320A_REG_CONFIG_RANGE 0x07

This is where the scale can be read or written from. I’ll explain the meaning of scale in a future post.

#define AL3320A_REG_DATA_LOW 0x22

Data from the device can be read from here. This register in particular corresponds to the low byte of the device’s output.

Usage

From the i2c-stub documentation, usage is as follows:

load the i2c-stub module.

$ modprobe i2c-stub chip_addr=0x1c

Use the slave address noted in the previous section to specify the chip_addr module parameter required in loading i2c-stub

use i2cset to pre-load some data on the addresses found earlier.

$ i2cset 4 0x1C 0x07 0x04 b

$ i2cset 4 0x1C 0x22 0x64 w

i2cset is used to set the I2C registers. The first parameter passed refers to the number of the I2C bus associated with i2c-stub. This number can be noted by executing the i2cdetect -l command. The second parameter is the slave address while the third parameter correspond to the register address noted previously.

The last two parameters refer to the value to write and the write size. The man page explains all these in detail if you want to know more.

load the target chip driver module.

This is accomplished by executing the following command:

$ echo al3320a 0x1c > /sys/class/i2c-adapter/i2c-4/new_device

The name of the target driver and its slave address were used to instantiate3 the device.

observe its behavior in the kernel log.

You may use dmesg for this.

See it in Action

Here’s a full terminal session for demonstration:

$ whoami
root
$ modprobe i2c-stub chip_addr=0x1c
$ dmesg | tail
[10055.535293] i2c-stub: Virtual chip at 0x1c
$ i2cdetect -l
i2c-3	i2c       	DPDDC-D                         	I2C adapter
i2c-1	i2c       	i915 gmbus dpb                  	I2C adapter
i2c-4	smbus     	SMBus stub driver               	SMBus adapter
i2c-2	i2c       	i915 gmbus dpd                  	I2C adapter
i2c-0	i2c       	i915 gmbus dpc                  	I2C adapter
$ i2cset 4 0x1C 0x07 0x04 b
WARNING! This program can confuse your I2C bus, cause data loss and worse!
I will write to device file /dev/i2c-4, chip address 0x1c, data address
0x07, data 0x04, mode byte.
Continue? [Y/n] Y
$ i2cset 4 0x1C 0x22 0x64 w
WARNING! This program can confuse your I2C bus, cause data loss and worse!
I will write to device file /dev/i2c-4, chip address 0x1c, data address
0x22, data 0x64, mode word.
Continue? [Y/n] Y
$ dmesg | tail
[10055.535293] i2c-stub: Virtual chip at 0x1c
[10269.063197] i2c i2c-4: smbus byte data - addr 0x1c, wrote 0x04 at 0x07.
[10291.972838] i2c i2c-4: smbus word data - addr 0x1c, wrote 0x0064 at 0x22.
$ echo al3320a 0x1c > /sys/class/i2c-adapter/i2c-4/new_device
$ dmesg | tail
[10055.535293] i2c-stub: Virtual chip at 0x1c
[10269.063197] i2c i2c-4: smbus byte data - addr 0x1c, wrote 0x04 at 0x07.
[10291.972838] i2c i2c-4: smbus word data - addr 0x1c, wrote 0x0064 at 0x22.
[10383.427685] i2c i2c-4: new_device: Instantiated device al3320a at 0x1c
[10383.437720] i2c i2c-4: smbus byte data - addr 0x1c, wrote 0x01 at 0x00.
[10383.437720] i2c i2c-4: smbus byte data - addr 0x1c, wrote 0x04 at 0x07.
[10383.437721] i2c i2c-4: smbus byte data - addr 0x1c, wrote 0x04 at 0x09.
[10383.437722] i2c i2c-4: smbus byte data - addr 0x1c, wrote 0x00 at 0x06.
$ ls /sys/bus/iio/devices/iio:device0/
dev		    in_illuminance_scale	    name   subsystem
in_illuminance_raw  in_illuminance_scale_available  power  uevent
$ cat /sys/bus/iio/devices/iio:device0/name
al3320a
$ cat /sys/bus/iio/devices/iio:device0/in_illuminance_scale_available
0.512 0.128 0.032 0.01
$ cat /sys/bus/iio/devices/iio:device0/in_illuminance_scale
0.032000
$ echo 0.512 > /sys/bus/iio/devices/iio:device0/in_illuminance_scale
$ cat /sys/bus/iio/devices/iio:device0/in_illuminance_scale
0.512000
$ cat /sys/bus/iio/devices/iio:device0/in_illuminance_raw
100
$ modprobe -r i2c-stub

Wrapping Up

The sysfs attributes associated with al3320a can now be seen after instantiating the device. It’s as if you had plugged the actual hardware in there! Amazing, isn’t it? This leads to an interesting use-case for i2c-stub which is for testing the code without the actual device.

In the previous section, I tried reading and writing on the exposed attributes and they work as expected. The value I specified for the data4 register reads correctly and the scale can be written and read without issue.

That’s it! Thanks for reading!


  1. Can be obtained via the lm-sensors site or through this cloned repository

  2. We need to know the chip address of the target as well as register addresses you need to read/write from. 

  3. Instantiating from user-space 

  4. 0x64 - a hex value is 100 in decimal notation.