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    0.1.3 • Public • Published

    Access the Programmable Realtime Units (PRUs) of the BeagleBone from Node.js

    This module allows you to interface your Node.js code with programs executing on the BeagleBones Programmable Realtime Units (PRUs). The BeagleBone has 2 PRUs which are separate to the main CPU and run at 200MHz with access to 16 GPIOs each. The benefits of executing code on the PRU are guaranteed realtime execution (outside of the OS) with no load on the primary CPU. The PRUs are coded in TIs own assembly instruction set and can communicate with code running within the OS via interrupts and shared memory space.

    This README aims to be a complete guide to setting up the PRUs and using them from Node.js, however this code is mostly built on the AM335x_PRU Drivers, the Python PRU bindings and the BBB PRU setup guide. Refer to these sources for more information about the PRUs.


    The PRU system is supported on both the BeagleBone and BeagleBone Black. This README is written for the BeagleBone Black (BBB) running Ubuntu. Instructions for the BealgeBone (white) and Angstrom may differ slightly.

    Kernel Module

    The uio_pruss kernel module must be loaded before any work can commence. This module is present in the default Ubuntu build (and probably many more), but is not loaded by default. Load the module with

    modprobe uio_pruss

    And to avoid the need to do this in the future (the drivers tend to seg fault if you forget!), add the module to the end of /etc/modules.

    Device Tree

    The most difficult part of setting up the PRUs on the BBB involves setting up the device tree. The instructions here are pretty easy to follow. What follows is what I did to enable PRU0 and set pins 25, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31 of the P9 expansion header to outputs. I did not use the device tree overlay approach as I am simply building a custom image, the approach I used is quicker but less portable.

    Firstly, get hold of the sourcecode for the BBB device tree (details here)

    tar xvzf blackdts.tgz
    cd blackdts

    Now install the device-tree-compiler. On Ubuntu, do this with

    sudo apt-get install device-tree-compiler

    Next, open up am335x-bone-common.dtsi. In the section named am33xx_pinmux: pinmux@44e10800 add the following to set the pinmuxing

    pruicss_pins: pinmux_pruicss_pins {
    	pinctrl-single,pins = <
    		0x190 0x05	/* P9_31 to PRU output */
    		0x194 0x05	/* P9_29 to PRU output */
    		0x198 0x05	/* P9_30 to PRU output */
    		0x19C 0x05	/* P9_28 to PRU output */
    		0x1A4 0x05	/* P9_27 to PRU output */
    		0x1AC 0x05	/* P9_25 to PRU output */

    Then to enable PRU0, add the following to the ocp: ocp section

    pruss: pruss@4a300000 {
    	status = "okay";
    	pinctrl-names = "default";
    	pinctrl-0 = <&pruicss_pins>;

    Save and close the file, compile it with

    dtc -O dtb -o am335x-boneblack.dtb -b 0 am335x-boneblack.dts

    Finally, backup your old binary and replace it with the one you just compiled

    sudo mv /boot/uboot/dtbs/am335x-boneblack.dtb /boot/uboot/dtbs/am335x-boneblack.orig.dtb
    sudo mv am335x-boneblack.dtb /boot/uboot/dtbs/

    After a reboot, PRU0 will be enabled and the pinmuxing set.

    Driver library and assembler

    Get the driver and assembler code

    git clone
    cd am335x_pru_package

    Apply the following patch to prevent interrupts being fired twice by the driver

    tar -xzf attachments.tar.gz
    patch -p1 <  0001-Fix-for-duplicated-interrupts-when-interrupts-are-se.patch 

    Compile the driver as a shared library (don't use make, this builds a static library which node-gyp does not like!)

    cd pru_sw/app_loader/interface/
    gcc -I. -Wall -I../include   -c -fPIC -O3 -mtune=cortex-a8 -march=armv7-a -shared -o prussdrv.o prussdrv.c
    gcc -shared -o prussdrv.o

    Copy the driver and headers to system folders

    sudo cp /usr/lib/
    sudo cp ../include/*.h /usr/include/

    Now build the assember

    cd ../../utils/pasm_source

    Copy the assembler to system

    sudo cp ../pasm /usr/bin/

    Finally, test the PRU system with one of the examples.

    cd ../../example_apps/PRU_memAccess_DDR_PRUsharedRAM

    Assemble the PRU code

    pasm -b PRU_memAccess_DDR_PRUsharedRAM.p

    This will generate the PRU binary PRU_memAccess_DDR_PRUsharedRAM.bin. Now compile the C code

    gcc PRU_memAccess_DDR_PRUsharedRAM.c -lprussdrv -lpthread -otest

    Run the example (must run as root to access the PRU)

    sudo ./test

    If all goes well you should see the following

    INFO: Starting PRU_memAccess_DDR_PRUsharedRAM example.
    		INFO: Initializing example.
    		INFO: Executing example.
    File ./PRU_memAccess_DDR_PRUsharedRAM.bin open passed
    		INFO: Waiting for HALT command.
    		INFO: PRU completed transfer.
    Example executed succesfully.

    Your system is now set up to use the PRU, now we can start using Node.JS


    To install the module simply type

    npm install pru



    A simple example is given in the examples folder, timing_test.js and timing_test.p. The example simply loops the PRU very quickly and prints the status of the countdown every second.

    First assemble the PRU code

    pasm -b timing_test.p

    Then run the example

    cd node_modules/pru/examples
    sudo node timing_test.js

    Remeber to run as root or you'll get a seg fault!

    Module description

    To include the module in your own code, simply use

    var pru = require('pru');

    Before you can do anything with the PRU you must initialise it with


    Execute a binary named "mycode.bin"


    Set the shared memory space to an array of integers ([0x1 0x2 0x3])

    pru.setSharedRAM([0x1 0x2 0x3]);

    And to set the 6th integer in the RAM to 0x10

    pru.setSharedRAMInt(5, 0x10);

    Get an array from the RAM, or the 4rd value

    var ramArray = pru.getSharedRAM();
    var ramElement = pru.getSharedRAMInt(3);

    Set a callback to fire when the PRU generates an interupt

    pru.waitForInterrupt(function() {
    	console.log("Interrupted by PRU");

    Interrupt PRU


    Terminate the PRU execution



    • Currently only PRU0 is supported
    • Only the Shared Memory space can be used for communication
    • The Shared Memory getters/setters are limited to integers




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