Direct Memory Access (DMA) Data Transfer

Here we come with the discussion on direct memory access data transfer. In my early post I discussed on the topic “Programmed I/O Data Transfer scheme of 8085 microprocessor” and “Interrupt Driven I/O Data Transfer”. As we discussed earlier that in programmed I/O or interrupt driven I/O methods of data transfer between the I/O devices and external memory is via the accumulator. Now think for bulk data transfer from I/O devices to memory or vice-versa, these two methods discussed above are time consuming and quite uneconomical even though the speed of I/O devices matches with the speed of microprocessor. Because in those methods the data is first transferred to accumulator and then to concerned device.

To overcome those problem direct memory access data transfer method is introduced. The Direct Memory Access (DMA) data transfer method is used for bulk data transfer from I/O devices to microprocessor or vice-versa. In this method I/O devices are allowed to transfer the data directly to the external memory without being routed through accumulator. For this reason the microprocessor relinquishes the control over the data bus and address bus, so that these can be used for transfer of data between the devices.

Working principle of direct memory access data transfer

So now come to working principle of direct memory access data transfer. For the data transfer using DMA process, a request to the microprocessor in form of HOLD signal, by the I/O device is sent. When microprocessor receipt of such request, the microprocessor relinquishes the address and data buses and informs the I/O devices of the situation by sending Acknowledge signal HLDA. The I/O device withdraws the request when the data transfer between the I/O device and external memory is complete.

direct memory access data transfer

If we discuss in brief about working principal of DMA controller. Then we should mention that DMA controller is used with the microprocessor that helps to generate the addresses for the data to be transferred from the I/O devices. The peripheral device sends the request signal (DMARQ) to the DMA controller and the DMA controller in turn passes it to the microprocessor (HOLD signal). On receipt of the DMA request the microprocessor sends an acknowledge signal (HLDA) to the DMA controller. On receipt of this signal (HLDA) the DMA controller sends a DMA acknowledge signal (DMACK) to the I/O device. The DMA controller then takes over the control of the buses of microprocessor and controls the data transfer between RAM and I/O device. When the data transfer is complete, DMA controller returns the control over the buses to the microprocessor by disabling the HOLD and DMACK signals.

Now question is how many way DMA can work? It may be mentioned here that DMA transfer the data of the following types:

  • Memory to I/O device
  • I/O device to memory
  • Memory to memory
  • I/O device to I/O device

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