NDPluginDriver inherits from asynNDArrayDriver. NDPluginDriver is the class from which actual plugins are directly derived. The EPICS database NDArrayBase.template provides access to each of the parameters defined in asynNDArrayDriver, and the asynNDArrayDriver documentation describes that database. The NDPluginDriver class handles most of the details of processing NDArray callbacks from the driver. Plugins derived from this class typically need to implement the processCallbacks method, and one or more of the write(Int32, Float64, Octet) methods. The NDPluginDriver class documentation describes this class in detail.

NDPluginDriver defines parameters that all plugin drivers should implement if possible. These parameters are defined by strings (drvInfo strings in asyn) with an associated asyn interface, and access (read-only or read-write). The EPICS database NDPluginBase.template provides access to these standard plugin parameters, listed in the following table.

    Parameter Definitions in NDPluginDriver.h and EPICS Record Definitions in NDPluginBase.template
asyn interface Access Description drvInfo string EPICS record name EPICS record type
    Information about this plugin
asynOctet r/o A string describing the plugin type. PLUGIN_TYPE $(P)$(R)PluginType_RBV stringin
    asyn NDArray driver doing callbacks to this plugin
asynOctet r/w asyn port name for NDArray driver that will make callbacks to this plugin. This port can be changed at run time, connecting the plugin to a different NDArray driver. NDARRAY_PORT $(P)$(R)NDArrayPort, (P)$(R)NDArrayPort_RBV stringout, stringin
asynInt32 r/w asyn port address for NDArray driver that will make callbacks to this plugin. This address can be changed at run time, connecting the plugin to a different address in the NDArray driver. NDARRAY_ADDR $(P)$(R)NDArrayAddress, $(P)$(R)NDArrayAddress_RBV longout, longin
    Queue size and status
asynInt32 r/w The total queue size for callbacks when BlockingCallbacks=0. This can be changed at run time to increase or decrease the size of the queue and thus the buffering in this plugin. This changes the memory requirements of the plugin. When the queue size is changed the plugin temporarily stops the callbacks from the input driver and waits for all NDArrays currently in the queue to process. QUEUE_SIZE $(P)$(R)QueueSize, $(P)$(R)QueueSize_RBV longout, longin
asynInt32 r/o The number of free queue elements. This record goes into minor alarm when the queue is 75% full and major alarm when the queue is 100% full. QUEUE_FREE $(P)$(R)QueueFree longin
N/A r/o The number of used queue elements. N/A $(P)$(R)QueueUse calc
    Number of threads
asynInt32 r/o The maximum number of threads that this plugin is allowed to use. This is defined when the plugin is created, and cannot be changed at run-time. Note that some plugins are not thread-safe for multiple threads running in the same plugin object, and these must force MaxThreads=1. MAX_THREADS $(P)$(R)MaxThreads_RBV longin
asynInt32 r/w The number of threads to use for this plugin. The value must be between 1 and MaxThreads. NUM_THREADS $(P)$(R)NumThreads, $(P)$(R)NumThreads_RBV longout, longin
asynInt32 r/w Selects whether the plugin outputs NDArrays in the order in which they arrive (Unsorted=1) or sorted by UniqueId (Sorted=1). SORT_MODE $(P)$(R)SortMode, $(P)$(R)SortMode_RBV mbbo, mbbi
asynFloat64 r/w Sets the minimum time that the plugin will wait for preceeding arrays to arrive before outputting array N when SortMode=Sorted. SORT_TIME $(P)$(R)SortTime, $(P)$(R)SortTime_RBV ao, ai
asynInt32 r/w The maximum allowed size of the std::multiset. This can be changed at run time to increase or decrease the size of the queue and thus the buffering in this plugin. This changes the memory requirements of the plugin. SORT_SIZE $(P)$(R)SortSize, $(P)$(R)SortSize_RBV longout, longin
asynInt32 r/o The number of NDArrays remaining before the std::multiset will not be allowed to grow larger and the plugin may begin to drop output frames. SORT_FREE $(P)$(R)SortFree longin
asynInt32 r/w The number of NDArrays that have been output in the “wrong” order. The definition of the wrong order for NDArray[N] is that NDArray[N].uniqueId=NDArray[N-1].uniqueId or NDArray[N].uniqueId=NDArray[N-1].uniqueId+1. The reason for the equality test is explained above. DISORDERED_ARRAYS $(P)$(R)DisorderedArrays, $(P)$(R)DisorderedArrays_RBV longout, longin
asynInt32 r/w Counter that increments by 1 each time an NDArray callback occurs when SortMode=1 and the std::multiset is full (SortFree=0), so the NDArray cannot be added to the std::multiset. DROPPED_OUTPUT_ARRAYS $(P)$(R)DroppedOutputArrays, $(P)$(R)DroppedOutputArrays_RBV longout, longin
    Callback enable, throttling, and statistics
asynInt32 r/w Enable (1) or disable (0) callbacks from the driver to this plugin. If callbacks are disabled then the plugin will normally be idle and consume no CPU resources. When disabling the plugin it will continue to process any NDArrays that are already in the queue. ENABLE_CALLBACKS $(P)$(R)EnableCallbacks, $(P)$(R)EnableCallbacks_RBV bo, bi
asynInt32 r/w 0 = callbacks from the driver do not block; the NDArray data is put on a queue and the callback processes in one of the plugin threads. , 1 = callbacks from the driver block; the callback processes in the driver callback thread. BLOCKING_CALLBACKS $(P)$(R)BlockingCallbacks, $(P)$(R)BlockingCallbacks_RBV bo, bi
asynInt32 r/w NDPluginDriver maintains a pointer to the last NDArray that the plugin received. If the ProcessPlugin record is processed then the plugin runs again using this same NDArray. This can be used to change the plugin parameters and observe the effects on downstream plugins and image viewers without requiring the underlying detector to collect another NDArray. When the plugin is disabled the cached NDArray is released back to the NDArrayPool. PROCESS_PLUGIN $(P)$(R)ProcessPlugin bo
asynFloat64 r/o The execution time when the plugin processes. This is useful for measuring the performance of the plugin EXECUTION_TIME $(P)$(R)ExecutionTime_RBV ai
asynFloat64 r/w The minimum time in seconds between calls to processCallbacks. Any callbacks occuring before this minimum time has elapsed will be ignored. 0 means no minimum time, i.e. process all callbacks. MIN_CALLBACK_TIME $(P)$(R)MinCallbackTime, $(P)$(R)MinCallbackTime_RBV ao, ai
asynFloat64 r/w The maximum data output rate in bytes/s. If the output rate would exceed this then the output array is dropped and DroppedOutputArrays is incremented. This can be useful, for example, to limit the network bandwidth from a plugin. For most plugins this logic is implemented in NDPluginDriver::endProcessCallbacks() when the plugin is finishing its operation and is doing callbacks to any downstream plugins. However, the NDPluginPva and NDPluginStdArrays plugins are treated differently because the output we generally want to throttle is not the NDArray passed to downstream plugins, but rather the size of the output for the pvaServer (NDPluginPva) or the size of the arrays passed back to device support for waveform records (NDPluginStdArrays). For these plugins the throttling logic is thus also implemented inside the plugin. If these plugins are throttled then they really do no useful work, and so ArrayCounter is not incremented. This makes the ArrayRate reflect the rate at which the plugin is actually doing useful work. For NDPluginStdArrays this is also important because clients (e.g. ImageJ) may monitor the ArrayCounter_RBV field to decide when to read the array and update the display. MAX_BYTE_RATE $(P)$(R)MaxByteRate, $(P)$(R)MaxByteRate_RBV ao, ai
asynInt32 r/w Counter that increments by 1 each time an NDArray callback occurs when NDPluginDriverBlockingCallbacks=0 and the plugin driver queue is full, so the callback cannot be processed. DROPPED_ARRAYS $(P)$(R)DroppedArrays, $(P)$(R)DroppedArrays_RBV longout, longin
    Debugging control
N/A N/A N/A $(P)$(R)AsynIO asyn

Sorting of output NDArrays

When using a plugin with multiple threads, or when the input plugin is NDPluginGather it is likely that the NDArray output will be slightly out of order, i.e. NDArray::uniqueId fields will not be monotonically increasing. This is because the threads are running asynchronously and at slightly different speeds. As a consequence a file plugin downstream of this plugin would write NDArrays to the file in the “wrong” order. Plugins have an option to sort the NDArrays by uniqueId to attempt to output them in the correct order. This sorting option is enabled by setting SortMode=Sorted, and works using the following algorithm:

  • An std::multiset object is created to store the NDArray output pointers as they are received in NDArrayDriver::doNDArrayCallbacks. This is the method that all derived classes must call to output NDArrays to downstream plugins. This std::multiset also stores the time at which each NDArray was received by the NDArrayDriver::doNDArrayCallbacks method. This multiset is automatically sorted by the uniqueId of each NDArray.
  • A worker thread is created which processes at the time interval specified by SortTime. This thread outputs the next array (NDArray[N]) in the multiset if any of the following are true:
    • NDArray[N].uniqueId = NDArray[N-1].uniqueId. This allows for the case where multiple upstream plugins are processing the same NDArray. This may happen, for example, if NDPluginGather is being used and not all of its inputs are getting their NDArrays from from NDPluginScatter.
    • NDArray[N].uniqueId = NDArray[N-1].uniqueId + 1. This is the normal case.
    • NDArray[N] has been in the multiset for longer than SortTime. This will be the case if the next array that <i>should</i> have been output has not arrived, perhaps because it has been dropped by some upstream plugin and will never arrive. Increasing the SortTime will allow longer for out of order arrays to arrive, at the expense of more memory because the multiset will grow larger before outputting the arrays.

When NDArrays are added to the multiset they have their reference count increased, and so will still be consuming memory. The multiset is limited in size to SortSize. If the multiset would grow larger than this because arrays are arriving faster than they are being removed with the specified SortTime, then they will be dropped in the same manner as when NDArrays are dropped from the normal input queue. In this case DroppedOutputArrays will be incremented. Note that because NDArrays can be stored in both the normal input queue and the multiset the total memory potentially used by the plugin is determined by both QueueSize and SortSize. If the plugin is receiving 500 NDArrays/s (2 ms period), and the maximum time the plugin threads require to execute is 20 msec, then the minimum value of SortTime should be 0.02 sec, and the minimum value of SortSize would be 10. It is a good idea to add a safety margin to these values, so perhaps SortSize=50 and SortTime=0.04 sec.