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GPIO state

The current state of the system's GPIOs can be obtained in user-mode, as shown in the following example:

root@imx6ul-var-dart:~# cat /sys/kernel/debug/gpio
GPIOs 0-31, platform/209c000.gpio, 209c000.gpio:
 gpio-10  (phy-reset           ) out lo    

GPIOs 32-63, platform/20a0000.gpio, 20a0000.gpio:

GPIOs 64-95, platform/20a4000.gpio, 20a4000.gpio:
 gpio-68  (ft5x06_irq_gpio     ) in  hi    

GPIOs 96-127, platform/20a8000.gpio, 20a8000.gpio:
 gpio-115 (2190000.usdhc cd    ) in  hi    
 gpio-116 (IDE Activity        ) out lo    
 gpio-117 (Heart Beat          ) out lo    

GPIOs 128-159, platform/20ac000.gpio, 20ac000.gpio:
 gpio-128 (phy-reset           ) out lo 

Each GPIO is defined as in or out and the state is shown as lo or hi.
For example pin 115 is the SD card card-detect. When an SD card is plugged in, the state will be:

 gpio-115 (2190000.usdhc cd    ) in  lo

When the SD card is removed, the state will be:

 gpio-115 (2190000.usdhc cd    ) in  hi

Manipulating GPIO using libgpiod

The Linux GPIO sysfs interface is being deprecated. Moving forward, user space should use the character device /dev/gpiochip* instead. libgpiod provides bindings and utilities for for manipulating GPIO via user space.

libgpiod via command line

libgpiod provides command line utilities for GPIO:

gpiodetect List all gpiochips present on the system, their names, labels and number of GPIO lines
gpioinfo List all lines of specified gpiochips, their names, consumers, direction, active state and additional flags
gpioget Read values of specified GPIO lines
gpioset Set values of specified GPIO lines, potentially keep the lines exported and wait until timeout, user input or signal
gpiofind Find the gpiochip name and line offset given the line name
gpiomon Wait for events on GPIO lines, specify which events to watch, how many events to process before exiting or if the events should be reported to the console

i.MX GPIOs are organized in banks of 32 pins. Each bank corresponds to a character device /dev/gpiochip<bank index>. The gpiodetect utility can be used to inspect the available gpiochip character devices:

# gpiodetect
gpiochip0 [30200000.gpio] (32 lines)
gpiochip1 [30210000.gpio] (32 lines)

The gpioinfo utility can be used to inspect the lines for a given gpiochip:

# gpioinfo gpiochip0
gpiochip0 - 32 lines:
        line   0:      unnamed    "spi_imx"  output  active-high [used]
        line   1:      unnamed       unused   input  active-high
        line   2:      unnamed       unused   input  active-high

The gpioset and gpioget utilities can be used to manipulate GPIO from the command line.

For example, assuming GPIO4_21 is configured as a GPIO in your device tree:

Set GPIO4_21 high:

gpioset gpiochip3 21=1

Set GPIO4_21 low:

gpioset gpiochip3 21=0

Read GPIO4_21:

gpioget gpiochip3 21

libgpiod C Application

libgpiod provides bindings for C/C++ applications. C++ examples are available in the libgpiod /tree/bindings/cxx/examples directory.

Below is a simple C application demonstrating how to use the bindings with GPIO4_IO21:


all: main.cpp
	$(CC) $(CCFLAGS) -Og -lgpiod main.c -g -o hello.bin
	rm -f hello.bin


#include <gpiod.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <string.h>

#define    CONSUMER    "Variscite Demo"

int main(int argc, char **argv)
    unsigned int i, ret, val;
    struct gpiod_chip *chip;
    struct gpiod_line *line;
    const char * chipname = "gpiochip3";
    const unsigned int line_num = 21;

    chip = gpiod_chip_open_by_name(chipname);
    if (!chip) {
        perror("Open chip failed\n");
        goto end;

    line = gpiod_chip_get_line(chip, line_num);
    if (!line) {
        perror("Get line failed\n");
        goto close_chip;

    ret = gpiod_line_request_output(line, CONSUMER, 0);
    if (ret < 0) {
        perror("Request line as output failed\n");
        goto release_line;

    /* Blink 5 times */
    val = 0;
    for (i = 0; i < 5; i++) {
        ret = gpiod_line_set_value(line, val);
        if (ret < 0) {
            perror("Set line output failed\n");
            goto release_line;
        printf("Output %u on line #%u\n", val, line_num);
        val = !val;

    return 0;

libgpiod Python Application

libgpiod provides bindings for python applications:

# pip3 install gpiod

Python examples are available in the libgpiod /tree/bindings/python/examples directory.

Manipulating a single GPIO via /sys/class/gpio

Using a command line or a script

GPIOs in i.MX are grouped in groups of 32 pins.
For example, GPIO1_3 belong to the first group, pin 3. Its absolute number will be 3.
GPIO4_21 will be (4-1)*32+21=117.
Assuming this GPIO is defined in your device tree, the following is an example of how to use it from userspace.

To export the GPIO for userspace use:

$ echo 117 > /sys/class/gpio/export

To configure as output:

$ echo out > /sys/class/gpio/gpio117/direction

Set GPIO high:

$ echo 1 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio117/value

Set GPIO low:

$ echo 0 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio117/value

To configure as input:

$ echo in > /sys/class/gpio/gpio117/direction

Read the current value:

$ cat /sys/class/gpio/gpio117/value

To free the GPIO after you're done using it:

$ echo 117 > /sys/class/gpio/unexport

Using a C application

All of the command line operations above can be translated to C code:
Reserve (export) the GPIO:

#define IMX_GPIO_NR(port, index)    ((((port)-1)*32)+((index)&31))

int fd;
char buf[MAX_BUF]; 
int gpio = IMX_GPIO_NR(4, 21); /* Just an example */

fd = open("/sys/class/gpio/export", O_WRONLY);

sprintf(buf, "%d", gpio); 

write(fd, buf, strlen(buf));


Set the GPIO direction:

sprintf(buf, "/sys/class/gpio/gpio%d/direction", gpio);

fd = open(buf, O_WRONLY);

/* Set out direction */
write(fd, "out", 3); 
/* Set in direction */
write(fd, "in", 2); 


In case of out direction set the GPIO value:

sprintf(buf, "/sys/class/gpio/gpio%d/value", gpio);

fd = open(buf, O_WRONLY);

/* Set GPIO high status */
write(fd, "1", 1); 
/* Set GPIO low status */
write(fd, "0", 1); 


In case of in direction get the current GPIO value:

char value;

sprintf(buf, "/sys/class/gpio/gpio%d/value", gpio);

fd = open(buf, O_RDONLY);

read(fd, &value, 1);

if (value == '0') { 
     /* Current GPIO status low */
} else {
     /* Current GPIO status high */


Once finished, free (unexport) the GPIO:

fd = open("/sys/class/gpio/unexport", O_WRONLY);

sprintf(buf, "%d", gpio);

write(fd, buf, strlen(buf));


Important notes:

  • Remember that after the first read operation the file pointer will move to the next position in the file, so to get a correct value for each read operation you simply have to set the file pointer at the beginning of the file before read by using the following command:
lseek(fd, 0, SEEK_SET);
  • This is only a short example. If you want to use it in your code remember add error handling to it.

Kernel Device Tree GPIO configuration

Device Tree GPIO files

Pin Func files

In the directory arch/arm/boot/dts/ of the Linux kernel source you will find the pin functions definitions files.
The relevant file is imx6ul-pinfunc.h.
If you edit it and search for GPIO4_IO24, for example, you will see a group of definitions with same prefix (pad name), "MX6UL_PAD_CSI_DATA03".

#define	MX6UL_PAD_CSI_DATA03__CSI_DATA05                         	0x01F0 0x047C 0x04CC 0 0
#define	MX6UL_PAD_CSI_DATA03__USDHC2_DATA3                       	0x01F0 0x047C 0x0688 1 0
#define	MX6UL_PAD_CSI_DATA03__SIM2_PORT1_PD                      	0x01F0 0x047C 0x0000 2 0
#define	MX6UL_PAD_CSI_DATA03__ECSPI2_MISO                        	0x01F0 0x047C 0x0548 3 0
#define	MX6UL_PAD_CSI_DATA03__EIM_AD03                           	0x01F0 0x047C 0x0000 4 0
#define	MX6UL_PAD_CSI_DATA03__GPIO4_IO24                         	0x01F0 0x047C 0x0000 5 0
#define	MX6UL_PAD_CSI_DATA03__SAI1_RX_BCLK                       	0x01F0 0x047C 0x0000 6 0
#define	MX6UL_PAD_CSI_DATA03__UART5_DCE_CTS                      	0x01F0 0x047C 0x0000 8 0
#define	MX6UL_PAD_CSI_DATA03__UART5_DTE_RTS                      	0x01F0 0x047C 0x0640 8 0

Adding only the one with the GPIO4_IO24 suffix (function) to your dts file will let you use the pin as GPIO.


Almost all of the pad declarations are shared among iMX6ULZ, iMX6ULL and iMX6UL based SoMs.
However there's is a subset of 12 PADs, providing the GPIO5 pins (the only ones available as wakeup sources) that are SoC specific:

  • BOOT_MODEx (x=0,1)
  • SNVS_TAMPERx (x=0,1,..,9)

For iMX6UL, these pads are declared at the beginning of arch/arm/boot/dts/imx6ul-pinfunc.h header file.
For iMX6ULL and iMX6ULZ, these pads are declared in the arch/arm/boot/dts/imx6ull-pinfunc-snvs.h header file.
In order to avoid breaking the device tree compatibility among iMX6ULZ, iMX6ULL and iMX6UL based SoMs, whenever you plan to use these GPIOs, carefully handle them within the right dtsi file.
GPIO5 pins can be safely declared in

  • imx6ul: any imx6ul-var-xxx.dtsi file
  • imx6ull: any imx6ull-var-xxx.dtsi file
  • imx6ulz: any imx6ulz-var-xxx.dtsi file

Variscite dts files

Device Tree Name
SOM type
CPU type
Carrier Board type
LCD Type
Evaluation Kit name
imx6ul-var-dart.dtsi DART-6UL iMX6UL VAR-6ULCustomBoard Capacitive/ touch VAR-STK-6UL
imx6ull-var-dart.dtsi DART-6UL iMX6ULL VAR-6ULCustomBoard Capacitive/ touch VAR-STK-6UL
imx6ulz-var-dart.dtsi DART-6UL iMX6ULZ VAR-6ULCustomBoard N/A VAR-STK-6UL
imx6ul-imx6ull-var-dart-6ulcustomboard.dtsi DART-6UL iMX6UL/iMX6ULL/iMX6ULZ VAR-6ULCustomBoard Capacitive/ touch VAR-STK-6UL
imx6ul-var-som.dtsi VAR-SOM-6UL iMX6UL ConcertoBoard Capacitive/ touch VAR-STK-VS6UL
imx6ull-var-som.dtsi VAR-SOM-6UL iMX6ULL ConcertoBoard Capacitive/ touch VAR-STK-VS6UL
imx6ulz-var-som.dtsi VAR-SOM-6UL iMX6ULZ ConcertoBoard N/A VAR-STK-VS6UL
imx6ul-imx6ull-var-som-concerto-board.dtsi VAR-SOM-6UL iMX6UL/iMX6ULL/iMX6ULZ ConcertoBoard Capacitive/ touch VAR-STK-VS6UL

For example, imx6ul-var-dart.dtsi starts with definitions and including dtsi files.

#include <dt-bindings/input/input.h>
#include "imx6ul.dtsi"

The imx6ul.dtsi define the CPU platform and which pinfunc file will be included. This feature allow the pin name to be agnostic to the CPU type.
Variscite defines dts file for each SoM / board / boot combination.
The WIFI and SCDARD share the same MMC interface. So only one of them can be activated at a time.
The NAND and eMMC share the same interface I/O. So only one of them can be activated at a time.
For the detailed list, you can refer to the Build_Results section.

Define a pin as GPIO in the kernel Device Tree

You need to add the relevant definitions to your device tree, as explained in the Pin Func files section above.
Edit arch/arm/boot/dts/imx6ul-var-dart.dts and add the definition for the GPIO you need in the section below.

	pinctrl-names = "default";
	pinctrl-0 = <&pinctrl_hog>;

	pinctrl-0 = <&pinctrl_hog_1>;
	imx6ul-evk {
		pinctrl_hog_1: hoggrp-1 {
			fsl,pins = <
				MX6UL_PAD_CSI_HSYNC__GPIO4_IO20		0x1b0b0 /* Led 1 */
				MX6UL_PAD_CSI_DATA00__GPIO4_IO21	0x1b0b0 /* Led 2 */
				MX6UL_PAD_GPIO1_IO00__GPIO1_IO00	0x17059	/* User Button */
				MX6UL_PAD_GPIO1_IO07__ENET2_MDC		0x1b0b0
				MX6UL_PAD_GPIO1_IO06__ENET2_MDIO	0x1b0b0
				MX6UL_PAD_SNVS_TAMPER4__GPIO5_IO04	0x1b0b0	/* BT Enable */

Device Tree GPIO attribute

If you look at Documentation/devicetree/bindings/pinctrl/fsl,imx6ul-pinctrl.txt in the Linux kernel source tree, the number to the right of the pin control spec can be used for additional attributes like pull-ups, pull-downs, keepers, drive strength, etc.
The value 0x80000000 is "don't know value please use the default". Else use the table below to set it to the required value.

CONFIG bits definition
(1 << 16) PAD_CTL_HYS
(0 << 14) PAD_CTL_PUS_100K_DOWN
(1 << 14) PAD_CTL_PUS_47K_UP
(2 << 14) PAD_CTL_PUS_100K_UP
(3 << 14) PAD_CTL_PUS_22K_UP
(1 << 13) PAD_CTL_PUE
(1 << 12) PAD_CTL_PKE
(1 << 11) PAD_CTL_ODE
(1 << 3) PAD_CTL_DSE_240ohm
(2 << 3) PAD_CTL_DSE_120ohm
(3 << 3) PAD_CTL_DSE_80ohm
(4 << 3) PAD_CTL_DSE_60ohm
(5 << 3) PAD_CTL_DSE_48ohm
(6 << 3) PAD_CTL_DSE_40ohm
(7 << 3) PAD_CTL_DSE_34ohm