Vanilla API

The Vanilla API is a small optional API which greatly simplifies the process of including a mic array unit in an application. Most applications that make use of a PDM mic array will not have complicated needs from the mic array software component beyond delivery of frames of audio data from a configurable set of microphones at a configurable rate. This API targets that majority of applications.

The prefab API requires the application developer to have at least some minimal understanding of the objects and classes associated with the mic array unit, and requires the developer to write some application-specific code to configure and start the mic array. The Vanilla API (which builds on top of the prefab model) by contrast, requires as little as two standard function calls, and instead moves the majority of the application logic into the application’s build project.

Why “Vanilla”? “Vanilla” was originally meant as a generic placeholder name, but as no better name was ever suggested, it stuck.

How It Works

The Vanilla API comprises two code files, etc/vanilla/mic_array_vanilla.cpp and etc/vanilla/mic_array_vanilla.h which are not compiled as part of this library. Instead, if used, these are added to the application target’s build. To control configuration, the source file relies on a set of pre-processor macros (added via compile flags) which determine how the mic array unit will be instantiated.

The API is included in an application by using a CMake macro (mic_array_vanilla_add()) provided in this library. The macro updates the application’s sources, includes and compile definitions to include the API.

In the application code, two function calls are needed. First, ma_vanilla_init() is called to initialize the various mic array sub-components, preparing for capture of PDM data. Then, to start capture the decimation thread is started with ma_vanilla_task() as entrypoint. ma_vanilla_task() takes an XCore chanend as a parameter, which tells it where completed audio frames should be routed.


The Vanilla API runs the PDM rx service as an interrupt in the decimation thread. To run it as a separate thread (for reduced total MIPS consumption) one of the lower-level APIs must be used.

As with the prefab API, audio frames are extracted from the mic array unit over a (non-streaming) channel using the ma_frame_rx() or ma_frame_rx_transpose() functions.


The Vanilla API uses the default filters provided with this library, and does not currently provide a way to override this. To use custom filters, you must either use a lower-level API or modify the vanilla API.


Configuration with the Vanilla API is achieved through compile definitions. The required definitions are provided through the mic_array_vanilla_add() macro. There are several additional optional definitions.


mic_array_vanilla_add() is the CMake macro used to add the Vanilla API to an application.

macro( mic_array_vanilla_add

The name of the application’s CMake target. It is the target the Vanilla API is added to.


The known frequency, in Hz, of the application’s master audio clock. A typical frequency is 24576000 Hz. Note that this parameter is not configuring the master audio clock. (Equivalent compile definition: MIC_ARRAY_CONFIG_MCLK_FREQ)


The desired frequency, in Hz, of the PDM clock. This should be an integer factor of MCLK_FREQ between 1 and 510 (TODO: confirm this upper bound). (Equivalent compile definition: MIC_ARRAY_CONFIG_PDM_FREQ)


The number of PDM microphone channels to be captured. This API supports values of 1 (SDR), 2 (DDR), 4 (SDR) and 8 (SDR/DDR). This value must match the configuration (SDR/DDR) and port width of the PDM capture port. That is, in an SDR port configuration, MIC_COUNT must equal the capture port width, and in DDR port configuration, MIC_COUNT must be twice the port width. (Equivalent compile definition: MIC_ARRAY_CONFIG_MIC_COUNT)


This API does not support capturing only a subset of the capture port’s channels, e.g. capturing only 3 channels on a 4-bit port. To accomplish this the prefab API should be used.


Though listed under Optional Configuration below, if the microphones are in a DDR configuration and MIC_COUNT is not 2, the application must also define MIC_ARRAY_CONFIG_USE_DDR.

SAMPLES_PER_FRAME is the number of samples (for each microphone channel) that will be delivered in each (non-overlapping) frame retrieved by ma_frame_rx(). A minimum value of 1 is supported, to deliver samples one at a time. The larger this value, the looser the real-time constraint on the thread receiving the mic array unit’s output (while also increasing the amount of audio data to be processed).

Optional Configuration

These are configuration parameters that receive default values but can be optionally overridden by an application. These can be defined in your application’s CMakeLists.txt using CMake’s built-in target_compile_definitions() command.


Indicates whether the microphones are arranged in an SDR (0) or DDR (1) configuration. An SDR configuration is one in which each port pin is connected to a single PDM microphone. A DDR configuration is one which each port pin is connected to two PDM microphoes. Defaults to 0 (SDR), unless MIC_ARRAY_CONFIG_MIC_COUNT is 2 in which case it defaults to 1 (DDR).


Indicates whether the DC offset elmination filter should be applied to the output of the decimator. Set to 0 to disable or 1 to enable. Defaults to 1 (filter on).

The next three parameters are the identifiers for hardware port resources used by the mic array unit. They can be specified as either the identifier listed in your device’s datasheet (e.g. XS1_PORT_1D) or as an alias fort he port listed in your application’s XN file (e.g. PORT_MCLK_IN_OUT). For example:

<Tile Number="0" Reference="tile[0]">
  <Port Location="XS1_PORT_1D"  Name="PORT_MCLK_IN_OUT"/>

Identifier of the 1-bit port on which the device is receiving the master audio clock. Defaults to PORT_MCK_IN_OUT.


Identifier of the 1-bit port on which the device will signal the PDM clock to the microphones. Defaults to PORT_PDM_CLK.


Identifier of the port on which the device will capture PDM sample data. The port width of this port must match the MIC_COUNT parameter given to mic_array_vanilla_add() and the value of MIC_ARRAY_CONFIG_USE_DDR. Defaults to PORT_PDM_DATA.

The final two parameters indicate which clock block resource(s) should be used to generate the PDM clock and the capture clock. An device provides 5 hardware clock blocks for application use, identified as XS1_CLKBLK_1 through XS1_CLKBLK_5. The device’s clock blocks are interchangeable, but if another component of your application uses one of these defaults, you may need to change these parametesr.


Clock block used as ‘clock A’ (see Getting Started). This clock block is used in both SDR and DDR configurations.


Clock block used as ‘clock B’ (see Getting Started). This clock block is only needed in DDR configurations and is ignored (not configured) in SDR configurations.