The DMAC can transfer data between memories and peripherals without interaction from the CPU. The data transferred by the DMAC are called transactions, and these transactions can be split into smaller data transfers. The following figure shows the relationship between the different transfer sizes:

Figure 1. DMA Transfer Sizes

A transfer descriptor describes how a block transfer should be carried out by the DMAC, and it must remain in SRAM. For further details on the transfer descriptor refer to Transfer Descriptors.

The figure above shows several block transfers linked together, which are called linked descriptors. For further information about linked descriptors, refer to Linked Descriptors.

A DMA transfer is initiated by an incoming transfer trigger on one of the DMA channels. This trigger can be configured to be either a software trigger, an event trigger, or one of the dedicated peripheral triggers. The transfer trigger will result in a DMA transfer request from the specific channel to the arbiter. If there are several DMA channels with pending transfer requests, the arbiter chooses which channel is granted access to become the active channel. The DMA channel granted access as the active channel will carry out the transaction as configured in the transfer descriptor. A current transaction can be interrupted by a higher prioritized channel, but will resume the block transfer when the according DMA channel is granted access as the active channel again.

For each beat transfer, an optional output event can be generated. For each block transfer, optional interrupts and an optional output event can be generated. When a transaction is completed, dependent of the configuration, the DMA channel will either be suspended or disabled.