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SubjectRe: perf events ring buffer memory barrier on powerpc
On Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 11:59:21AM +0200, Victor Kaplansky wrote:
> "Paul E. McKenney" <> wrote on 10/31/2013
> 06:32:58 AM:
> > If you want to play the "omit memory barriers" game, then proving a
> > negative is in fact the task before you.
> Generally it is not fair. Otherwise, anyone could put an smp_mb() at a
> random place, and expect others to "prove" that it is not needed.
> It is not fair also because it should be virtually impossible to prove lack
> of any problem. OTH, if a problem exists, it should be easy for proponents
> of a memory barrier to build a test case or design a scenario demonstrating
> the problem.

I really don't care about "fair" -- I care instead about the kernel
working reliably.

And it should also be easy for proponents of removing memory barriers to
clearly articulate what orderings their code does and does not need.

> Actually, advocates of the memory barrier in our case do have an argument -
> - the rule of thumb saying that barriers should be paired. I consider this
> rule only as a general recommendation to look into potentially risky
> places.
> And indeed, in our case if the store to circular wasn't conditional, it
> would require a memory barrier to prevent the store to be performed before
> the read of @tail. But in our case the store is conditional, so no memory
> barrier is required.

You are assuming control dependencies that the C language does not
provide. Now, for all I know right now, there might well be some other
reason why a full barrier is not required, but the "if" statement cannot
be that reason.

Please review section 1.10 of the C++11 standard (or the corresponding
section of the C11 standard, if you prefer). The point is that the
C/C++11 covers only data dependencies, not control dependencies.

> > And the correctness of this code has been called into question. :-(
> > An embarrassingly long time ago -- I need to get this either proven
> > or fixed.
> I agree.

Glad we agree on something!

> > Before C/C++11, the closest thing to such a prohibition is use of
> > volatile, for example, ACCESS_ONCE(). Even in C/C++11, you have to
> > use atomics to get anything resembing this prohibition.
> >
> > If you just use normal variables, the compiler is within its rights
> > to transform something like the following:
> >
> > if (a)
> > b = 1;
> > else
> > b = 42;
> >
> > Into:
> >
> > b = 42;
> > if (a)
> > b = 1;
> >
> > Many other similar transformations are permitted. Some are used to all
> > vector instructions to be used -- the compiler can do a write with an
> > overly wide vector instruction, then clean up the clobbered variables
> > later, if it wishes. Again, if the variables are not marked volatile,
> > or, in C/C++11, atomic.
> All this can justify only compiler barrier() which is almost free from
> performance point of view, since current gcc anyway doesn't perform store
> hoisting optimization in our case.

If the above example doesn't get you to give up your incorrect assumption
about "if" statements having much effect on ordering, you need more help
than I can give you just now.

> (And I'm not getting into philosophical discussion whether kernel code
> should consider future possible bugs/features in gcc or C/C++11
> standard).

Should you wish to get into that discussion in the near future, you
will need to find someone else to discuss it with.

> > The compilers don't always know as much as they might about the
> underlying
> > hardware's memory model.
> That's correct in general. But can you point out a problem that really
> exists?

We will see.

In the meantime, can you summarize the ordering requirements of your

> > Of course, if this code is architecture specific,
> > it can avoid DEC Alpha's fun and games, which could also violate your
> > assumptions in the above paragraph:
> >
> >
> Are you talking about this paragraph from above link:
> "For instance, your producer must issue a "memory barrier" instruction
> after writing the data to shared memory and before inserting it on
> the queue; likewise, your consumer must issue a memory barrier
> instruction after removing an item from the queue and before reading
> from its memory. Otherwise, you risk seeing stale data, since, while
> the Alpha processor does provide coherent memory, it does not provide
> implicit ordering of reads and writes. (That is, the write of the
> producer's data might reach memory after the write of the queue, such
> that the consumer might read the new item from the queue but get the
> previous values from the item's memory."
> If yes, I don't think it explains the need of memory barrier on Alpha
> in our case (we all agree about the need of smp_wmb() right before @head
> update by producer). If not, could you please point to specific paragraph?

Did you miss the following passage in the paragraph you quoted?

"... likewise, your consumer must issue a memory barrier
instruction after removing an item from the queue and before
reading from its memory."

That is why DEC Alpha readers need a read-side memory barrier -- it says
so right there. And as either you or Peter noted earlier in this thread,
this barrier can be supplied by smp_read_barrier_depends().

I can sympathize if you are having trouble believing this. After all,
it took the DEC Alpha architects a full hour to convince me, and that was
in a face-to-face meeting instead of over email. (Just for the record,
it took me even longer to convince them that their earlier documentation
did not clearly indicate the need for these read-side barriers.) But
regardless of whether or not I sympathize, DEC Alpha is what it is.

> > Anyway, proving or fixing the code in Documentation/circular-buffers.txt
> > has been on my list for too long, so I will take a closer look at it.
> Thanks!
> I'm concerned more about performance overhead imposed by the full memory
> barrier in kfifo circular buffers. Even if it is needed on Alpha (I don't
> understand why) we could try to solve this with some memory barrier which
> is effective only on architectures which really need it.

By exactly how much does the memory barrier slow your code down on some
example system? (Yes, I can believe that it is a problem, but is it
really a problem in your exact situation?)

Thanx, Paul

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