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SubjectRe: [RFC][PATCH 0/5] arch: atomic rework
On Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 03:35:04PM -0800, Linus Torvalds wrote:
> On Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 2:37 PM, Paul E. McKenney
> <> wrote:
> >>
> >> What if the "nothing modifies 'p'" part looks like this:
> >>
> >> if (p != &myvariable)
> >> return;
> >>
> >> and now any sane compiler will happily optimize "q = *p" into "q =
> >> myvariable", and we're all done - nothing invalid was ever
> >
> > Yes, the compiler could do that. But it would still be required to
> > carry a dependency from the memory_order_consume read to the "*p",
> But that's *BS*. You didn't actually listen to the main issue.
> Paul, why do you insist on this carries-a-dependency crap?

Sigh. Read on...

> It's broken. If you don't believe me, then believe the compiler person
> who already piped up and told you so.
> The "carries a dependency" model is broken. Get over it.
> No sane compiler will ever distinguish two different registers that
> have the same value from each other. No sane compiler will ever say
> "ok, register r1 has the exact same value as register r2, but r2
> carries the dependency, so I need to make sure to pass r2 to that
> function or use it as a base pointer".
> And nobody sane should *expect* a compiler to distinguish two
> registers with the same value that way.
> So the whole model is broken.
> I gave an alternate model (the "restrict"), and you didn't seem to
> understand the really fundamental difference. It's not a language
> difference, it's a conceptual difference.
> In the broken "carries a dependency" model, you have fight all those
> aliases that can have the same value, and it is not a fight you can
> win. We've had the "p-p" examples, we've had the "p&0" examples, but
> the fact is, that "p==&myvariable" example IS EXACTLY THE SAME THING.
> All three of those things: "p-p", "p&0", and "p==&myvariable" mean
> that any compiler worth its salt now know that "p" carries no
> information, and will optimize it away.
> So please stop arguing against that. Whenever you argue against that
> simple fact, you are arguing against sane compilers.

So let me see if I understand your reasoning. My best guess is that it
goes something like this:

1. The Linux kernel contains code that passes pointers from
rcu_dereference() through external functions.

2. Code in the Linux kernel expects the normal RCU ordering
guarantees to be in effect even when external functions are

3. When compiling one of these external functions, the C compiler
has no way of knowing about these RCU ordering guarantees.

4. The C compiler might therefore apply any and all optimizations
to these external functions.

5. This in turn implies that we the only way to prohibit any given
optimization from being applied to the results obtained from
rcu_dereference() is to prohibit that optimization globally.

6. We have to be very careful what optimizations are globally
prohibited, because a poor choice could result in unacceptable
performance degradation.

7. Therefore, the only operations that can be counted on to
maintain the needed RCU orderings are those where the compiler
really doesn't have any choice, in other words, where any
reasonable way of computing the result will necessarily maintain
the needed ordering.

Did I get this right, or am I confused?

> So *accept* the fact that some operations (and I guarantee that there
> are more of those than you can think of, and you can create them with
> various tricks using pretty much *any* feature in the C language)
> essentially take the data information away. And just accept the fact
> that then the ordering goes away too.

Actually, the fact that there are more potential optimizations than I can
think of is a big reason for my insistence on the carries-a-dependency
crap. My lack of optimization omniscience makes me very nervous about
relying on there never ever being a reasonable way of computing a given
result without preserving the ordering.

> So give up on "carries a dependency". Because there will be cases
> where that dependency *isn't* carried.
> The language of the standard needs to get *away* from the broken
> model, because otherwise the standard is broken.
> I suggest we instead talk about "litmus tests" and why certain code
> sequences are ordered, and others are not.


> So the code sequence I already mentioned is *not* ordered:
> Litmus test 1:
> p = atomic_read(pp, consume);
> if (p == &variable)
> return p->val;
> is *NOT* ordered, because the compiler can trivially turn this into
> "return variable.val", and break the data dependency.

Right, given your model, the compiler is free to produce code that
doesn't order the load from pp against the load from p->val.

> This is true *regardless* of any "carries a dependency" language,
> because that language is insane, and doesn't work when the different
> pieces here may be in different compilation units.

Indeed, it won't work across different compilation units unless
the compiler is told about it, which is of course the whole point of
[[carries_dependency]]. Understood, though, the Linux kernel currently
does not have anything that could reasonably automatically generate those
[[carries_dependency]] attributes. (Or are there other reasons why you
believe [[carries_dependency]] is problematic?)

> BUT:
> Litmus test 2:
> p = atomic_read(pp, consume);
> if (p != &variable)
> return p->val;
> *IS* ordered, because while it looks syntactically a lot like
> "Litmus test 1", there is no sane way a compiler can use the knowledge
> that "p is not a pointer to a particular location" to break the data
> dependency.
> There is no way in hell that any sane "carries a dependency" model can
> get the simple tests above right.
> So give up on it already. "Carries a dependency" cannot work. It's a
> bad model. You're trying to describe the problem using the wrong
> tools.
> Note that my "restrict+pointer to object" language actually got this
> *right*. The "restrict" part made Litmus test 1 not ordered, because
> that "p == &variable" success case means that the pointer wasn't
> restricted, so the pre-requisite for ordering didn't exist.
> See? The "carries a dependency" is a broken model for this, but there
> are _other_ models that can work.
> You tried to rewrite my model into "carries a dependency". That
> *CANNOT* work. It's like trying to rewrite quantum physics into the
> Greek model of the four elements. They are not compatible models, and
> one of them can be shown to not work.

Of course, I cannot resist putting forward a third litmus test:

static struct foo variable1;
static struct foo variable2;
static struct foo *pp = &variable1;

T1: initialize_foo(&variable2);
atomic_store_explicit(&pp, &variable2, memory_order_release);
/* The above is the only store to pp in this translation unit,
* and the address of pp is not exported in any way.

T2: if (p == &variable1)
return p->val1; /* Must be variable1.val1. */
return p->val2; /* Must be variable2.val2. */

My guess is that your approach would not provide ordering in this
case, either. Or am I missing something?

Thanx, Paul

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