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Date:	Sun, 5 Nov 2006 09:51:36 -0800 (PST)
From:	Linus Torvalds <>
To:	Arjan van de Ven <>
cc:	Andi Kleen <>, Zachary Amsden <>,
	Benjamin LaHaise <>,
	Chuck Ebbert <>,
	linux-kernel <>
Subject: Re: [rfc patch] i386: don't save eflags on task switch

On Sun, 5 Nov 2006, Arjan van de Ven wrote:
> actually lockdep is pretty good at finding this type of bug IMMEDIATELY
> even without the actual race triggering ;)

Ehh. Last time this happened, lockdep didn't find _squat_. 

This was when NT and AC leaked across context switches, because the 
context switching had removed the "expensive" save/restore.

The thing is, complexity is in the unintended side effects, not in the 
code itself. For example, let's say that we changed "restore_flags()" to 

	static inline void restore_flags(unsigned long x)
		if (x & 0x200)
			asm volatile("sti");

(I didn't check that IF is 0x200, but it's something like that) and it was 
two cycles faster on average than just doing a "popf". The _complexity_ 
here is that now there might be some other x86-architecture-specific code 
sequence that nobody even _realized_ actually depended on saving the other 
flags too. Like the context switching thing did.

Is it likely? Maybe not. But that's the thing about complexity - you'd not 
know, would you?

Do a few of these kinds of things, and _individually_ they are unlikely to 
add new bugs, but once you've done ten or twenty of them, the likelihood 
that _one_ of them added a subtle bug that it will take months or years to 
find is suddenly not all that small any more.

This is why "robust" is so important. So _much_ more important than a 
cycle or two. The fact is, saving and restoring all the eflags over a 
context switch is just _more_robust_. If you do a pushfl/popfl, there's 
simply not a lot you can screw up.

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