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Date:	Thu, 16 Aug 2007 18:01:08 -0700
From:	"Paul E. McKenney" <>
To:	Herbert Xu <>
Cc:	Stefan Richter <>,
	Paul Mackerras <>,
	Satyam Sharma <>,
	Christoph Lameter <>,
	Chris Snook <>,
	Linux Kernel Mailing List <>,,
	Linus Torvalds <>,, Andrew Morton <>,,,,,,,,,,,,
Subject: Re: [PATCH 0/24] make atomic_read() behave consistently across all architectures

On Fri, Aug 17, 2007 at 07:59:02AM +0800, Herbert Xu wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 16, 2007 at 09:34:41AM -0700, Paul E. McKenney wrote:
> >
> > The compiler can also reorder non-volatile accesses.  For an example
> > patch that cares about this, please see:
> > 
> >
> > 
> > This patch uses an ORDERED_WRT_IRQ() in rcu_read_lock() and
> > rcu_read_unlock() to ensure that accesses aren't reordered with respect
> > to interrupt handlers and NMIs/SMIs running on that same CPU.
> Good, finally we have some code to discuss (even though it's
> not actually in the kernel yet).

There was some earlier in this thread as well.

> First of all, I think this illustrates that what you want
> here has nothing to do with atomic ops.  The ORDERED_WRT_IRQ
> macro occurs a lot more times in your patch than atomic
> reads/sets.  So *assuming* that it was necessary at all,
> then having an ordered variant of the atomic_read/atomic_set
> ops could do just as well.

Indeed.  If I could trust atomic_read()/atomic_set() to cause the compiler
to maintain ordering, then I could just use them instead of having to
create an  ORDERED_WRT_IRQ().  (Or ACCESS_ONCE(), as it is called in a
different patch.)

> However, I still don't know which atomic_read/atomic_set in
> your patch would be broken if there were no volatile.  Could
> you please point them out?

Suppose I tried replacing the ORDERED_WRT_IRQ() calls with
atomic_read() and atomic_set().  Starting with __rcu_read_lock():

o	If "ORDERED_WRT_IRQ(__get_cpu_var(rcu_flipctr)[idx])++"
	was ordered by the compiler after
	"ORDERED_WRT_IRQ(me->rcu_read_lock_nesting) = nesting + 1", then
	suppose an NMI/SMI happened after the rcu_read_lock_nesting but
	before the rcu_flipctr.

	Then if there was an rcu_read_lock() in the SMI/NMI
	handler (which is perfectly legal), the nested rcu_read_lock()
	would believe that it could take the then-clause of the
	enclosing "if" statement.  But because the rcu_flipctr per-CPU
	variable had not yet been incremented, an RCU updater would
	be within its rights to assume that there were no RCU reads
	in progress, thus possibly yanking a data structure out from
	under the reader in the SMI/NMI function.

	Fatal outcome.  Note that only one CPU is involved here
	because these are all either per-CPU or per-task variables.

o	If "ORDERED_WRT_IRQ(me->rcu_read_lock_nesting) = nesting + 1"
	was ordered by the compiler to follow the
	"ORDERED_WRT_IRQ(me->rcu_flipctr_idx) = idx", and an NMI/SMI
	happened between the two, then an __rcu_read_lock() in the NMI/SMI
	would incorrectly take the "else" clause of the enclosing "if"
	statement.  If some other CPU flipped the rcu_ctrlblk.completed
	in the meantime, then the __rcu_read_lock() would (correctly)
	write the new value into rcu_flipctr_idx.

	Well and good so far.  But the problem arises in
	__rcu_read_unlock(), which then decrements the wrong counter.
	Depending on exactly how subsequent events played out, this could
	result in either prematurely ending grace periods or never-ending
	grace periods, both of which are fatal outcomes.

And the following are not needed in the current version of the
patch, but will be in a future version that either avoids disabling
irqs or that dispenses with the smp_read_barrier_depends() that I
have 99% convinced myself is unneeded:

o	nesting = ORDERED_WRT_IRQ(me->rcu_read_lock_nesting);

o	idx = ORDERED_WRT_IRQ(rcu_ctrlblk.completed) & 0x1;

Furthermore, in that future version, irq handlers can cause the same
mischief that SMI/NMI handlers can in this version.

Next, looking at __rcu_read_unlock():

o	If "ORDERED_WRT_IRQ(me->rcu_read_lock_nesting) = nesting - 1"
	was reordered by the compiler to follow the
	then if an NMI/SMI containing an rcu_read_lock() occurs between
	the two, this nested rcu_read_lock() would incorrectly believe
	that it was protected by an enclosing RCU read-side critical
	section as described in the first reversal discussed for
	__rcu_read_lock() above.  Again, fatal outcome.

This is what we have now.  It is not hard to imagine situations that
interact with -both- interrupt handlers -and- other CPUs, as described

							Thanx, Paul
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