Re: [discuss] Re: [Bug 350] New: i386 context switch very slow compared to 2.4 due to wrmsr (performance)

From: Eric Northup (
Date: Thu Feb 13 2003 - 20:51:35 EST

On Thursday 13 February 2003 07:14 pm, Peter Tattam wrote:
> On Thu, 13 Feb 2003, Andi Kleen wrote:
> > [Hmm, this is becomming a FAQ]
> >
> > > Switching in and out of long mode is evil enough that I don't think it
> > > is worth it. And encouraging people to write good JIT compiling
> >
> > Forget it. It is completely undefined in the architecture what happens
> > then. You'll lose interrupts and everything. Nothing for an operating
> > system intended to be stable.
> >
> > I have no plans at all to even think about it for Linux/x86-64.
> The only other unknown quantity is the time it takes for the CPU to
> enable/disable long mode, but with modern CPU speeds, the interrupt latency
> may only be mildy affect by such a process, unless the CPU is broken in
> some way. I see no discussion in the AMD manuals regarding the cost of the
> mode switch, only what AMD engineers have hinted at.

I think the real issue is that AMD neither recommends nor supports this
strategy. ( ... there were
better posts but I couldn't find them) People with real hardware can't talk
about it right now, but it seems to me this is just begging to get hit by
errata -- how much effore do you think team Hammer spent testing a subtle
mode transition which is marked "Don't do that!" ?

> > > emulators sounds much better, especially in the long run. But it can
> > > be written.
> >
> > For DOS even a slow emulator should be good enough. After all most
> > DOS Programs are written for slow machines. Bochs running on a K8
> > will be hopefully fast enough. If not an JIT can be written, perhaps
> > you can extend valgrind for it.
> >
> > Or if you really rely on a DOS program executing fast you can
> > always boot a 32bit kernel which of course still supports vm86
> > in legacy mode.
> While an emulator sounds like a good idea, it is baggage that needs to be
> included. JIT is probably overkill if the hardware can already do it.

I am actually working on a dynamic translator for x86, and am starting with
16-bit real-mode. It's a bit OT for linux-kernel, and it's not done yet so
I'll spare you the details, but the point is that the kernel doesn't need to
do anything special to help an emulator/dynamic translator, and that it
*shouldn't* let you run real-mode code on the hardware.

> I contend that if the thunking code is reasonably well defined and thought
> out, jumping in & out of long mode might not be as big a hassle as
> originally thought.

Even the best code is subject to the limitations of the hardware it is run on.

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