Re: [PATCH -tip 3/6 V4.1] x86: instruction decorder API

From: H. Peter Anvin
Date: Fri Apr 03 2009 - 19:45:47 EST

Masami Hiramatsu wrote:
Add x86 instruction decoder to arch-specific libraries. This decoder
can decode all x86 instructions into prefix, opcode, modrm, sib,
displacement and immediates. This can also show the length of

changes from v4:
- make bitmap tables static.

Hi Masami,

On the surface the overall structure looks fine, but I have a couple of concerns:

1. is this meant to be able to decode userspace code or just kernel code? If it is supposed to be able to decode userspace code, is there a reason you're not dealing with 16-bit or V86 mode code at all? If not, why are you including the 32-bit decoder in a 64-bit kernel (as well as instructions which we're pretty much guaranteed to never use in the kernel, such as ENTER.)

2. you're already not dealing with all existing three-byte opcode spaces, nor with DREX or VEX encodings for upcoming processors. This doesn't matter so much for the kernel, but it does matter if this is supposed to be used for user-space code.

3. is there any need to deal with instruction set differences among processors? (Again, this depends on the usage model.)

4. you have a bunch of magic opcode constants all over the place. This means that as new instructions come in -- and they're going to be coming in -- this is going to be hard to update. It would be cleaner if we could have an intermediate format that preprocesses down to all the relevant tables and perhaps even some of the code rather than open-coding everything in C.

This matters... for example you have:

+ } else if (opcode == 0xea /* jmp far seg:offs */) {
+ __get_immptr(insn);

... but nothing similar for opcode 0x9a. This is extremely hard to spot with this kind of structure.

The more data-driven we can make it (without bloating the code too much) the better off we are, I believe.

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