Re: [RFC][PATCH 0/5] arch: atomic rework

From: Paul E. McKenney
Date: Thu Feb 06 2014 - 23:21:12 EST

On Fri, Feb 07, 2014 at 12:44:48AM +0100, Torvald Riegel wrote:
> On Thu, 2014-02-06 at 14:11 -0800, Paul E. McKenney wrote:
> > On Thu, Feb 06, 2014 at 10:17:03PM +0100, Torvald Riegel wrote:
> > > On Thu, 2014-02-06 at 11:27 -0800, Paul E. McKenney wrote:
> > > > On Thu, Feb 06, 2014 at 06:59:10PM +0000, Will Deacon wrote:
> > > > > There are also so many ways to blow your head off it's untrue. For example,
> > > > > cmpxchg takes a separate memory model parameter for failure and success, but
> > > > > then there are restrictions on the sets you can use for each. It's not hard
> > > > > to find well-known memory-ordering experts shouting "Just use
> > > > > memory_model_seq_cst for everything, it's too hard otherwise". Then there's
> > > > > the fun of load-consume vs load-acquire (arm64 GCC completely ignores consume
> > > > > atm and optimises all of the data dependencies away) as well as the definition
> > > > > of "data races", which seem to be used as an excuse to miscompile a program
> > > > > at the earliest opportunity.
> > > >
> > > > Trust me, rcu_dereference() is not going to be defined in terms of
> > > > memory_order_consume until the compilers implement it both correctly and
> > > > efficiently. They are not there yet, and there is currently no shortage
> > > > of compiler writers who would prefer to ignore memory_order_consume.
> > >
> > > Do you have any input on
> > > In particular, the
> > > language standard's definition of dependencies?
> >
> > Let's see... 1.10p9 says that a dependency must be carried unless:
> >
> > â B is an invocation of any specialization of std::kill_dependency (29.3), or
> > â A is the left operand of a built-in logical AND (&&, see 5.14) or logical OR (||, see 5.15) operator,
> > or
> > â A is the left operand of a conditional (?:, see 5.16) operator, or
> > â A is the left operand of the built-in comma (,) operator (5.18);
> >
> > So the use of "flag" before the "?" is ignored. But the "flag - flag"
> > after the "?" will carry a dependency, so the code fragment in 59448
> > needs to do the ordering rather than just optimizing "flag - flag" out
> > of existence. One way to do that on both ARM and Power is to actually
> > emit code for "flag - flag", but there are a number of other ways to
> > make that work.
> And that's what would concern me, considering that these requirements
> seem to be able to creep out easily. Also, whereas the other atomics
> just constrain compilers wrt. reordering across atomic accesses or
> changes to the atomic accesses themselves, the dependencies are new
> requirements on pieces of otherwise non-synchronizing code. The latter
> seems far more involved to me.

Well, the wording of 1.10p9 is pretty explicit on this point.
There are only a few exceptions to the rule that dependencies from
memory_order_consume loads must be tracked. And to your point about
requirements being placed on pieces of otherwise non-synchronizing code,
we already have that with plain old load acquire and store release --
both of these put ordering constraints that affect the surrounding
non-synchronizing code.

This issue got a lot of discussion, and the compromise is that
dependencies cannot leak into or out of functions unless the relevant
parameters or return values are annotated with [[carries_dependency]].
This means that the compiler can see all the places where dependencies
must be tracked. This is described in 7.6.4. If a dependency chain
headed by a memory_order_consume load goes into or out of a function
without the aid of the [[carries_dependency]] attribute, the compiler
needs to do something else to enforce ordering, e.g., emit a memory

>From a Linux-kernel viewpoint, this is a bit ugly, as it requires
annotations and use of kill_dependency, but it was the best I could do
at the time. If things go as they usually do, there will be some other
reason why those are needed...

> > BTW, there is some discussion on 1.10p9's handling of && and ||, and
> > that clause is likely to change. And yes, I am behind on analyzing
> > usage in the Linux kernel to find out if Linux cares...
> Do you have any pointers to these discussions (e.g., LWG issues)?

Nope, just a bare email thread. I would guess that it will come up
next week.

The question is whether dependencies should be carried through && or ||
at all, and if so how. My current guess is that && and || should not
carry dependencies.

> > > > And rcu_dereference() will need per-arch overrides for some time during
> > > > any transition to memory_order_consume.
> > > >
> > > > > Trying to introduce system concepts (writes to devices, interrupts,
> > > > > non-coherent agents) into this mess is going to be an uphill battle IMHO. I'd
> > > > > just rather stick to the semantics we have and the asm volatile barriers.
> > > >
> > > > And barrier() isn't going to go away any time soon, either. And
> > > > ACCESS_ONCE() needs to keep volatile semantics until there is some
> > > > memory_order_whatever that prevents loads and stores from being coalesced.
> > >
> > > I'd be happy to discuss something like this in ISO C++ SG1 (or has this
> > > been discussed in the past already?). But it needs to have a paper I
> > > suppose.
> >
> > The current position of the usual suspects other than me is that this
> > falls into the category of forward-progress guarantees, which are
> > considers (again, by the usual suspects other than me) to be out
> > of scope.
> But I think we need to better describe forward progress, even though
> that might be tricky. We made at least some progress on
> in Chicago, even
> though we can't constrain the OS schedulers too much, and for lock-free
> we're in this weird position that on most general-purpose schedulers and
> machines, obstruction-free algorithms are likely to work just fine like
> lock-free, most of the time, in practice...

Yep, there is a draft paper by Alistarh et al. making this point.
They could go quite a bit further. With a reasonably short set of
additional constraints, you can get bounded execution times out of
locking as well. They were not amused when I suggested this, Bjoern
Brandenberg's dissertation notwithstanding. ;-)

> We also need to discuss forward progress guarantees for any
> parallelism/concurrency abstractions, I believe:
> Hopefully we'll get some more acceptance of this being in scope...

That would be good. Just in case C11 is to be applicable to real-time

> > > Will you be in Issaquah for the C++ meeting next week?
> >
> > Weather permitting, I will be there!
> Great, maybe we can find some time in SG1 to discuss this then. Even if
> the standard doesn't want to include it, SG1 should be a good forum to
> understand everyone's concerns around that, with the hope that this
> would help potential non-standard extensions to be still checked by the
> same folks that did the rest of the memory model.

Sounds good! Hopefully some discussion of out-of-thin-air values as well.

Thanx, Paul

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