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

From: Paul E. McKenney
Date: Fri Feb 07 2014 - 11:48:12 EST

On Fri, Feb 07, 2014 at 12:01:25PM +0000, Will Deacon wrote:
> Hello Torvald,
> It looks like Paul clarified most of the points I was trying to make
> (thanks Paul!), so I won't go back over them here.
> On Thu, Feb 06, 2014 at 09:09:25PM +0000, Torvald Riegel wrote:
> > Are you familiar with the formalization of the C11/C++11 model by Batty
> > et al.?
> >
> >
> >
> > They also have a nice tool that can run condensed examples and show you
> > all allowed (and forbidden) executions (it runs in the browser, so is
> > slow for larger examples), including nice annotated graphs for those:
> >
> Thanks for the link, that's incredibly helpful. I've used ppcmem and armmem
> in the past, but I didn't realise they have a version for C++11 too.
> Actually, the armmem backend doesn't implement our atomic instructions or
> the acquire/release accessors, so it's not been as useful as it could be.
> I should probably try to learn OCaml...

That would be very cool!

Another option would be to recruit a grad student to take on that project
for Peter Sewell. He might already have one, for all I know.

> > IMHO, one thing worth considering is that for C/C++, the C11/C++11 is
> > the only memory model that has widespread support. So, even though it's
> > a fairly weak memory model (unless you go for the "only seq-cst"
> > beginners advice) and thus comes with a higher complexity, this model is
> > what likely most people will be familiar with over time. Deviating from
> > the "standard" model can have valid reasons, but it also has a cost in
> > that new contributors are more likely to be familiar with the "standard"
> > model.
> Indeed, I wasn't trying to write-off the C11 memory model as something we
> can never use in the kernel. I just don't think the current situation is
> anywhere close to usable for a project such as Linux. If a greater
> understanding of the memory model does eventually manifest amongst C/C++
> developers (by which I mean, the beginners advice is really treated as
> such and there is a widespread intuition about ordering guarantees, as
> opposed to the need to use formal tools), then surely the tools and libraries
> will stabilise and provide uniform semantics across the 25+ architectures
> that Linux currently supports. If *that* happens, this discussion is certainly
> worth having again.

And it is likely to be worthwhile even before then on a piecemeal
basis, where architecture maintainers pick and choose which primitive
is in inline assembly and which the compiler can deal with properly.
For example, I bet that atomic_inc() can be implemented just fine by C11
in the very near future. However, atomic_add_return() is another story.

Thanx, Paul

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