Re: [PATCH] mm: PageLRU can be non-atomic bit operation

From: Fernando Luis Vázquez Cao
Date: Wed Apr 25 2007 - 04:57:20 EST

On Tue, 2007-04-24 at 16:22 +0200, Andi Kleen wrote:
> > Why would you need any kind of lock when just changing a single bit,
> > if it didn't affect other bits of the same word? Just as you don't
> > need a lock when simply assigning a word, setting a bit to 0 or 1
> > is simple in itself (it doesn't matter if it was 0 or 1 before).
> >
> > > But, I think that concurrent bit operation on different bits
> > > is just like OR operation , so lock prefix is not needed.
> >
> > I firmly believe that it is; but I'm not a processor expert.
> Think of the CPU cache like the page cache. The VFS cannot change
> anything directly on disk - it always has to read a page (or block);
> change it there even if it's only a single bit and back.
> Now imagine multiple independent kernels to that disk doing this in parallel
> without any locking. You will lose data on simple changes because
> of data races.
> The CPU is similar. The memory is the disk; the protocol talking to
> the memory only knows cache lines. There are multiple CPUs talking
> to that memory. The CPUs cannot change anything
> without reading a full cache line first and then later writing it back.
> There is "just do OR operation" when talking to memory, just like
> disks don't have such a operation; just read and write.
> [there are some special cases with uncached mappings, but they are not
> relevant here]
> With lock the CPU ensures the read-modify-write cycle is atomic,
> without it doesn't.
> The CPU also guarantees you that multiple writes don't get lost
> even when they hit the same cache line (otherwise you would need lock
> for anything in the same cache line), but it doesn't guarantee that
> for a word. The details for that vary by architecture; on x86 it is
> any memory access, on others it can be only guaranteed for long stores.
> The exact rules for all this can be quite complicated (and also vary
> by architecture), this is a simplification but should be enough as a rough
> guide.

Intel 80386 Reference Programmer's Manual reads:

" When accessing a bit in memory, the processor may access four bytes
starting from the memory address given by:

Effective Address + (4 * (BitOffset DIV 32))
for a 32-bit operand size, or two bytes starting from the memory address
given by:
Effective Address + (2 * (BitOffset DIV 16))
for a 16-bit operand size. It may do this even when only a single byte
needs to be accessed in order to get at the given bit. "

This seems to imply that we need the lock prefix even when updating
different bits within the same long (not just the same byte). Is this
interpretation correct?

- Fernando

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