Re: Dealing with the NMI mess

From: Paolo Bonzini
Date: Mon Sep 07 2015 - 06:20:06 EST

On 07/09/2015 10:19, Maciej W. Rozycki wrote:
>> > Essentially the ICE breakpoint instruction enters SMM mode?
> I didn't do stuff at the probe firmware level so I can't say for sure,
> but my gut feeling is the debug mode is indeed very close if not the same
> as SMM. I think duplicating the logic would be an unnecessary waste of
> silicon.

I researched SMM a bit recently in order to implement it in KVM, and the
best source of folklore seems to be (which I
also have on paper :)).

The author there says that SMM design was roughly based on the 386's
probe/ICE mode design, but it's actually separate. Most notably, on the
386 the state save areas almost mirror each other, but when I say
mirror... I do mean mirror: directions are reversed, and what is on top
for probe mode is on bottom for SMM. :)

In addition, AMD tried reusing ICE mode for SMM, and was sued by Intel
who actually won the lawsuit. I couldn't find more information about
the lawsuit.

It's probably diverged more and more over time, for example because SMM
is now considered security-sensitive while probe mode isn't. In
addition, the same DDJ article says that Pentium JTAG probe mode
"doesn't resemble SMM at all, doesn't use a state save map, or even
execute any code of its own", whatever that means.


> And obviously it's any cause of #DB that enters this mode. The probe can
> also request it right at the exit from the reset state, so that you can
> debug software (e.g BIOS startup) right from the reset vector. You don't
> need working RAM for that.
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