Re: [RFC] LKMM: Add volatile_if()

From: Mathieu Desnoyers
Date: Fri Sep 24 2021 - 14:39:04 EST


Following the LPC2021 BoF about control dependency, I re-read the kernel
documentation about control dependency, and ended up thinking that what
we have now is utterly fragile.

Considering that the goal here is to prevent the compiler from being able to
optimize a conditional branch into something which lacks the control
dependency, while letting the compiler choose the best conditional
branch in each case, how about the following approach ?

#define ctrl_dep_eval(x) ({ BUILD_BUG_ON(__builtin_constant_p((_Bool) x)); x; })
#define ctrl_dep_emit_loop(x) ({ __label__ l_dummy; l_dummy: asm volatile goto ("" : : : "cc", "memory" : l_dummy); (x); })
#define ctrl_dep_if(x) if ((ctrl_dep_eval(x) && ctrl_dep_emit_loop(1)) || ctrl_dep_emit_loop(0))

The idea is to forbid the compiler from considering the two branches as
identical by adding a dummy loop in each branch with an empty asm goto.
Considering that the compiler should not assume anything about the
contents of the asm goto (it's been designed so the generated assembly
can be modified at runtime), then the compiler can hardly know whether
each branch will trigger an infinite loop or not, which should prevent
unwanted optimisations.

With this approach, the following code now keeps the control dependency:

z = READ_ONCE(var1);
ctrl_dep_if (z)
WRITE_ONCE(var2, 5);
WRITE_ONCE(var2, 5);

And the ctrl_dep_eval() checking the constant triggers a build error

y = READ_ONCE(var1);
ctrl_dep_if (y % 1)
WRITE_ONCE(var2, 5);
WRITE_ONCE(var2, 6);

Which is good to have to ensure the compiler don't end up removing the
conditional branch because the resulting evaluation ends up evaluating a

Thoughts ?



Mathieu Desnoyers
EfficiOS Inc.