Permalink
Browse files

doc: Add load/store guarantees to Documentation/atomic-ops.txt

An IRC discussion uncovered many conflicting opinions on what types
of data may be atomically loaded and stored.  This commit therefore
calls this out the official set: pointers, longs, ints, and chars (but
not shorts).  This commit also gives some examples of compiler mischief
that can thwart atomicity.

Please note that this discussion is relevant to !SMP kernels if
CONFIG_PREEMPT=y: preemption can cause almost as much trouble as can SMP.

Signed-off-by: Paul E. McKenney <paulmck@linux.vnet.ibm.com>
Cc: Richard Henderson <rth@twiddle.net>
Cc: Ivan Kokshaysky <ink@jurassic.park.msu.ru>
Cc: Matt Turner <mattst88@gmail.com>
Cc: Russell King <linux@arm.linux.org.uk>
Cc: Haavard Skinnemoen <hskinnemoen@gmail.com>
Cc: Hans-Christian Egtvedt <egtvedt@samfundet.no>
Cc: Mike Frysinger <vapier@gentoo.org>
Cc: Mikael Starvik <starvik@axis.com>
Cc: Jesper Nilsson <jesper.nilsson@axis.com>
Cc: David Howells <dhowells@redhat.com>
Cc: Yoshinori Sato <ysato@users.sourceforge.jp>
Cc: Richard Kuo <rkuo@codeaurora.org>
Cc: Jes Sorensen <jes@sgi.com>
Cc: Hirokazu Takata <takata@linux-m32r.org>
Cc: Geert Uytterhoeven <geert@linux-m68k.org>
Cc: Michal Simek <monstr@monstr.eu>
Cc: Ralf Baechle <ralf@linux-mips.org>
Cc: Koichi Yasutake <yasutake.koichi@jp.panasonic.com>
Cc: Jonas Bonn <jonas@southpole.se>
Cc: Kyle McMartin <kyle@mcmartin.ca>
Cc: Helge Deller <deller@gmx.de>
Cc: "James E.J. Bottomley" <jejb@parisc-linux.org>
Cc: Benjamin Herrenschmidt <benh@kernel.crashing.org>
Cc: Paul Mackerras <paulus@samba.org>
Cc: Martin Schwidefsky <schwidefsky@de.ibm.com>
Cc: Heiko Carstens <heiko.carstens@de.ibm.com>
Cc: Chen Liqin <liqin.chen@sunplusct.com>
Cc: Lennox Wu <lennox.wu@gmail.com>
Cc: Paul Mundt <lethal@linux-sh.org>
Cc: "David S. Miller" <davem@davemloft.net>
Cc: Chris Metcalf <cmetcalf@tilera.com>
Cc: Jeff Dike <jdike@addtoit.com>
Cc: Richard Weinberger <richard@nod.at>
Cc: Guan Xuetao <gxt@mprc.pku.edu.cn>
Cc: Thomas Gleixner <tglx@linutronix.de>
Cc: Ingo Molnar <mingo@redhat.com>
Cc: "H. Peter Anvin" <hpa@zytor.com>
Cc: Chris Zankel <chris@zankel.net>
  • Loading branch information...
1 parent 1268fbc commit 182dd4b277177e8465ad11cd9f85f282946b5578 @paulmck paulmck committed Nov 22, 2011
Showing with 87 additions and 0 deletions.
  1. +87 −0 Documentation/atomic_ops.txt
@@ -84,6 +84,93 @@ compiler optimizes the section accessing atomic_t variables.
*** YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! ***
+Properly aligned pointers, longs, ints, and chars (and unsigned
+equivalents) may be atomically loaded from and stored to in the same
+sense as described for atomic_read() and atomic_set(). The ACCESS_ONCE()
+macro should be used to prevent the compiler from using optimizations
+that might otherwise optimize accesses out of existence on the one hand,
+or that might create unsolicited accesses on the other.
+
+For example consider the following code:
+
+ while (a > 0)
+ do_something();
+
+If the compiler can prove that do_something() does not store to the
+variable a, then the compiler is within its rights transforming this to
+the following:
+
+ tmp = a;
+ if (a > 0)
+ for (;;)
+ do_something();
+
+If you don't want the compiler to do this (and you probably don't), then
+you should use something like the following:
+
+ while (ACCESS_ONCE(a) < 0)
+ do_something();
+
+Alternatively, you could place a barrier() call in the loop.
+
+For another example, consider the following code:
+
+ tmp_a = a;
+ do_something_with(tmp_a);
+ do_something_else_with(tmp_a);
+
+If the compiler can prove that do_something_with() does not store to the
+variable a, then the compiler is within its rights to manufacture an
+additional load as follows:
+
+ tmp_a = a;
+ do_something_with(tmp_a);
+ tmp_a = a;
+ do_something_else_with(tmp_a);
+
+This could fatally confuse your code if it expected the same value
+to be passed to do_something_with() and do_something_else_with().
+
+The compiler would be likely to manufacture this additional load if
+do_something_with() was an inline function that made very heavy use
+of registers: reloading from variable a could save a flush to the
+stack and later reload. To prevent the compiler from attacking your
+code in this manner, write the following:
+
+ tmp_a = ACCESS_ONCE(a);
+ do_something_with(tmp_a);
+ do_something_else_with(tmp_a);
+
+For a final example, consider the following code, assuming that the
+variable a is set at boot time before the second CPU is brought online
+and never changed later, so that memory barriers are not needed:
+
+ if (a)
+ b = 9;
+ else
+ b = 42;
+
+The compiler is within its rights to manufacture an additional store
+by transforming the above code into the following:
+
+ b = 42;
+ if (a)
+ b = 9;
+
+This could come as a fatal surprise to other code running concurrently
+that expected b to never have the value 42 if a was zero. To prevent
+the compiler from doing this, write something like:
+
+ if (a)
+ ACCESS_ONCE(b) = 9;
+ else
+ ACCESS_ONCE(b) = 42;
+
+Don't even -think- about doing this without proper use of memory barriers,
+locks, or atomic operations if variable a can change at runtime!
+
+*** WARNING: ACCESS_ONCE() DOES NOT IMPLY A BARRIER! ***
+
Now, we move onto the atomic operation interfaces typically implemented with
the help of assembly code.

0 comments on commit 182dd4b

Please sign in to comment.