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SubjectRe: [PATCH RFC/RFB] x86_64, i386: interrupt dispatch changes

On Tue, 4 Nov 2008 17:36:36 +0100, "Ingo Molnar" <> said:
> * Alexander van Heukelum <> wrote:
> > I wonder how the time needed for reading the GDT segments balances
> > against the time needed due to the extra redirection due to running
> > the stubs. I'ld be interested if the difference can be measured with
> > the current implementation. (I really need to highjack a machine to
> > do some measurements; I hoped someone would do it before I got to it
> > ;) )
> >
> > Even if some CPU's have some internal optimization for the case
> > where the gate segment is the same as the current one, I wonder if
> > it is really important... Interrupts that occur while the processor
> > is running userspace already cause changing segments. They are more
> > likely to be in cache, maybe.
> there are three main factors:
> - Same-value segment loads are optimized on most modern CPUs and can
> give a few cycles (2-3) advantage. That might or might not apply to
> the microcode that does IRQ entry processing. (A cache miss will
> increase the cost much more but that is true in general as well)
> - A second effect is that the changed data structure layout: a more
> compressed GDT entry (6 bytes) against a more spread out (~7 bytes,
> not aligned) interrupt trampoline. Note that the first one is data
> cache the second one is instruction cache - the two have different
> sizes, different implementations and different hit/miss pressures.
> Generally the instruction-cache is the more precious resource and we
> optimize for that first, for data cache second.
> - A third effect is branch prediction: currently we are fanning
> out all the vectors into ~240 branches just to recover a single
> constant in essence. That is quite wasteful of instruction cache
> resources, because from the logic side it's a data constant, not a
> control flow difference. (we demultiplex that number into an
> interrupt handler later on, but the CPU has no knowledge of that
> relationship)
> ... all in one, the situation is complex enough on the CPU
> architecture side for it to really necessiate a measurement in
> practice, and that's why i have asked you to do them: the numbers need
> to go hand in hand with the patch submission.
> My estimation is that if we do it right, your approach will behave
> better on modern CPUs (which is what matters most for such things),
> especially on real workloads where there's a considerable
> instruction-cache pressure. But it should be measured in any case.

Fully agreed. I will do some measurements in the near future, maybe
next week. At least noone came up with an absolutely blocking problem
with this approach ;).


> Ingo
Alexander van Heukelum

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