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SubjectRe: PTE access rules & abstraction

> I didn't change the function of that code when I made the change, so the
> bug was pre-existing; I think it has been like that for quite a while
> (though I haven't done any git archaeology to back that up). So I don't
> think there's a new bug here.
> What's the consequence of not flushing for you?

The bug may have been there, as I said, lots of unwritten rules...
sometimes broken. I'm not necessarily blaming you, but there have been
lots of changes to the PTE accessors over the last 2 years and not
always under any control :-)

In our case, the consequence is that the entry can be re-hashed because
the fact that it was already hashed and where it was hashed, which is
encoded in the PTE, gets lost by the clear. That means a potential
duplicate entry in the hash. A hard to hit race, but possible. Such a
condition is architecturally illegal and can cause things ranging from
incorrect translation to machine checks or checkstops (generally, on
LPAR machines, what will happen is your partition will get killed).

I know s390 has different issues & constraints. Martin told me during
Plumbers that mprotect was probably also broken for him.

> There have been a few optional-extras calls, which are all fine to leave
> as no-ops. I don't think we've added or changed any must-have interfaces.

Again, I'm not necessarily talking about the very latest round of
changes that you did here... More like a general approach as trying to
find a better overall interface to PTE access which currently is a total
mess as far as I'm concerned.

> It seems to me that the rules are roughly "anything goes while you're
> holding the pte lock, but it all must be sane by the time you release
> it". But a bit more precision would be useful.

Well, unfortunately it's a lot more complex than that. For example, on
powerpc, we have to keep the hash table in sync and hash misses don't
take the PTE lock. They are aking to a non-atomic HW walk of the page
tables if you prefer.

So we must be careful about things like never replacing a PTE without
first flushing the hash table entry for the previous one (if it was
hashed). We also need to ensure we flush before we unlock, but we do
that by re-using the new lazy MMU hooks, as to not insert a new PTE
(which can potentially be hashed).

s390 has more complex sets of rules.

> I don't know if there's any such rule regarding set_pte_at(). Certainly
> if you were overwriting an existing valid entry, you'd have to arrange
> for a tlb flush.

Well, for example, the generic copy-on-write case used to do just that,
ie set_pte_at() over the previous one, then flush. That is not good for
us and thus our set_pte_at() has special code to check whether there's
already a present PTE there and does a synchronous flush if there is.

However, that also changed, and nowadays, afaik, set_pte_at() is never
called anymore to override a already present PTE.

We are doing some work on 32 bits code that will need similar
constraints and It would be nice if we could rely on the above and make
it part of the rules.

> Do you have a reference to Nick's proposals?

Not off hand, Nick ? How far did you go down that path ?

> A higher level interface might give us virtualization people more scope
> to play with things. But given that the current interface mostly works
> for everyone, a high level interface would tend to result in a lot of
> duplicated code unless you pretty strictly stipluate something like
> "implement the highest level interface you need *and no higher*; use
> common library code for everything else".
> I think documenting the real rules for the current interface would be a
> more immediately fruitful path to start with.

Well, part of the problem is that with the current interface, some
architectures are really mostly hacking around, and in some case,
possibly losing potential performance benefits by not having a slightly
more abstracted interface.

I don't think we should ditch the page tables in favor of some kind of
abstract memory objects, don't get me wrong :-) But having a more
generic higher level set of transactional interfaces to modifying and
flushing PTEs would probably help. Instead we are doing as-hoc hacks
left and right mostly based on how things work on x86.


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