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SubjectRe: [RFC][PATCH 1/5] hw-breakpoints: Make kernel breakpoints API truly generic
On Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 01:08:03PM -0400, Frederic Weisbecker wrote:
> To define a kernel hardware breakpoint, one need to define the
> address, type and length of the breakpoint using arch specific
> operations and then register it using a core helper.
>
> The first stage is truly not scalable with respect to the number of
> archictures, because for each of them that support hardware
> breakpoints, we would need a seperate specific field definition for
> the breakpoint.
>
> However, the supported breakpoint functionalities may be very different
> between architectures.
> Then this new API tries to compose with the following constraints:
>
> - a given architecture may perhaps not support the triggering on one
> of the usual memory access (read-write/read/write/execute)
>
> - a given architecture may perhaps not support the ability to trigger
> a breakpoint only on specific memory access size lower than the word
> size for this arch.
>
> - a given architecture may perhaps not support breakpoints on addresses
> range.
>
> The new API changes the following prototype for a kernel breakpoint
> registration:
>
> int register_kernel_hw_breakpoint(struct hw_breakpoint *bp)
>
> into:
>
> int register_kernel_hw_breakpoint(struct hw_breakpoint *bp,
> unsigned long addr,
> int len, enum breakpoint_type type)

It is not clear how adding these new parameters to the interface would
help it become generic, as opposed to moving them to 'struct
hw_breakpoint'.

It would make the usage cumbersome of some architectures - say for
instance the PPC64 which always has a breakpoint length of 8 bytes. So
the user needs to specify either '8' always or '0' to indicate variable
length not supported (but it is counter-intuitive..may be interpreted as
zero-length).

>
> The choice of passing the breakpoint settings as parameters of the
> registration helper and not by adding generic fields into the breakpoint
> structure is motivated by the need of a very specific per arch
> representation of the breakpoint:
>
> - the arch may only need an address, but could also need a couple for
> breakpoints in ranges.
> - the type is subject to arch interpretation (values of debug registers)
> - the length too.
>
> Then, to get back these values from a generic breakpoint structure that have
> specific encodings into the arch fields, this API comes along with abstract
> accessors which implementation is arch specific:
>
> - type hw_breakpoint_type(bp)
> - addr hw_breakpoint_addr(bp)
>
> However, open debates come along this RFC patch:
>
> - the address could be a generic field in struct hw_breakpoint. If we
> are dealing with a range breakpoint, then we would just need to
> compute addr + length to get the end of the range.
>
> - the length and type could also be generic fields of
> struct hw_breakpoint. It would then be up to the arch to get a
> translation between such generic values and per arch needs.
>

While the issues have been enumerated above, the patchset only pushes
the issue into a different domain i.e. make the user determine if a
breakpoint type or len is supported in a given architecture vs the existing
implementation in which the user determines if a constant pertaining to
a given len/type is defined. But the accessor-routines
hw_breakpoint_type() and hw_breakpoint_addr() make it much easier to use
and is a good addition.

To make the usage much easier, I would see a combination of the
following:

- Define constants/enums for length and type that are common to all
architectures.
- Define accessor routines that help determine if a given type/len is
supported on the host processor.
- Move fields such as address, len and type to generic breakpoint
structure (if it still matters despite the two changes above).

Let me know what you think.

Thanks,
K.Prasad



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