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Jesse Pollard <> on 07/11/2001 01:08:02 AM

To:, Timur Tabi <>
cc: (bcc: Amol Lad/HSS)

Subject: Re: What is the truth about Linux 2.4's RAM limitations?

"Richard B. Johnson" <>
> In Unix and Unix variants, it is by design, provided that the
> kernel exist within every process address space. Early Nixes
> like Ultrix, simply called the kernel entry point. Since it
> was protected, this trapped to the real kernel and the page-fault
> handler actually performed the work on behalf of the caller.
> Unlike some OS (like VMS), a context-switch does not occur
> when the kernel provides services for the calling task.
> Therefore, it was most reasonable to have the kernel exist within
> each tasks address space. With modern processors, it doesn't make
> very much difference, you could have user space start at virtual
> address 0 and extend to virtual address 0xffffffff. However, this would
> not be Unix. It would also force the kernel to use additional
> CPU cycles when addressing a tasks virtual address space,
> i.e., when data are copied to/from user to kernel space.

I believe the VAX/VMS implementation shared OS and user space:

p0 - user application 0
p1 - system shared libraries 0x3fffffff
p2 - kernel 0x7fffffff
rest was I/O, cache memory 0xffffffff

It was a hardware design, not a function of the software.

UNIX origins were on a PDP-11. there were two sets of addressing registers
1 kernel, 1 user (except on 11/45 - 1 kernel, 1 user, 1 "executive"
(never used except in some really strange form of extented shared library)

A full context switch was required. Kernel had to map a single 4KW window
to the user space for access to the parameters. Another 4KW window was used
to map the IO space. The remaining 6 mapping registers were used for supporting
the kernel virtual address. BTW, 1 KW = 2K Bytes, a mapping register could
map anything from 16 bytes to 8K bytes, if I remember correctly. The PDP 11
with memory management only had 16 mapping registers (8 user, 8 kernel) with
a maximum address of 64K bytes (16 bit addresses... my how far we've come).
The base hardware could only handle a maximum of 256 K bytes. More recent
cpu's expanded the size of the mapping registers (more bits/register) but did
not increase the number of registers. The last system (PDP-11/70 level) could
handle 4 MB of physical memory, but with all of the restrictions of the small
systems, just more processes were handled.

It was not possible to share memory between kernel/user other than that one
4KW window. The Linux 3G/1G split is a design choice for speed. It would still
be Linux even if it did 4G/0, just a different MM architecture with a lot
more overhead on intel x86 hardware.
>>>>> Can you please write what exactly the 'overhead' is and how the same
overhead is not there in 3G/1G split

Jesse I Pollard, II

Any opinions expressed are solely my own.
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