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SubjectRe: TSCs are a no-no on i386
On Thu, 31 Jul 2003, Jamie Lokier wrote:

> Willy Tarreau wrote:
> > The other problem lies with the lock :
> > When a 486 executes "LOCK ; CMPXCHG", it locks the bus during the whole cmpxchg
> > instruction. If a 386 executes the same code, it will get an exception which
> > will be caught by the emulator. I don't see how we can do such an atomic
> > operation while holding a lock. At best, we would think about a global memory
> > based shared lock during the operation (eg: int bus_lock;), but it's not
> > implemented at the moment, and will only be compatible with processors sharing
> > the same code. Add-on processors, such as co-processors, transputer cards, or
> > DSPs, will know nothing about such a lock emulation. And it would result in
> > even poorer performance of course !
> Of course this is not a problem when "lock;cmpxchg" is used only for thread
> synchronisation on uniprocessor 386s... The lock prefix is irrelevant then.
> Perhaps the emulation should refuse to pretend to work on an SMP 386 :)
> -- Jamie
> -

You can use the lock instruction ahead of any 386 instruction
without creating an exception. When relevent, it locks the whole
bus. When not, it's just a no-op. The trap on the lock instruction
came with the '486. With the '486, if the instruction doesn't
modify memory, then the lock prefix is invalid and will generate
an invalid-opcode exception.

It is not correct to use a lock instruction in front of every
op-code of course, and it might not have been tested for all
corner cases, but generally it's harmless on a '386.

The bad op-code for the i386 is cmpxchg. This is what triggers
the trap. This can be emulated, although the emulation is
not SMP compatible. You worry about this when somebody makes
a dual '386 machine ;^). Also, the best performing emulation
for any op-codes should be done within the kernel. That way,
the invalid-opcode trap works just like the math emulator. You
don't need the overhead of calling a user-mode handler. If
this is emulation is implimented, then one should also emulate
BSWAP and XADD. This makes '486 code compatible with '386

Dick Johnson
Penguin : Linux version 2.4.20 on an i686 machine (797.90 BogoMips).
Note 96.31% of all statistics are fiction.

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