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SubjectRe: [patch 04/15] Generic Mutex Subsystem, add-atomic-call-func-x86_64.patch
On Wed, 21 Dec 2005, Nick Piggin wrote:

> Nicolas Pitre wrote:
> > On Wed, 21 Dec 2005, Nick Piggin wrote:
> >
> >
> > > Nicolas Pitre wrote:
> > >
> > > > On Tue, 20 Dec 2005, Nick Piggin wrote:
> > >
> > > > > Considering that on UP, the arm should not need to disable interrupts
> > > > > for this function (or has someone refuted Linus?), how about:
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > Kernel preemption.
> > > >
> > >
> > > preempt_disable() ?
> >
> >
> > Sure, and we're now more costly than the current implementation with irq
> > disabling.
> >
> Why? It is just a plain increment of a location that will almost certainly
> be in cache. I can't see how it would be more than half the cost of the
> irq implementation (based on looking at your measurements). How do you
> figure?

ARM is a load/store architecture. So the preempt_count has to be
loaded, incremented, and stored back (3 instructions just there). Then
the preempt_count itself isn't straight there, it is reached with the
thread_info pointer which requires 2 additional instructions to
generate. So we're already up to 5 instructions while the disabling of
interrupts takes 3.

OK now we want to decrement the semaphore count. One load, one
decrement, one store, i.e. 3 more instructions. We're up to 8.

Oh and we're still supposed to be in a fast path. And we even aren't
ready to decide if we acquired the semaphore just yet.

Now we have to call preempt_enable(). Given that preempt_count() will
use 2 instructions again to get to the thread_info pointer, let's say
for the demonstration that we instead open coded our own
preempt_enable() and preempt_disable() so to be able to cache the
thread_info pointer amongst those two. So let's forget about those 2
additional instructions.

Let's also suppose that we preserved the original preempt count so that
we don't have to re-load and decrement it which would have used 2 other
additional instructions. Good! But register pressure is increasing,
and btw we're using completely non generic kernel infrastructure at this

We nevertheless still have to store the original preempt count back.
One instruction i.e. we're up to 9.

And with 9 instructions we're already worse than the implementation with
interrupt disabling. Maybe not in terms of cycles but hey we're not
done yet!

Any preempt_enable() equivalent look at the TIF_NEED_RESCHED flag
(luckily we still have the thread_info pointer handy since we're not
using test_thread_flag() but loading the flag directly i.e. one
instruction), testing it (one instruction), conditionally branching to
preempt_schedule (one instruction). Now up to 12 instructions. Amd to
make things even worse: since the flag has to be tested right after it
has been loaded you must account for result delays (more cycles) for the

OK, did we acquire that damn semaphore or not? Oh since we clobbered
the processor's condition flag while testing the TIF_NEED_RESCHED flag
we are now forced to test that semaphore count again to see if it went
negative: one instruction. And finally branch to the contention routine
if the semaphore was already locked: one instruction.

So 14 instructions total with preemption disabling, and that's with the
best implementation possible by open coding everything instead of
relying on generic functions/macros.

Compare that to my 4 (or 3 when gcc can cse a constant)
instructions needed for the mutex equivalent.

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