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SubjectRe: [PATCH] i386 No-Idle-Hz aka Dynamic-Ticks 5
Bill Davidsen wrote:
> George Anzinger wrote:
>> Srivatsa Vaddagiri wrote:
>>> On Tue, Aug 09, 2005 at 12:36:58PM -0700, George Anzinger wrote:
>>>> IMNOHO, this is the ONLY way to keep proper time. As soon as you
>>>> reprogram the PIT you have lost track of the time.
>>> George,
>>> Can't TSC (or equivalent) serve as a backup while PIT is disabled,
>>> especially considering that we disable PIT only for short duration in
>>> practice (few seconds maybe) _and_ that we don't have HRT support yet?
>> I think it really depends on what you want. If you really want to
>> keep good time, the only rock in town is the one connected to the PIT
>> (and the pmtimer). The problem is, if you want the jiffie edge to be
>> stable, there is just now way to reprogram the PIT to get it back to
>> where it was.
>> In an old version of HRT I did a trick of loading a short count (based
>> on reading the TSC or pmtimer) and then put the LATCH count on top of
>> it. In a correctly performing PIT, it should count down the short
>> count, interrupt, load the long count and continue from there. Aside
>> from the machines that had BAD PITs (they reset on the load instead of
>> the expiry of the current count) there were other problems that, in
>> the end, cause loss of time (too fast, too slow, take your pick). I
>> also found PITs that signaled that they had loaded the count (they set
>> a status bit) prior to actually loading it. All in all, I find the
>> PIT is just an ugly beast to try to program. On the other hand, if
>> you want regular interrupts at some fixed period, it will do this
>> forever (give or take a epoch or two;) with out touching anything
>> after the initial program set up.
>> In the end, I concluded that, for the community kernel, it is really
>> best to just interrupt the irq line and leave the PIT run. Then you
>> use the TSC or pmtimer to figure the gross loss of interrupts and
>> leave the PIT interrupt again to define the jiffie edge. If you have
>> other, more pressing, concerns I suppose you can program the PIT, but
>> don't expect your wall clock to be as stable as it is now.
> What are the portability and scaling issues if it were done this way? It
> clearly looks practical on x86 uni, but if we want per-CPU non-tick, I'm
> less sure how it would work.

I am not sure how much is involved. For VST I disabled the tick
generated NMI watchdog interrupt on a per cpu basis but stopped the PIT
tick only when all cpus were idle. The next step would be to mess with
the interrupt steering logic to keep the tick away from idle cpus. I
did not get into this level in my work, being mainly interested in
embedded systems.
> But when you go to non-x86 hardware, is there always going to be another
> source of wakeup available if the PIT is blocked instead of reset? I
> have to go back and look at how SPARC hardware works, I don't remember
> enough to be useful.

Most (all) other archs don't have PITs. The x86 sucks big time when it
comes to time keeping hardware. The most common hardware is a counter
that runs forever (much as the TSC but FIXED in frequency). Interrupts
are generated either by comparing a register to this or using companion
counters that just count down to zero. In either case you don't loose
time because you can always precisely set up an interrupt. To sleep,
then, you just set your sleep time in the normal time base interrupt
counter. At the end, you know exactly what to set to get back to the
regular tick.

These other platforms make VST and High Res Timers so easy...
George Anzinger
HRT (High-res-timers):
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