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SubjectRe: [PATCH] Document Linux's memory barriers [try #5]
On Thu, Mar 16, 2006 at 03:55:07PM -0800, Linus Torvalds wrote:
>
>
> On Thu, 16 Mar 2006, Paul E. McKenney wrote:
> >
> > Also, I have some verbiage and diagrams of Alpha's operation at
> > http://www.rdrop.com/users/paulmck/scalability/paper/ordering.2006.03.13a.pdf
> > Feel free to take any that helps. (Source for paper is Latex and xfig,
> > for whatever that is worth.)
>
> This paper too claims that x86-64 has somehow different memory ordering
> constraints than regular x86. Do you actually have a source for that
> statement, or is it just a continuation of what looks like confusion in
> the Linux x86-64 header files?

I based the table in that paper on "AMD x86-64 Architecture Programmer's
Manual, Volume 2: System Programming", AMD publication #24593 rev 3.07
published in September 2002. This is a hardcopy (but soft-bound) book.

In section 7.1.1 on page 195, it says:

For cacheable memory types, the following rules govern
read ordering:

o Out-of-order reads are allowed. Out-of-order reads
can occur as a result of out-of-order instruction
execution or speculative execution. The processor
can read memory out-of-order to allow out-of-order
to proceed.

o Speculative reads are allows ... [but no effect on
ordering beyond that given in the other rules, near
as I can tell]

o Reads can be reordered ahead of writes. Reads are
generally given a higher priority by the processor
than writes because instruction execution stalls
if the read data required by an instruction is not
immediately available. Allowing reads ahead of
writes usually maximizes software performance.

o [additional constraints if read and write are to
the same location]

In section 7.1.2 on pages 195-6, it says:

o Generally, out-of-order writes are -not- allowed.
Write instructions executed out of order cannot
commit (write) their result to memory until all
previous instructions have completed in program
order. The processor can, however, hold the
result of an out-of-order write instruction in
a private buffer (not visible to software) until
that result can be committed to memory.

o [write-combining memory -- but we are not talking
about frame buffers.]

o Speculative writes are -not- allowed. As with
out-of-order writes, speculative write instructions
cannot commit their result to memory until all
previous instructions have completed in program
order. Processors can hold the result in a
private buffer (not visible to the software) until
the result can be committed.

o Write buffering is allowed. When a write instruction
completes and commits its result, that result can be
buffered before actually writing the result into a
memory location in program order. Although the write
buffer itself is not directly accessible by software,
the results in the buffer are accessible during
memory accesses to he locations that are buffered.
For cacheable memory types, the write buffer can
be read out-of-order and speculatively read, just like
memory.

o Write combining is allowed ... [but we aren't worried
about frame buffers.]

Of course, I might well have misinterpreted something. It would not
be the first time. ;-)

> (Also, x86 doesn't have an incoherent instruction cache - some older x86
> cores have an incoherent instruction decode _buffer_, but that's a
> slightly different issue with basically no effect on any sane program).

Newer cores check the linear address, so code generated in a different
address space now needs to do CPUID. This is admittedly an unusual
case -- perhaps I was getting overly worked up about it. I based this
on Section 10.6 on page 10-21 (physical page 405) of Intel's "IA-32
Intel Architecture Software Developer's Manual Volume 3: System
Programming Guide", 2004. PDF available (as of 2/16/2005) from:

ftp://download.intel.com/design/Pentium4/manuals/25366814.pdf

Thanx, Paul
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