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SubjectRe: [PATCH] documentation: explain memory barriers
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On Fri, 10 Oct 2008 04:35:47 +1100, Nick Piggin said:
> On Thursday 09 October 2008 12:50, Valdis.Kletnieks@vt.edu wrote:
> > On Wed, 08 Oct 2008 18:12:23 PDT, Randy Dunlap said:
> > > +
> > > +24: All memory barriers {e.g., barrier(), rmb(), wmb()} need a comment
> > > in the + source code that explains the logic of what they are doing
> > > and why.
> >
> > "what they are doing" will almost always be "flush value to RAM" or
> > similar.
>
> Memory barriers don't flush anything anywhere.

That's what I get for commenting on stuff when I'm into a 40-hour week by
Wednesday. :)

I was speaking of the generic programmer who does stuff like:

x = 10; /* set x to 10 */

for "what they are doing". You know the type. ;)

"flush value to RAM", "force memory barrier operation", and I think I've seen
a few kzalloc()'s that have "allocate zero'ed memory" on them. "what they are
doing" is usually not worth writing down, but being verbose for the *why*
is almost always good, especially for things like memory barriers that
almost nobody can get their brains wrapped around (how many flame-fests per
year do we have about "volatile"? ;)

> /*
> * If we don't do a wmb() here, the store to the RBFROBNIZ,
> * above, might reach the device before the store X, below.
> *
> * If that happens, then the XU293 card will get confused
> * and wedge the hardware...
> */
> wmb();
>
> If you don't comment like that, then how does the reader know that the wmb
> is not *also* supposed to order the store with any other of the limitless
> subsequent stores until the next memory ordering operation? Or any of the
> previous stores since the last one?

Even better (as I missed the "also supposed to know" case). My general point
was that a concrete example would improve Randy's original patch by showing
what sort of things should be in the comment, and your correction pointed
out *why* a concrete example was needed. ;)

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