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SubjectRE: [PATCH] smp_call_function_many SMP race


I managed to forget all about this bug, probably because of how much it
makes my brain hurt.

The issue is not that we use RCU, but that we use RCU on a static data
structure that gets reused without waiting for an RCU grace period.
Another way to solve this bug would be to dynamically allocate the
structure, assuming we are OK with the overhead.


From: Anton Blanchard <>

I noticed a failure where we hit the following WARN_ON in

if (!cpumask_test_and_clear_cpu(cpu, data->cpumask))


refs = atomic_dec_return(&data->refs);
WARN_ON(refs < 0); <-------------------------

We atomically tested and cleared our bit in the cpumask, and yet the
number of cpus left (ie refs) was 0. How can this be?

It turns out commit 54fdade1c3332391948ec43530c02c4794a38172
(generic-ipi: make struct call_function_data lockless)
is at fault. It removes locking from smp_call_function_many and in
doing so creates a rather complicated race.

The problem comes about because:

- The smp_call_function_many interrupt handler walks call_function.queue
without any locking.
- We reuse a percpu data structure in smp_call_function_many.
- We do not wait for any RCU grace period before starting the next

Imagine a scenario where CPU A does two smp_call_functions back to
back, and CPU B does an smp_call_function in between. We concentrate on
how CPU C handles the calls:


call_function.queue sees CPU A on list


call_function.queue sees
(stale) CPU A on list
smp_call_function reuses
percpu *data set
data->cpumask sees and
clears bit in cpumask!
sees data->refs is 0!

set data->refs (too late!)

The important thing to note is since the interrupt handler walks a
potentially stale call_function.queue without any locking, then another
cpu can view the percpu *data structure at any time, even when the
owner is in the process of initialising it.

The following test case hits the WARN_ON 100% of the time on my PowerPC
box (having 128 threads does help :)

#include <linux/module.h>
#include <linux/init.h>

#define ITERATIONS 100

static void do_nothing_ipi(void *dummy)

static void do_ipis(struct work_struct *dummy)
int i;

for (i = 0; i < ITERATIONS; i++)
smp_call_function(do_nothing_ipi, NULL, 1);

printk(KERN_DEBUG "cpu %d finished\n", smp_processor_id());

static struct work_struct work[NR_CPUS];

static int __init testcase_init(void)
int cpu;

for_each_online_cpu(cpu) {
INIT_WORK(&work[cpu], do_ipis);
schedule_work_on(cpu, &work[cpu]);

return 0;

static void __exit testcase_exit(void)

MODULE_AUTHOR("Anton Blanchard");

I tried to fix it by ordering the read and the write of ->cpumask and
->refs. In doing so I missed a critical case but Paul McKenney was able
to spot my bug thankfully :) To ensure we arent viewing previous
iterations the interrupt handler needs to read ->refs then ->cpumask
then ->refs _again_.

Thanks to Milton Miller and Paul McKenney for helping to debug this


Index: linux-2.6/kernel/smp.c
--- linux-2.6.orig/kernel/smp.c 2010-12-22 17:19:11.262835785 +1100
+++ linux-2.6/kernel/smp.c 2011-01-12 15:03:08.793324402 +1100
@@ -194,6 +194,31 @@ void generic_smp_call_function_interrupt
list_for_each_entry_rcu(data, &call_function.queue, csd.list) {
int refs;

+ /*
+ * Since we walk the list without any locks, we might
+ * see an entry that was completed, removed from the
+ * list and is in the process of being reused.
+ *
+ * Just checking data->refs then data->cpumask is not good
+ * enough because we could see a non zero data->refs from a
+ * previous iteration. We need to check data->refs, then
+ * data->cpumask then data->refs again. Talk about
+ * complicated!
+ */
+ if (atomic_read(&data->refs) == 0)
+ continue;
+ smp_rmb();
+ if (!cpumask_test_cpu(cpu, data->cpumask))
+ continue;
+ smp_rmb();
+ if (atomic_read(&data->refs) == 0)
+ continue;
if (!cpumask_test_and_clear_cpu(cpu, data->cpumask))

@@ -458,6 +483,14 @@ void smp_call_function_many(const struct
data-> = info;
cpumask_and(data->cpumask, mask, cpu_online_mask);
cpumask_clear_cpu(this_cpu, data->cpumask);
+ /*
+ * To ensure the interrupt handler gets an up to date view
+ * we order the cpumask and refs writes and order the
+ * read of them in the interrupt handler.
+ */
+ smp_wmb();
atomic_set(&data->refs, cpumask_weight(data->cpumask));

raw_spin_lock_irqsave(&call_function.lock, flags);

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