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SubjectRe: [PATCH RFC tip/core/rcu 06/11] smp: Document transitivity for memory barriers.
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On Tue, 2011-02-22 at 17:39 -0800, Paul E. McKenney wrote:
> Transitivity is guaranteed only for full memory barriers (smp_mb()).
>
> Signed-off-by: Paul E. McKenney <paulmck@linux.vnet.ibm.com>
> ---
> Documentation/memory-barriers.txt | 58 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> 1 files changed, 58 insertions(+), 0 deletions(-)
>
> diff --git a/Documentation/memory-barriers.txt b/Documentation/memory-barriers.txt
> index 631ad2f..f0d3a80 100644
> --- a/Documentation/memory-barriers.txt
> +++ b/Documentation/memory-barriers.txt
> @@ -21,6 +21,7 @@ Contents:
> - SMP barrier pairing.
> - Examples of memory barrier sequences.
> - Read memory barriers vs load speculation.
> + - Transitivity
>
> (*) Explicit kernel barriers.
>
> @@ -959,6 +960,63 @@ the speculation will be cancelled and the value reloaded:
> retrieved : : +-------+
>
>
> +TRANSITIVITY
> +------------
> +
> +Transitivity is a deeply intuitive notion about ordering that is not
> +always provided by real computer systems. The following example
> +demonstrates transitivity (also called "cumulativity"):
> +
> + CPU 1 CPU 2 CPU 3
> + ======================= ======================= =======================
> + { X = 0, Y = 0 }
> + STORE X=1 LOAD X STORE Y=1
> + <general barrier> <general barrier>
> + LOAD Y LOAD X
> +
> +Suppose that CPU 2's load from X returns 1 and its load from Y returns 0.
> +This indicates that CPU 2's load from X in some sense follows CPU 1's
> +store to X and that CPU 2's load from Y in some sense preceded CPU 3's
> +store to Y. The question is then "Can CPU 3's load from X return 0?"
> +
> +Because CPU 2's load from X in some sense came after CPU 1's store, it
> +is natural to expect that CPU 3's load from X must therefore return 1.
> +This expectation is an example of transitivity: if a load executing on
> +CPU A follows a load from the same variable executing on CPU B, then
> +CPU A's load must either return the same value that CPU B's load did,
> +or must return some later value.
> +
> +In the Linux kernel, use of general memory barriers guarantees
> +transitivity. Therefore, in the above example, if CPU 2's load from X
> +returns 1 and its load from Y returns 0, then CPU 3's load from X must
> +also return 1.
> +
> +However, transitivity is -not- guaranteed for read or write barriers.
> +For example, suppose that CPU 2's general barrier in the above example
> +is changed to a read barrier as shown below:
> +
> + CPU 1 CPU 2 CPU 3
> + ======================= ======================= =======================
> + { X = 0, Y = 0 }
> + STORE X=1 LOAD X STORE Y=1
> + <read barrier> <general barrier>
> + LOAD Y LOAD X
> +
> +This substitution destroys transitivity: in this example, it is perfectly
> +legal for CPU 2's load from X to return 1, its load from Y to return 0,
> +and CPU 3's load from X to return 0.
> +
> +The key point is that although CPU 2's read barrier orders its pair
> +of loads, it does not guarantee to order CPU 1's store. Therefore, if
> +this example runs on a system where CPUs 1 and 2 share a store buffer
> +or a level of cache, CPU 2 might have early access to CPU 1's writes.
> +General barriers are therefore required to ensure that all CPUs agree
> +on the combined order of CPU 1's and CPU 2's accesses.

Sounds like someone had a fun time debugging their code.

> +
> +To reiterate, if your code requires transitivity, use general barriers
> +throughout.

I expect that your code is the only code in the kernel that actually
requires transitivity ;-)

-- Steve

> +
> +
> ========================
> EXPLICIT KERNEL BARRIERS
> ========================




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