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SubjectRe: HAVE_EFFICIENT_UNALIGNED_ACCESS on ARM32 (was: Alignment issues in zImage with Linux 4.12, LZ4 and GCC5.3)
On Mon, Sep 4, 2017 at 6:19 PM, Romain Izard <> wrote:
> 2017-07-24 13:07 GMT+02:00 Ard Biesheuvel <>:
>> On 24 July 2017 at 11:57, Romain Izard <> wrote:
>>> While upgrading the kernel from 4.9 to 4.12 for a custom board with a
>>> Cortex-A5 based CPU, I have encountered a compilation issue that leads to
>>> a data abort during the execution of the LZ4 decompression code in
>>> zImage.
>>> [...]
>>> The compilation options are a little different between both cases:
>>> The library is built with -O3, whereas the zImage decompressor is built
>>> with -O2, -DDISABLE_BRANCH_PROFILING, -fpic, -mno-single-pic-base,
>>> -fno-builtin. All other compilation options are shared in both cases.
> This is a red herring: the critical option here is '-fno-builtin'. If it is
> not set, the bug disappears. It also disappears if we replace it with
> '-fno-builtin-putc'. But it only changes the optimizations applied by
> the compiler itself, and cannot explain the issue.
> Before updating the LZ4 decompressor, the LZ4 header contained specific
> code for handling alignment issues, which has been changed.
>>> For Linux 4.9, the LZ4 decompressor code is completely different, which
>>> explains why the issue appeared when changing kernel versions.
>> I see some void* to u32* casts in the new code, which makes me think
>> that it is perhaps not valid C, and has maybe not been tested on an
>> architecture that has stricter alignment requirements than x86?
> I can reproduce it easily on v4.13 with GCC6.3:
> - Configure with allnoconfig
> - Check the generated assembly for arch/arm/boot/compressed/decompress.o:
> In the LZ4_decompress_fast function, the memory access after the third
> branch uses ldm and stm. This is invalid, as the addresses can be unaligned.
> With this configuration, HAVE_EFFICIENT_UNALIGNED_ACCESS is set, but this is
> wrong. On 32-bit ARM, the compiler is free to generate LDM or LDRD access
> that will always fail on unaligned addresses. In this case, we have two
> LDR/STR access to adjascent addresses that appear in inline code. The
> get_unaligned functions in "include/linux/unaligned/access_ok.h" cast the
> pointers directly as regular 32-bit access, and as those are by default
> aligned, the compiler will optimise and combine the access.
> If we use the functions from "include/linux/unaligned/le_struct.h", the
> get_unaligned() function correctly tells the compiler that the access is
> special, and that it should not merge memory access. But we do not fall back
> to byte-by-byte access, as the compiler itself knows how to use 32-bit
> access when -funaligned-access is set (by default for ARMv7).

Right, I've come across this in the past as well.

> The issue is probably hidden by the kernel fault handler in normal kernel
> code, but for this case it does nothing as we are working in the boot
> decompressor, that cannot use the fault handler. But it should have a
> performance inpact.
> As a result, this means that HAVE_EFFICIENT_UNALIGNED_ACCESS should not
> be set at least in the context of "include/asm-generic/unaligned.h". But
> as this option is also used in other places, where it is not related to
> the get_unaligned functions, it is not possible to remove it on ARM 32-bit
> without further study.

This is a patch I prototyped in the past

I'm not entirely sure if this produces good object code with all compilers
on all architectures, but it should solve the problem you observed and


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