[lkml]   [2020]   [Mar]   [25]   [last100]   RSS Feed
Views: [wrap][no wrap]   [headers]  [forward] 
Messages in this thread
Patch in this message
SubjectDocumentation/locking/locktypes: Further clarifications and wordsmithing
The documentation of rw_semaphores is wrong as it claims that the non-owner
reader release is not supported by RT. That's just history biased memory

Split the 'Owner semantics' section up and add separate sections for
semaphore and rw_semaphore to reflect reality.

Aside of that the following updates are done:

- Add pseudo code to document the spinlock state preserving mechanism on

- Wordsmith the bitspinlock and lock nesting sections

Co-developed-by: Paul McKenney <>
Signed-off-by: Paul McKenney <>
Signed-off-by: Thomas Gleixner <>
Documentation/locking/locktypes.rst | 150 +++++++++++++++++++++++-------------
1 file changed, 99 insertions(+), 51 deletions(-)

--- a/Documentation/locking/locktypes.rst
+++ b/Documentation/locking/locktypes.rst
@@ -67,6 +67,17 @@ Spinning locks implicitly disable preemp
_irqsave/restore() Save and disable / restore interrupt disabled state
=================== ====================================================

+Owner semantics
+The aforementioned lock types except semaphores have strict owner
+ The context (task) that acquired the lock must release it.
+rw_semaphores have a special interface which allows non-owner release for

@@ -83,6 +94,51 @@ interrupt handlers and soft interrupts.
and rwlock_t to be implemented via RT-mutexes.

+semaphore is a counting semaphore implementation.
+Semaphores are often used for both serialization and waiting, but new use
+cases should instead use separate serialization and wait mechanisms, such
+as mutexes and completions.
+semaphores and PREEMPT_RT
+PREEMPT_RT does not change the semaphore implementation because counting
+semaphores have no concept of owners, thus preventing PREEMPT_RT from
+providing priority inheritance for semaphores. After all, an unknown
+owner cannot be boosted. As a consequence, blocking on semaphores can
+result in priority inversion.
+rw_semaphore is a multiple readers and single writer lock mechanism.
+On non-PREEMPT_RT kernels the implementation is fair, thus preventing
+writer starvation.
+rw_semaphore complies by default with the strict owner semantics, but there
+exist special-purpose interfaces that allow non-owner release for readers.
+These work independent of the kernel configuration.
+rw_semaphore and PREEMPT_RT
+PREEMPT_RT kernels map rw_semaphore to a separate rt_mutex-based
+implementation, thus changing the fairness:
+ Because an rw_semaphore writer cannot grant its priority to multiple
+ readers, a preempted low-priority reader will continue holding its lock,
+ thus starving even high-priority writers. In contrast, because readers
+ can grant their priority to a writer, a preempted low-priority writer will
+ have its priority boosted until it releases the lock, thus preventing that
+ writer from starving readers.
raw_spinlock_t and spinlock_t

@@ -102,7 +158,7 @@ critical section is tiny, thus avoiding

-The semantics of spinlock_t change with the state of CONFIG_PREEMPT_RT.
+The semantics of spinlock_t change with the state of PREEMPT_RT.

On a non PREEMPT_RT enabled kernel spinlock_t is mapped to raw_spinlock_t
and has exactly the same semantics.
@@ -140,7 +196,16 @@ On a PREEMPT_RT enabled kernel spinlock_
kernels leave task state untouched. However, PREEMPT_RT must change
task state if the task blocks during acquisition. Therefore, it saves
the current task state before blocking and the corresponding lock wakeup
- restores it.
+ restores it, as shown below::
+ task->state = TASK_INTERRUPTIBLE
+ lock()
+ block()
+ task->saved_state = task->state
+ schedule()
+ lock wakeup
+ task->state = task->saved_state

Other types of wakeups would normally unconditionally set the task state
to RUNNING, but that does not work here because the task must remain
@@ -148,7 +213,22 @@ On a PREEMPT_RT enabled kernel spinlock_
wakeup attempts to awaken a task blocked waiting for a spinlock, it
instead sets the saved state to RUNNING. Then, when the lock
acquisition completes, the lock wakeup sets the task state to the saved
- state, in this case setting it to RUNNING.
+ state, in this case setting it to RUNNING::
+ task->state = TASK_INTERRUPTIBLE
+ lock()
+ block()
+ task->saved_state = task->state
+ schedule()
+ non lock wakeup
+ task->saved_state = TASK_RUNNING
+ lock wakeup
+ task->state = task->saved_state
+ This ensures that the real wakeup cannot be lost.

@@ -228,17 +308,16 @@ while holding normal non-raw spinlocks b
bit spinlocks

-Bit spinlocks are problematic for PREEMPT_RT as they cannot be easily
-substituted by an RT-mutex based implementation for obvious reasons.
-The semantics of bit spinlocks are preserved on PREEMPT_RT kernels and the
-caveats vs. raw_spinlock_t apply.
-Some bit spinlocks are substituted by regular spinlock_t for PREEMPT_RT but
-this requires conditional (#ifdef'ed) code changes at the usage site while
-the spinlock_t substitution is simply done by the compiler and the
-conditionals are restricted to header files and core implementation of the
-locking primitives and the usage sites do not require any changes.
+PREEMPT_RT cannot substitute bit spinlocks because a single bit is too
+small to accommodate an RT-mutex. Therefore, the semantics of bit
+spinlocks are preserved on PREEMPT_RT kernels, so that the raw_spinlock_t
+caveats also apply to bit spinlocks.
+Some bit spinlocks are replaced with regular spinlock_t for PREEMPT_RT
+using conditional (#ifdef'ed) code changes at the usage site. In contrast,
+usage-site changes are not needed for the spinlock_t substitution.
+Instead, conditionals in header files and the core locking implemementation
+enable the compiler to do the substitution transparently.

Lock type nesting rules
@@ -254,46 +333,15 @@ Lock type nesting rules

- Spinning lock types can nest inside sleeping lock types.

-These rules apply in general independent of CONFIG_PREEMPT_RT.
+These constraints apply both in PREEMPT_RT and otherwise.

-As PREEMPT_RT changes the lock category of spinlock_t and rwlock_t from
-spinning to sleeping this has obviously restrictions how they can nest with
-This results in the following nest ordering:
+The fact that PREEMPT_RT changes the lock category of spinlock_t and
+rwlock_t from spinning to sleeping means that they cannot be acquired while
+holding a raw spinlock. This results in the following nesting ordering:

1) Sleeping locks
2) spinlock_t and rwlock_t
3) raw_spinlock_t and bit spinlocks

-Lockdep is aware of these constraints to ensure that they are respected.
-Owner semantics
-Most lock types in the Linux kernel have strict owner semantics, i.e. the
-context (task) which acquires a lock has to release it.
-There are two exceptions:
- - semaphores
- - rwsems
-semaphores have no owner semantics for historical reason, and as such
-trylock and release operations can be called from any context. They are
-often used for both serialization and waiting purposes. That's generally
-discouraged and should be replaced by separate serialization and wait
-mechanisms, such as mutexes and completions.
-rwsems have grown interfaces which allow non owner release for special
-purposes. This usage is problematic on PREEMPT_RT because PREEMPT_RT
-substitutes all locking primitives except semaphores with RT-mutex based
-implementations to provide priority inheritance for all lock types except
-the truly spinning ones. Priority inheritance on ownerless locks is
-obviously impossible.
-For now the rwsem non-owner release excludes code which utilizes it from
-being used on PREEMPT_RT enabled kernels. In same cases this can be
-mitigated by disabling portions of the code, in other cases the complete
-functionality has to be disabled until a workable solution has been found.
+Lockdep will complain if these constraints are violated, both in
+PREEMPT_RT and otherwise.
 \ /
  Last update: 2020-03-25 13:29    [W:0.096 / U:1.524 seconds]
©2003-2020 Jasper Spaans|hosted at Digital Ocean and TransIP|Read the blog|Advertise on this site