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Subject[PATCH v2 01/19] Documentation: document array_ptr
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Date
From: Mark Rutland <mark.rutland@arm.com>

Document the rationale and usage of the new array_ptr() helper.

Signed-off-by: Mark Rutland <mark.rutland@arm.com>
Signed-off-by: Will Deacon <will.deacon@arm.com>
Cc: Dan Williams <dan.j.williams@intel.com>
Cc: Jonathan Corbet <corbet@lwn.net>
Cc: Peter Zijlstra <peterz@infradead.org>
Signed-off-by: Dan Williams <dan.j.williams@intel.com>
---
Documentation/speculation.txt | 142 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
1 file changed, 142 insertions(+)
create mode 100644 Documentation/speculation.txt

diff --git a/Documentation/speculation.txt b/Documentation/speculation.txt
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..a4d465fd42cd
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/speculation.txt
@@ -0,0 +1,142 @@
+This document explains potential effects of speculation, and how undesirable
+effects can be mitigated portably using common APIs.
+
+===========
+Speculation
+===========
+
+To improve performance and minimize average latencies, many contemporary CPUs
+employ speculative execution techniques such as branch prediction, performing
+work which may be discarded at a later stage.
+
+Typically speculative execution cannot be observed from architectural state,
+such as the contents of registers. However, in some cases it is possible to
+observe its impact on microarchitectural state, such as the presence or
+absence of data in caches. Such state may form side-channels which can be
+observed to extract secret information.
+
+For example, in the presence of branch prediction, it is possible for bounds
+checks to be ignored by code which is speculatively executed. Consider the
+following code:
+
+ int load_array(int *array, unsigned int idx) {
+ if (idx >= MAX_ARRAY_ELEMS)
+ return 0;
+ else
+ return array[idx];
+ }
+
+Which, on arm64, may be compiled to an assembly sequence such as:
+
+ CMP <idx>, #MAX_ARRAY_ELEMS
+ B.LT less
+ MOV <returnval>, #0
+ RET
+ less:
+ LDR <returnval>, [<array>, <idx>]
+ RET
+
+It is possible that a CPU mis-predicts the conditional branch, and
+speculatively loads array[idx], even if idx >= MAX_ARRAY_ELEMS. This value
+will subsequently be discarded, but the speculated load may affect
+microarchitectural state which can be subsequently measured.
+
+More complex sequences involving multiple dependent memory accesses may result
+in sensitive information being leaked. Consider the following code, building
+on the prior example:
+
+ int load_dependent_arrays(int *arr1, int *arr2, int idx)
+ {
+ int val1, val2,
+
+ val1 = load_array(arr1, idx);
+ val2 = load_array(arr2, val1);
+
+ return val2;
+ }
+
+Under speculation, the first call to load_array() may return the value of an
+out-of-bounds address, while the second call will influence microarchitectural
+state dependent on this value. This may provide an arbitrary read primitive.
+
+====================================
+Mitigating speculation side-channels
+====================================
+
+The kernel provides a generic API to ensure that bounds checks are respected
+even under speculation. Architectures which are affected by speculation-based
+side-channels are expected to implement these primitives.
+
+The array_ptr() helper in <asm/barrier.h> can be used to prevent
+information from being leaked via side-channels.
+
+A call to array_ptr(arr, idx, sz) returns a sanitized pointer to
+arr[idx] only if idx falls in the [0, sz) interval. When idx < 0 or idx > sz,
+NULL is returned. Additionally, array_ptr() an out-of-bounds poitner is
+not propagated to code which is speculatively executed.
+
+This can be used to protect the earlier load_array() example:
+
+ int load_array(int *array, unsigned int idx)
+ {
+ int *elem;
+
+ elem = array_ptr(array, idx, MAX_ARRAY_ELEMS);
+ if (elem)
+ return *elem;
+ else
+ return 0;
+ }
+
+This can also be used in situations where multiple fields on a structure are
+accessed:
+
+ struct foo array[SIZE];
+ int a, b;
+
+ void do_thing(int idx)
+ {
+ struct foo *elem;
+
+ elem = array_ptr(array, idx, SIZE);
+ if (elem) {
+ a = elem->field_a;
+ b = elem->field_b;
+ }
+ }
+
+It is imperative that the returned pointer is used. Pointers which are
+generated separately are subject to a number of potential CPU and compiler
+optimizations, and may still be used speculatively. For example, this means
+that the following sequence is unsafe:
+
+ struct foo array[SIZE];
+ int a, b;
+
+ void do_thing(int idx)
+ {
+ if (array_ptr(array, idx, SIZE) != NULL) {
+ // unsafe as wrong pointer is used
+ a = array[idx].field_a;
+ b = array[idx].field_b;
+ }
+ }
+
+Similarly, it is unsafe to compare the returned pointer with other pointers,
+as this may permit the compiler to substitute one pointer with another,
+permitting speculation. For example, the following sequence is unsafe:
+
+ struct foo array[SIZE];
+ int a, b;
+
+ void do_thing(int idx)
+ {
+ struct foo *elem = array_ptr(array, idx, size);
+
+ // unsafe due to pointer substitution
+ if (elem == &array[idx]) {
+ a = elem->field_a;
+ b = elem->field_b;
+ }
+ }
+
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