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SubjectRe: [RFC 0/2] RISC-V: A proposal to add vendor-specific code
On Fri, Nov 02, 2018 at 01:48:57AM +0800, Karsten Merker wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 31, 2018 at 10:27:05AM -0700, Palmer Dabbelt wrote:
> > On Wed, 31 Oct 2018 04:16:10 PDT (-0700), wrote:
> > > On Wed, Oct 31, 2018 at 4:06 PM Vincent Chen <> wrote:
> > > >
> > > > RISC-V permits each vendor to develop respective extension ISA based
> > > > on RISC-V standard ISA. This means that these vendor-specific features
> > > > may be compatible to their compiler and CPU. Therefore, each vendor may
> > > > be considered a sub-architecture of RISC-V. Currently, vendors do not
> > > > have the appropriate examples to add these specific features to the
> > > > kernel. In this RFC set, we propose an infrastructure that vendor can
> > > > easily hook their specific features into kernel. The first commit is
> > > > the main body of this infrastructure. In the second commit, we provide
> > > > a solution that allows dma_map_ops() to work without cache coherent
> > > > agent support. Cache coherent agent is unsupported for low-end CPUs in
> > > > the AndeStar RISC-V series. In order for Linux to run on these CPUs, we
> > > > need this solution to overcome the limitation of cache coherent agent
> > > > support. Hence, it also can be used as an example for the first commit.
> > > >
> > > > I am glad to discuss any ideas, so if you have any idea, please give
> > > > me some feedback.
> > > >
> > > I agree that we need a place for vendor-specific ISA extensions and
> > > having vendor-specific directories is also good.
> > >
> > > What I don't support is the approach of having compile time selection
> > > of vendor-specific ISA extension.
> > >
> > > We should have runtime probing for compatible vendor-specific ISA
> > > extension. Also, it should be possible to link multiple vendor-specific
> > > SA extensions to same kernel image. This way we can have a single
> > > kernel image (along with various vendor-specific ISA extensions) which
> > > works on variety of targets/hosts.
> > >
> > > As an example or runtime probing you can look at how IRQCHIP or
> > > CLOCKSOURCE drivers are probed. The vendor-specific ISA extension
> > > hooks should called in similar fashion.
> >
> > Yes, I agree. My biggest concern here is that we ensure that
> > one kernel can boot on implementations from all vendors. I
> > haven't had a chance to look at the patches yet, but it should
> > be possible to:
> >
> > * Build a kernel that has vendor-specific code from multiple vendors.
> > * Detect the implementation an run time and select the correct extra
> > code.
> From a distro point of view we definitely want to have one kernel
> image that is bootable everywhere. Debian won't support any
> platform that requires a per-platform or per-vendor kernel, and I
> assume that the same will be true for Fedora and Suse.
> One thing that I have stumbled upon while looking at the patches
> is that they seem to assume that X-type ISA extensions are
> strictly per vendor. Although that is probably true in the
> majority of cases, it doesn't necessarily have to be - I could
> e.g. imagine that the DSP extensions from the PULP cores might
> be used by multiple vendors. If such an extension would have
> state that needs to be saved on context switch, it would need
> corresponding kernel support. Using "PULP" (or any other
> open-source project) as the vendor in such a case leads to
> another potential issue: the patches base everything on a JEDEC
> vendor ID that is compared to the contents of the mvendorid CSR,
> but such a JEDEC vendor ID usually doesn't exist for open-source
> implementations; the majority of those have mvendorid set to
> zero.
Many thanks for kinds of comments. I quickly synthesize the comments and
list them as below.
1. The kernel image shall include all vendor-specific code.
2. This kernel image can only enable particular vendor-specific features
based on the CPU vendor in the running platform.
- The runtime probing mechanism can refer to arm32/arm64, powerpc,
IRQCHIP driver or CLOCKSOURCE driver
- For some cases, such as open-source projects, using CSR $mvendorid
to identify the compatibility is not appropriate.
I think the above requirements are reasonable, but I have questions about
the first requirement in practice. As far as I know, vendors are allowed
to add specific instructions and CSRs which are incompatible with other
vendors to their own ISA extensions. If I understand the first requirement
correctly, it implies that we need a "super" RISC-V toolchain. This "super"
RISC-V toolchain should recognize all kinds of vendor-specific instructions
and CSRs, so that it can compile vendor sources into objects successfully;
then it should recognize all kinds of vendor-specific relocations, so that
it can link the objects successfully. Each of them is not trivial at the
time of this proposal and in foreseeable future.

If it will take a long time to complete this "super" toolchain, I suppose
the infrastructure in this RFC might be a temporary solution before it is
ready. This scheme does not suffer the compilation problems caused by the
lack of the super toolchain because the selection of vendor-specific ISA
extension is determined at compile time. In addition, the mechanism for
checking compatibility at runtime ensures that the kernel with
vendor-specific feature runs on CPUs of other vendors just like pure
RISC-V kernel. In other words, this scheme, to some extent, satisfies the
requirements that one kernel image is bootable everywhere.


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