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SubjectRe: [PATCH RFC LKMM 1/7] tools/memory-model: Add extra ordering for locks and remove it for ordinary release/acquire
On Thu, Sep 13, 2018 at 01:07:39PM -0400, Alan Stern wrote:
> Not having received any responses to the question about usages of RCtso
> locks, I have decided to post the newly updated version of the patch
> description for commit c8c5779c854f ("tools/memory-model: Add extra
> ordering for locks and remove it for ordinary release/acquire") in
> Paul's LKMM branch. There are no changes to the patch itself.
> Hopefully this includes all the important issues that people have
> raised. (Admittedly, some parts of the discussion have seemed less
> consequential than others, and some parts I didn't understand at all.)
> Alan
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> More than one kernel developer has expressed the opinion that the LKMM
> should enforce ordering of writes by locking. In other words, given
> the following code:
> WRITE_ONCE(x, 1);
> spin_unlock(&s):
> spin_lock(&s);
> WRITE_ONCE(y, 1);
> the stores to x and y should be propagated in order to all other CPUs,
> even though those other CPUs might not access the lock s. In terms of
> the memory model, this means expanding the cumul-fence relation.
> Locks should also provide read-read (and read-write) ordering in a
> similar way. Given:
> spin_unlock(&s);
> spin_lock(&s);
> READ_ONCE(y); // or WRITE_ONCE(y, 1);
> the load of x should be executed before the load of (or store to) y.
> The LKMM already provides this ordering, but it provides it even in
> the case where the two accesses are separated by a release/acquire
> pair of fences rather than unlock/lock. This would prevent
> architectures from using weakly ordered implementations of release and
> acquire, which seems like an unnecessary restriction. The patch
> therefore removes the ordering requirement from the LKMM for that
> case.
> There are several arguments both for and against this change. Let us
> refer to these enhanced ordering properties by saying that the LKMM
> would require locks to be RCtso (a bit of a misnomer, but analogous to
> RCpc and RCsc) and it would require ordinary acquire/release only to
> be RCpc. (Note: In the following, the phrase "all supported
> architectures" does not include RISC-V, which is still somewhat in
> a state of flux.)

But "all supported architectures" does include RISC-V.

> Pros:
> The kernel already provides RCtso ordering for locks on all
> supported architectures, even though this is not stated
> explicitly anywhere. Therefore the LKMM should formalize it.
> In theory, guaranteeing RCtso ordering would reduce the need
> for additional barrier-like constructs meant to increase the
> ordering strength of locks.
> Will Deacon and Peter Zijlstra are strongly in favor of
> formalizing the RCtso requirement. Linus Torvalds and Will
> would like to go even further, requiring locks to have RCsc
> behavior (ordering preceding writes against later reads), but
> they recognize that this would incur a noticeable performance
> degradation on the POWER architecture. Linus also points out
> that people have made the mistake, in the past, of assuming
> that locking has stronger ordering properties than is
> currently guaranteed, and this change would reduce the
> likelihood of such mistakes.

Pros for "RCpc-only ordinary (and atomic) acquire/release" should go

> Cons:
> Andrea Parri and Luc Maranget feel that locks should have the
> same ordering properties as ordinary acquire/release (indeed,
> Luc points out that the names "acquire" and "release" derive
> from the usage of locks) and that having different ordering
> properties for different forms of acquires and releases would
> be confusing and unmaintainable.

s/unmaintainable/unneeded ("confusing" should already convey the
fragility of these changes).

>Will and Linus, on the other
> hand, feel that architectures should be free to implement
> ordinary acquire/release using relatively weak RCpc machine
> instructions. Linus points out that locks should be easy for
> people to use without worrying about memory consistency
> issues, since they are so pervasive in the kernel, whereas
> acquire/release is much more of an "expertss only" tool.
> Locks are constructed from lower-level primitives, typically
> RMW-acquire (for locking) and ordinary release (for unlock).
> It is illogical to require stronger ordering properties from

s/It is illogical/It is detrimental to the LKMM's applicability

> the high-level operations than from the low-level operations
> they comprise. Thus, this change would make
> while (cmpxchg_acquire(&s, 0, 1) != 0)
> cpu_relax();
> an incorrect implementation of spin_lock(&s)

... w.r.t. the LKMM (same for smp_cond_load_acquire).

>. In theory this
> weakness can be ameliorated by changing the LKMM even further,
> requiring RMW-acquire/release also to be RCtso (which it
> already is on all supported architectures).
> As far as I know, nobody has singled out any examples of code
> in the kernel that actually relies on locks being RCtso.
> (People mumble about RCU and the scheduler, but nobody has
> pointed to any actual code. If there are any real cases,
> their number is likely quite small.) If RCtso ordering is not
> needed, why require it?

Your patch and Paul said "opinions ranking".


> A handful of locking constructs (qspinlocks, qrwlocks, and
> mcs_spinlocks) are built on top of smp_cond_load_acquire()
> instead of an RMW-acquire instruction. It currently provides
> only the ordinary acquire semantics, not the stronger ordering
> this patch would require of locks. In theory this could be
> ameliorated by requiring smp_cond_load_acquire() in
> combination with ordinary release also to be RCtso (which is
> currently true in all supported architectures).
> On future weakly ordered architectures, people may be able to
> implement locks in a non-RCtso fashion with significant
> performance improvement. Meeting the RCtso requirement would
> necessarily add run-time overhead.
> Overall, the technical aspects of these arguments seem relatively
> minor, and it appears mostly to boil down to a matter of opinion.
> Since the opinions of long-time kernel developers such as Linus,
> Peter, and Will carry more weight than those of Luc and Andrea, this
> patch changes the model in accordance with the developers' wishes.
> Signed-off-by: Alan Stern <>
> ---
> v.4: Added pros and cons discussion to the Changelog.
> v.3: Rebased against the dev branch of Paul's linux-rcu tree.
> Changed unlock-rf-lock-po to po-unlock-rf-lock-po, making it more
> symmetrical and more in accordance with the use of fence.tso for
> the release on RISC-V.
> v.2: Restrict the ordering to lock operations, not general release
> and acquire fences.

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