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SubjectRe: [Intel-gfx] [PATCH 03/18] dma-fence: basic lockdep annotations
Jumping in after a couple of weeks where I've paged most everything
out of my brain ...

On Fri, 19 Jun 2020 at 10:43, Daniel Vetter <> wrote:
> On Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 10:13:35AM +0100, Chris Wilson wrote:
> > > The proposed patches might very well encode the wrong contract, that's
> > > all up for discussion. But fundamentally questioning that we need one
> > > is missing what upstream is all about.
> >
> > Then I have not clearly communicated, as my opinion is not that
> > validation is worthless, but that the implementation is enshrining a
> > global property on a low level primitive that prevents it from being
> > used elsewhere. And I want to replace completion [chains] with fences, and
> > bio with fences, and closures with fences, and what other equivalencies
> > there are in the kernel. The fence is as central a locking construct as
> > struct completion and deserves to be a foundational primitive provided
> > by kernel/ used throughout all drivers for discrete problem domains.
> >
> > This is narrowing dma_fence whereby adding
> > struct lockdep_map *dma_fence::wait_map
> > and annotating linkage, allows you to continue to specify that all
> > dma_fence used for a particular purpose must follow common rules,
> > without restricting the primitive for uses outside of this scope.
> Somewhere else in this thread I had discussions with Jason Gunthorpe about
> this topic. It might maybe change somewhat depending upon exact rules, but
> his take is very much "I don't want dma_fence in rdma". Or pretty close to
> that at least.
> Similar discussions with habanalabs, they're using dma_fence internally
> without any of the uapi. Discussion there has also now concluded that it's
> best if they remove them, and simply switch over to a wait_queue or
> completion like every other driver does.
> The next round of the patches already have a paragraph to at least
> somewhat limit how non-gpu drivers use dma_fence. And I guess actual
> consensus might be pointing even more strongly at dma_fence being solely
> something for gpus and closely related subsystem (maybe media) for syncing
> dma-buf access.
> So dma_fence as general replacement for completion chains I think just
> wont happen.
> What might make sense is if e.g. the lockdep annotations could be reused,
> at least in design, for wait_queue or completion or anything else
> really. I do think that has a fair chance compared to the automagic
> cross-release annotations approach, which relied way too heavily on
> guessing where barriers are. My experience from just a bit of playing
> around with these patches here and discussing them with other driver
> maintainers is that accurately deciding where critical sections start and
> end is a job for humans only. And if you get it wrong, you will have a
> false positive.
> And you're indeed correct that if we'd do annotations for completions and
> wait queues, then that would need to have a class per semantically
> equivalent user, like we have lockdep classes for mutexes, not just one
> overall.
> But dma_fence otoh is something very specific, which comes with very
> specific rules attached - it's not a generic wait_queue at all. Originally
> it did start out as one even, but it is a very specialized wait_queue.
> So there's imo two cases:
> - Your completion is entirely orthogonal of dma_fences, and can never ever
> block a dma_fence. Don't use dma_fence for this, and no problem. It's
> just another wait_queue somewhere.
> - Your completion can eventually, maybe through lots of convolutions and
> depdencies, block a dma_fence. In that case full dma_fence rules apply,
> and the only thing you can do with a custom annotation is make the rules
> even stricter. E.g. if a sub-timeline in the scheduler isn't allowed to
> take certain scheduler locks. But the userspace visible/published fence
> do take them, maybe as part of command submission or retirement.
> Entirely hypotethical, no idea any driver actually needs this.

I don't claim to understand the implementation of i915's scheduler and
GEM handling, and it seems like there's some public context missing
here. But to me, the above is a good statement of what I (and a lot of
other userspace) have been relying on - that dma-fence is a very
tightly scoped thing which is very predictable but in extremis.

It would be great to have something like this enshrined in dma-fence
documentation, visible to both kernel and external users. The
properties we've so far been assuming for the graphics pipeline -
covering production & execution of vertex/fragment workloads on the
GPU, framebuffer display, and to the extent this is necessary
involving compute - are something like this:

A single dma-fence with no dependencies represents (the tail of) a
unit of work, which has been all but committed to the hardware. Once
committed to the hardware, this work will complete (successfully or in
error) in bounded time. The unit of work referred to by a dma-fence
may carry dependencies on other dma-fences, which must of course be
subject to the same restrictions as above. No action from any
userspace component is required to ensure that the completion occurs.

The cases I know of which legitimately blow holes in this are:
- the work is scheduled but GPU execution resource contention
prevents it from completion, e.g. something on a higher-priority
context repeatedly gets scheduled in front of it - this is OK because
by definition it's what should happen
- the work is scheduled but CPU execution resource contention
prevents it from completion, e.g. the DRM scheduler does not get to
trigger the hardware to execute the work - this is OK because at this
point we have a big system-wide problem
- the work is scheduled but non-execution resource contention
prevents it from making progress, e.g. VRAM contention and/or a paging
storm - this is OK because again we have a larger problem here and we
can't reasonably expect the driver to solve this
- the work is executed but execution does not complete due to the
nature of the work, e.g. a chain of work contains a hostile compute
shader which does not complete in any reasonable time - this is OK
because we require TDR; even without a smart compositor detecting
based on fence waits that the work is unsuitable and should not hold
up other work, the driver will probably ban the context and lock it
out anyway

The first three are general system resource-overload cases, no
different from the CPU-side equivalent where it's up to the admin to
impose ulimits to prevent forkbombs or runaway memory usage, or up to
the user to run fewer Electron apps. The last one is more difficult,
because we can't solve the halting problem to know ahead of time that
the user has submitted an infinite workload, so we have to live with
that as a real hazard and mitigate it where we can (by returning -EIO
and killing the app from inside Mesa).

If repurposing dma-fence for non-graphics uses (like general-purpose
compute or driver-internal tracking for things other than GPU
workloads) makes it more difficult to guarantee the above properties,
then I don't want to do it. Maybe the answer is that dma-fence gets
split into its core infrastructure which can be used for completion
chains, with actual dma-fence being layered above generic completion
APIs: other-completion-API can consume fences, but fences _cannot_
consume non-fence things.

This does force a split between graphics (GL/Vulkan/display) workloads
and compute (CL/oneAPI/HSA/CUDA), which I get is really difficult to
resolve in the driver. But the two are hard split anyway: graphics
requires upfront and explicit buffer management, in return dangling
the carrot that you can pipeline your workloads and expect completion
in reasonable time. General-purpose compute lets you go far more YOLO
on resource access, including full userptr SVM, but the flipside is
that your execution time might be measured in weeks; as a result you
don't get to do execution pipelining because even if you could, it's
not a big enough win relative to your execution time to be worth the
extra driver and system complexity. I don't think there's a reasonable
lowest common denominator between the two that we can try to reuse a
generic model for both, because you make too many compromises to try
to fit conflicting interests.

In the pre-syncobj days, we did look at what we called 'empty fences'
or 'future fences' with the ChromeOS team: a synchronisation object
which wasn't backed by a promise of completion as dma-fence is, but
instead by the meta-promise (from userspace) of a promise of
completion. Ultimately it never became a real thing for the same
reason that swsync isn't either; it needed so much special-case
handling and so many disclaimers and opt-ins everywhere that by the
end, we weren't sure why we were trying to shoehorn it into dma-fence
apart from dma-fence already existing - but by removing all its
guarantees, we also removed all its usefulness as a primitive.


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