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Re: [patch] mm: fix lockless pagecache reordering bug (was Re: BUG: soft

To: Linus Torvalds <torvalds@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: [patch] mm: fix lockless pagecache reordering bug (was Re: BUG: soft lockup - is this XFS problem?)
From: "Paul E. McKenney" <paulmck@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 2009 09:17:16 -0800
Cc: Nick Piggin <npiggin@xxxxxxx>, Peter Klotz <peter.klotz@xxxxxx>, stable@xxxxxxxxxx, Linux Memory Management List <linux-mm@xxxxxxxxx>, Christoph Hellwig <hch@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Roman Kononov <kernel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, linux-kernel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, xfs@xxxxxxxxxxx, Andrew Morton <akpm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
In-reply-to: <alpine.LFD.2.00.0901051131090.3057@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
References: <20090103214443.GA6612@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> <20090105014821.GA367@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> <20090105041959.GC367@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> <20090105064838.GA5209@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> <49623384.2070801@xxxxxx> <20090105164135.GC32675@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> <alpine.LFD.2.00.0901050859430.3057@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> <20090105180008.GE32675@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> <alpine.LFD.2.00.0901051027011.3057@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> <alpine.LFD.2.00.0901051131090.3057@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Reply-to: paulmck@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.15+20070412 (2007-04-11)
On Mon, Jan 05, 2009 at 11:39:29AM -0800, Linus Torvalds wrote:
> On Mon, 5 Jan 2009, Linus Torvalds wrote:
> > Either the value can change, or it can not. It's that simple.
> > 
> > If it cannot change, then we can load it just once, or we can load it 
> > multiple times, and it won't matter. Barriers won't do anything but screw 
> > up the code.
> > 
> > If it can change from under us, you need to use rcu_dereference(), or 
> > open-code it with an ACCESS_ONCE() or put in barriers. But your placement 
> > of a barrier was NONSENSICAL. Your barrier didn't protect anything else - 
> > like the test for the RADIX_TREE_INDIRECT_PTR bit.
> > 
> > And that was the fundamental problem.
> 
> Btw, this is the real issue with anything that does "locking vs 
> optimistic" accesses.
> 
> If you use locking, then by definition (if you did things right), the 
> values you are working with do not change. As a result, it doesn't matter 
> if the compiler re-orders accesses, splits them up, or coalesces them. 
> It's why normal code should never need barriers, because it doesn't matter 
> whether some access gets optimized away or gets done multiple times.
> 
> But whenever you use an optimistic algorithm, and the data may change 
> under you, you need to use barriers or other things to limit the things 
> the CPU and/or compiler does.
> 
> And yes, "rcu_dereference()" is one such thing - it's not a barrier in the 
> sense that it doesn't necessarily affect ordering of accesses to other 
> variables around it (although the read_barrier_depends() obviously _is_ a 
> very special kind of ordering wrt the pointer itself on alpha). But it 
> does make sure that the compiler at least does not coalesce - or split - 
> that _one_ particular access.
> 
> It's true that it has "rcu" in its name, and it's also true that that may 
> be a bit misleading in that it's very much useful not just for rcu, but 
> for _any_ algorithm that depends on rcu-like behavior - ie optimistic 
> accesses to data that may change underneath it. RCU is just the most 
> commonly used (and perhaps best codified) variant of that kind of code.

The codification is quite important -- otherwise RCU would be a knife
without a handle.  And some would no doubt argue that RCU is -still-
a knife without a handle, but so it goes.  It does still need more work.
And I hope that additional codification of other optimistic concurrency
algorithms will make them more usable as well.

                                                        Thanx, Paul

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