[patch] mm: fix lockless pagecache reordering bug (was Re: BUG: soft lockup - is this XFS problem?)
Paul E. McKenney
paulmck at linux.vnet.ibm.com
Tue Jan 6 11:17:16 CST 2009
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.
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