[lttng-dev] Alternative to signals/sys_membarrier() in liburcu

Mathieu Desnoyers mathieu.desnoyers at efficios.com
Thu Mar 12 10:57:07 EDT 2015

----- Original Message -----

> From: "Michael Sullivan" <sully at msully.net>
> To: lttng-dev at lists.lttng.org
> Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 7:03:53 PM
> Subject: [lttng-dev] Alternative to signals/sys_membarrier() in liburcu

> I've been looking at the RCU library (as part of gathering examples for my
> research on weak memory models) and was thinking about ways to force other
> threads to issue barriers. Since it seems like sys_membarrier() never made
> it into the kernel, I was pondering whether there was some other way to more
> or less get its effect; as it turns out, there is, but it is a hack:
> mprotect(2).

> When a thread revokes write permissions on a page, the kernel needs to do a
> TLB shootdown to make sure that none of the other CPUs running code in that
> address space have a writable mapping for that page cached. In Linux, this
> is done by forcing code to invalidate the mappings to run on every CPU in
> the address space, and waiting for completion. The code for the "run this
> function on another CPU" mechanism forces the target CPU to issue an
> smp_mb().

> (In practice TLB shootdowns are done when permissions are added, not just
> when they are removed, but they needn't be; faults caused by using a cached
> entry with less permissions can be fixed up by the page fault handler.
> They're also needed when unmapping memory, but mprotect() seems cheaper than
> having to mmap() and munmap(). Also TLB shootdowns aren't needed if the page
> is non-present because it's never been backed or has been swapped out, so
> mlock(2) is used to keep it in place).

> I hacked this up and in my limited testing, it does seem to have way better
> write side performance than the signal version has. That said, it is also
> super hacky and is certainly depending on behaviors of mprotect() that are
> not actually specified. It would be unusual, I think, to implement
> mprotect() in a way where this didn't work? It may well be to janky to
> actually be useful, though.

> I can send the code if you're interested.

That's certainly an interesting way to mimick sys_membarrier! 

Even though it depends on internal behavior not currently specified by mprotect, 
I'd very much like to see the prototype you have, 



> -Michael Sullivan

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Mathieu Desnoyers 
EfficiOS Inc. 
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