path: root/Documentation/RCU/UP.txt
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authorFathi Boudra <fathi.boudra@linaro.org>2013-04-28 09:33:08 +0300
committerFathi Boudra <fathi.boudra@linaro.org>2013-04-28 09:33:08 +0300
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treeb9996006addfd7ae70a39672b76843b49aebc189 /Documentation/RCU/UP.txt
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+RCU on Uniprocessor Systems
+A common misconception is that, on UP systems, the call_rcu() primitive
+may immediately invoke its function. The basis of this misconception
+is that since there is only one CPU, it should not be necessary to
+wait for anything else to get done, since there are no other CPUs for
+anything else to be happening on. Although this approach will -sort- -of-
+work a surprising amount of the time, it is a very bad idea in general.
+This document presents three examples that demonstrate exactly how bad
+an idea this is.
+Example 1: softirq Suicide
+Suppose that an RCU-based algorithm scans a linked list containing
+elements A, B, and C in process context, and can delete elements from
+this same list in softirq context. Suppose that the process-context scan
+is referencing element B when it is interrupted by softirq processing,
+which deletes element B, and then invokes call_rcu() to free element B
+after a grace period.
+Now, if call_rcu() were to directly invoke its arguments, then upon return
+from softirq, the list scan would find itself referencing a newly freed
+element B. This situation can greatly decrease the life expectancy of
+your kernel.
+This same problem can occur if call_rcu() is invoked from a hardware
+interrupt handler.
+Example 2: Function-Call Fatality
+Of course, one could avert the suicide described in the preceding example
+by having call_rcu() directly invoke its arguments only if it was called
+from process context. However, this can fail in a similar manner.
+Suppose that an RCU-based algorithm again scans a linked list containing
+elements A, B, and C in process contexts, but that it invokes a function
+on each element as it is scanned. Suppose further that this function
+deletes element B from the list, then passes it to call_rcu() for deferred
+freeing. This may be a bit unconventional, but it is perfectly legal
+RCU usage, since call_rcu() must wait for a grace period to elapse.
+Therefore, in this case, allowing call_rcu() to immediately invoke
+its arguments would cause it to fail to make the fundamental guarantee
+underlying RCU, namely that call_rcu() defers invoking its arguments until
+all RCU read-side critical sections currently executing have completed.
+Quick Quiz #1: why is it -not- legal to invoke synchronize_rcu() in
+ this case?
+Example 3: Death by Deadlock
+Suppose that call_rcu() is invoked while holding a lock, and that the
+callback function must acquire this same lock. In this case, if
+call_rcu() were to directly invoke the callback, the result would
+be self-deadlock.
+In some cases, it would possible to restructure to code so that
+the call_rcu() is delayed until after the lock is released. However,
+there are cases where this can be quite ugly:
+1. If a number of items need to be passed to call_rcu() within
+ the same critical section, then the code would need to create
+ a list of them, then traverse the list once the lock was
+ released.
+2. In some cases, the lock will be held across some kernel API,
+ so that delaying the call_rcu() until the lock is released
+ requires that the data item be passed up via a common API.
+ It is far better to guarantee that callbacks are invoked
+ with no locks held than to have to modify such APIs to allow
+ arbitrary data items to be passed back up through them.
+If call_rcu() directly invokes the callback, painful locking restrictions
+or API changes would be required.
+Quick Quiz #2: What locking restriction must RCU callbacks respect?
+Permitting call_rcu() to immediately invoke its arguments breaks RCU,
+even on a UP system. So do not do it! Even on a UP system, the RCU
+infrastructure -must- respect grace periods, and -must- invoke callbacks
+from a known environment in which no locks are held.
+It -is- safe for synchronize_sched() and synchronize_rcu_bh() to return
+immediately on an UP system. It is also safe for synchronize_rcu()
+to return immediately on UP systems, except when running preemptable
+Quick Quiz #3: Why can't synchronize_rcu() return immediately on
+ UP systems running preemptable RCU?
+Answer to Quick Quiz #1:
+ Why is it -not- legal to invoke synchronize_rcu() in this case?
+ Because the calling function is scanning an RCU-protected linked
+ list, and is therefore within an RCU read-side critical section.
+ Therefore, the called function has been invoked within an RCU
+ read-side critical section, and is not permitted to block.
+Answer to Quick Quiz #2:
+ What locking restriction must RCU callbacks respect?
+ Any lock that is acquired within an RCU callback must be
+ acquired elsewhere using an _irq variant of the spinlock
+ primitive. For example, if "mylock" is acquired by an
+ RCU callback, then a process-context acquisition of this
+ lock must use something like spin_lock_irqsave() to
+ acquire the lock.
+ If the process-context code were to simply use spin_lock(),
+ then, since RCU callbacks can be invoked from softirq context,
+ the callback might be called from a softirq that interrupted
+ the process-context critical section. This would result in
+ self-deadlock.
+ This restriction might seem gratuitous, since very few RCU
+ callbacks acquire locks directly. However, a great many RCU
+ callbacks do acquire locks -indirectly-, for example, via
+ the kfree() primitive.
+Answer to Quick Quiz #3:
+ Why can't synchronize_rcu() return immediately on UP systems
+ running preemptable RCU?
+ Because some other task might have been preempted in the middle
+ of an RCU read-side critical section. If synchronize_rcu()
+ simply immediately returned, it would prematurely signal the
+ end of the grace period, which would come as a nasty shock to
+ that other thread when it started running again.