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Re: [i386, patch, RFC] HLE support in GCC

On Thu, 2012-04-12 at 13:36 +0200, Andi Kleen wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 12, 2012 at 12:38:44AM +0200, Torvald Riegel wrote:
> > On Wed, 2012-04-11 at 15:06 +0200, Andi Kleen wrote:
> > > > Tests passing, bootstrap in progress.
> > > > 
> > > > Comments?
> > > 
> > > Do you really imply ACQUIRE/RELEASE with HLE_ACQUIRE/RELEASE now? I don't
> > > see that in the code. I think that's really required, otherwise the optimizer
> > > will do the wrong thing and move memory references outside the region.
> > 
> > Perhaps HLE_ACQUIRE / HLE_RELEASE should be something like HLE_START /
> > HLE_END instead?  Not particularly great names, but at least it avoids
> > overloading ACQUIRE/RELEASE and thus should make it clearer that you
> > still need to specify a memory order.
> It still seems wrong to me. HLE is an x86 construct, so weaker
> memory orders on the compiler level than what the instruction implements
> does not really make sense to me. And the instruction just has LOCK
> semantics.

What if another vendor shows up, perhaps on another architecture?

> Currently it's highly error prone -- on the Russel hard to misuse scale not higher 
> than 1 as is [1]

It would be a three, if the patch would contain documentation of the
additional bit.  I guess that's a hint :)

It could even be a four, depending on the point of view.  Not from the
POV of the Intel HLE feature.  But from a conceptual POV, HLE is pretty
independent of memory orders.

> At the minimum it would need a warning with RELAXED as suggested
> by Jakub earlier.

That could be helpful.

However, I'm not 100% sure that HLE is only useful paired with
acquire/release memory orders in general (ie, possibly on other archs).
For example, if you only care about having acq_rel atomics being
protected by your possibly-elided lock, then they won't get moved out of
the critical section (unless I read the C++11 memory model too
Therefore, given that I don't see the atomic builtins being used by lots
of programmers, I'd rather make them more general.

> > I agree with Jakub that users really should specify memory order bits,
> > if they want ordering.  Andi, I also see your point regarding catching
> > bugs, but this is really expert stuff, and my hope is that we can make
> > HLE really transparent or at least provide better abstractions around it
> At least this form of HLE cannot be transparent, it has to be annotated by the
> programmer.

Let me elaborate.  The point I was trying to make is that it should be
transparent for the non-concurrency-expert programmer.  Or at least make
this specific detail we're discussing here transparent (ie, whether
HLE_ACQUIRE should imply a certain memory order).  That is, if
non-experts only see a default lock implementation, or see a
lock-implementation with a use-HLE-here-if-possible flag, then they
don't have to deal with memory orders anyway.

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