[RFC][PATCH 0/5] arch: atomic rework

Linus Torvalds torvalds@linux-foundation.org
Wed Feb 19 19:49:00 GMT 2014

On Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 6:40 AM, Torvald Riegel <triegel@redhat.com> wrote:
> If all those other threads written in whichever way use the same memory
> model and ABI for synchronization (e.g., choice of HW barriers for a
> certain memory_order), it doesn't matter whether it's a hardware thread,
> microcode, whatever.  In this case, C11 atomics should be fine.
> (We have this in userspace already, because correct compilers will have
> to assume that the code generated by them has to properly synchronize
> with other code generated by different compilers.)
> If the other threads use a different model, access memory entirely
> differently, etc, then we might be back to "volatile" because we don't
> know anything, and the very strict rules about execution steps of the
> abstract machine (ie, no as-if rule) are probably the safest thing to
> do.

Oh, I don't even care about architectures that don't have real hardware atomics.

So if there's a software protocol for atomics, all bets are off. The
compiler almost certainly has to do atomics with function calls
anyway, and we'll just plug in out own. And frankly, nobody will ever
care, because those architectures aren't relevant, and never will be.

Sure, there are some ancient Sparc platforms that only support a
single-byte "ldstub" and there are some embedded chips that don't
really do SMP, but have some pseudo-smp with special separate locking.
Really, nobody cares. The C standard has that crazy lock-free atomic
tests, and talks about address-free, but generally we require both
lock-free and address-free in the kernel, because otherwise it's just
too painful to do interrupt-safe locking, or do atomics in user-space
(for futexes).

So if your worry is just about software protocols for CPU's that
aren't actually designed for modern SMP, that's pretty much a complete


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