Floating point in the kernel

arnd at arndb.de arnd at arndb.de
Fri Dec 11 07:32:36 EST 2009

On Thursday 10 December 2009 18:13:11 Sean MacLennan wrote:
> One of our drivers has code that was originally running on a DSP. The
> code makes heavy use of floating point. We have isolated all the
> floating point to one kthread in the driver. Using enable_kernel_fp()
> this has worked well.
> But under a specific heavy RTP load, we started getting kernel panics.
> To make a long story short, the scheduler disables FP when you are
> context switched out. When you come back and access a FP instruction,
> you trap and call load_up_fpu() and everything is fine..... unless you
> are in the kernel. If you are in the kernel, like our kthread is, you
> get a "kernel FP unavailable exception".

I think the rule here is that you have to disable preemption and must not
call any potentially blocking functions like kmalloc when enable_kernel_fp
is set. The kernel has good control over whether a thread get context switched
or not, so it should be able to prevent these problems.

	Arnd <><

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