RFC on writel and writel_relaxed

Benjamin Herrenschmidt benh at kernel.crashing.org
Thu Mar 22 15:24:49 AEDT 2018

On Wed, 2018-03-21 at 08:53 -0500, Sinan Kaya wrote:
> writel_relaxed() needs to have ordering guarantees with respect to the order
> device observes writes. 


> x86 has compiler barrier inside the relaxed() API so that code does not
> get reordered. ARM64 architecturally guarantees device writes to be observed
> in order.
> I was hoping that PPC could follow x86 and inject compiler barrier into the
> relaxed functions. 
> BTW, I have no idea what compiler barrier does on PPC and if
> wrltel() == compiler barrier() + wrltel_relaxed()
> can be said.

No, it's not sufficient.

Replacing wmb() + writel() with wmb() + writel_relaxed() will work on
PPC, it will just not give you a benefit today.

The main problem is that the semantics of writel/writel_relaxed (and
read versions) aren't very well defined in Linux esp. when it comes
to different memory types (NC, WC, ...).

I've been wanting to implement the relaxed accessors for a while but
was battling with this to try to also better support WC, and due to
other commitments, this somewhat fell down the cracks.

Two options I can think of:

 - Just make the _relaxed variants use an eieio instead of a sync, this
will effectively lift the ordering guarantee vs. cachable storage (and
thus unlock) and might give a (small) performance improvement. However,
we still have the problem that on WC mappings, neither writel nor
writel_relaxed will effectively allow combining to happen (only raw
accesses will because on powerpc *all* barriers will break combining).

 - Make writel_relaxed() be a simple store without barriers, and
readl_relaxed() be "eieio, read, eieio", thus allowing write combining
to happen between successive writel_relaxed on WC space (no change on
normal NC space) while maintaining the ordering between relaxed reads
and writes. The flip side is a (slight) increased overhead of


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