[PATCH] word-at-a-time: use the same return type for has_zero regardless of endianness

Will Deacon will at kernel.org
Fri Aug 4 23:04:43 AEST 2023

On Wed, Aug 02, 2023 at 08:17:32PM +0200, Arnd Bergmann wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 2, 2023, at 19:37, Linus Torvalds wrote:
> > On Wed, 2 Aug 2023 at 09:16, Nathan Chancellor <nathan at kernel.org> wrote:
> >>
> >> We see this warning with ARCH=arm64 defconfig + CONFIG_CPU_BIG_ENDIAN=y.
> >
> > Oh Christ. I didn't even realize that arm64 allowed a BE config.
> >
> > The config option goes back to 2013 - are there actually BE user space
> > implementations around?
> At least NXP's Layerscape and Huawei's SoCs ended up in big-endian
> appliances, running legacy software ported from mips or powerpc.
> I agree this was a mistake, but that wasn't nearly as obvious ten
> years ago when there were still new BE-only sparc, mips and powerpc
> put on the market -- that really only ended in 2017.
> > People, why do we do that? That's positively crazy. BE is dead and
> > should be relegated to legacy platforms. There are no advantages to
> > being different just for the sake of being different - any "security
> > by obscurity" argument would be far outweighed by the inconvenience to
> > actual users.
> >
> > Yes, yes, I know the aarch64 architecture technically allows BE
> > implementations - and apparently you can even do it by exception
> > level, which I had to look up. But do any actually exist?
> >
> > Does the kernel even work right in BE mode? It's really easy to miss
> > some endianness check when all the actual hardware and use is LE, and
> > when (for example) instruction encoding and IO is then always LE
> > anyway.
> This was always only done for compatibility with non-portable
> software when companies with large custom network stacks argued
> that it was cheaper to build the entire open source software to
> big-endian than port their own product to little-endian. ;-)
> We (Linaro) used to test all toolchain and kernel releases in
> big-endian mode as member companies had customers that asked
> for it, but that stopped a while ago as those legacy software
> stacks either got more portable or got replaced over time.
> Many Arm systems won't boot BE kernels any more because UEFI
> firmware only supports LE, or because of driver bugs.
> Virtual machines are still likely to work fine though.
> I'm fairly sure that all Arm Cortex and Neoverse cores still\
> support BE mode in all exception levels, OTOH at least Apple's
> custom CPUs do not implement it at all.

Yes, that's right. The CPUs we have *do* tend to support BE, but
practically there isn't any software to run on them. I asked about
removing it a few years ago:


but Hanjun said that Huawei are using it, so it stayed.


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