Re: [patch 00/13] Syslets, "Threadlets", generic AIO support, v3

From: Michael K. Edwards
Date: Thu Feb 22 2007 - 21:48:08 EST

On 2/22/07, Alan <alan@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> to do anything but chase pointers through cache. Done right, it
> hardly even branches (although the branch misprediction penalty is a
> lot less of a worry on current x86_64 than it was in the
> mega-superscalar-out-of-order-speculative-execution days). It's damn

Actually it costs a lot more on at least one vendors processor because
you stall very long pipelines.

You're right; I overreached there. I haven't measured branch
misprediction penalties in dog's years (I focus more on system latency
issues these days), so I'm just going on rumor. If your CPU vendor is
still playing the tune-for-SpecINT-at-the-expense-of-real-code game
(*cough* Itanic *cough*), get another CPU vendor -- while you still

> threadlets promise that they will not touch anything thread-local, and
> that when the FPU is handed to them in a specific, known state, they
> leave it in that same state. (Some of the flags can be

We don't use the FPU in the kernel except in very weird cases where it
makes an enormous performance difference. The threadlets also have the
same page tables so they have the same %cr3 so its very cheap to switch,
basically a predicted jump and some register loads

Do you not understand that real user code touches FPU state at
unpredictable (to the kernel) junctures? Maybe not in a database or a
web server, but in the GUIs and web-based monitoring applications that
are 99% of the potential customers for kernel AIO? I have no idea
what a %cr3 is, but if you don't fence off thread-local stuff from the
threadlets you are just begging for end-user Heisenbugs and a place in
the dustheap of history next to Symbolics LISP.

> Do me a favor. Do some floating point math and a memcpy() in between
> syscalls in the threadlet. Actually fiddle with errno and the FPU

We don't have an errno in the kernel because its a stupid idea. Errno is
a user space hack for compatibility with 1970's bad design. So its not
relevant either.

Dude, it's thread-local, and the glibc wrapper around most synchronous
syscalls touches it. If you don't instantiate a new TLS context (or
whatever the right lingo for that is) for every threadlet, you are
TOAST -- if you let the user call stuff out of <stdlib.h> (let alone
<stdio.h>) from within the threadlet.

- Michael
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