[PATCH] USB: ehci: use packed,aligned(4) instead of removing the packed attribute

Alan Stern stern at rowland.harvard.edu
Sun Jun 19 15:00:01 EDT 2011

On Sun, 19 Jun 2011, Nicolas Pitre wrote:

> On Thu, 16 Jun 2011, Arnd Bergmann wrote:
> > On Thursday 16 June 2011 22:10:53 Alexander Holler wrote:
> > > Using packed doesn't seem to be necessary (at least not with those 
> > > versions of gcc I'm using here), I've tried both versions (on arm, 
> > > without packed and with packed, aligned(4)) and both are working. I've 
> > > only posted the patch because I found the usage of packed, aligned(4) 
> > > much clearer than without packed. And It might help avoiding such 
> > > discussions like this with people like me who aren't that deep involved 
> > > in gcc-specific implementation details. ;)
> > > 
> > > Anyway, feel free to nack that patch. I don't really care and just 
> > > thought I should post it (e.g. as an alternative to removing that packed).
> > 
> > At least I would be happier without the patch. I'm trying to convince
> > people to not use these attributes unless required because too much
> > harm is done when they are used without understanding the full
> > consequences. I also recommend using __packed as localized as possible,
> > i.e. set it for the members that need it, not the entire struct.
> > 
> > I agree that your patch is harmless, it's just the opposite of
> > a cleanup in my opinion.
> The question is: does the structure really has to be packed?

What do you mean?  The structure really does need to be allocated
without padding between the fields; is that the same thing?  So do a
bunch of other structures that currently have no annotations at all.

> If it does, then the follow-up question is: is a packing on word 
> boundaries sufficient?

Again, what do you mean?  The structure contains some 32-bit fields and 
it must always be allocated at a 4-byte boundary.  However there's 
nothing wrong with stricter allocation -- I don't recall the details 
but it's entirely possible that some of the fields could be 64 bits on 
some architectures, in which cases the alignment certainly should be 

> If the answer is yes in both cases, then having packed,aligned(4) is not 
> a frivolity but rather a correctness issue.

Why so?  Current systems work just fine without it.

>  We can of course provide a 
> define in include/linux/compiler-gcc.hto hide the ugliness of it 
> somewhat:
> #define __packed_32  __attribute__((packed,aligned(4)))
> I suspect that the vast majority of the __packed uses in the kernel 
> would be better with this __packed_32 instead, the actual need and 
> intent would be more clearly expressed, and the generated code in the 
> presence of those GCC changes would then be way more efficient and still 
> correct.

What if the intent is that the structure should be 4-byte aligned on 
32-bit systems and 8-byte aligned on 64-bit systems?  The compiler 
already does this sort of thing automatically, why mess with it?

Alan Stern

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