Android and compatibility with deprecated armv7 instructions

Christopher Covington cov at
Wed Jul 2 11:03:37 PDT 2014

Hi Will,

On 07/02/2014 12:16 PM, Will Deacon wrote:
> Hi Colin,
> On Wed, Jul 02, 2014 at 04:48:07PM +0100, Colin Cross wrote:
>> On Wed, Jul 2, 2014 at 3:01 AM, Will Deacon <will.deacon at> wrote:
>>> On Wed, Jul 02, 2014 at 12:48:00AM +0100, Mark Brown wrote:
>>>> On Tue, Jul 01, 2014 at 04:42:01PM -0700, Olof Johansson wrote:
>>>>> On Tue, Jul 1, 2014 at 4:06 PM, Colin Cross <ccross at> wrote:
>>>>>> Would you consider taking support for SWP emulation, enabling CP15
>>>>>> barriers (CP15BEN bit only until there's a real device that needs
>>>>>> emulation, also requires clearing COMPAT_PSR_E_BIT in
>>>>>> compat_setup_return) and enabling SETEND, all behind a default-off
>>>>> It sounds really silly to push back against this, since it's actually
>>>>> needed by so many platforms out there.
>>> The big problem with emulating instructions that don't even appear in the
>>> hardware anymore is that we end up creating baggage which we can *never*
>>> remove.
>>> I'm against SWP emulation in the kernel for a number of reasons:
>>>   (1) The hardware doesn't have the instruction at all. If we start
>>>       emulating it, then we'll always have to emulate it and it doesn't
>>>       encourage software migration.

Why should the Linux kernel have an opinion about software migration?

>>>   (2) I'm not convinced that it can't be handled in userspace by trapping
>>>       the SIGILL and emulating there (admittedly, this sounds difficult).
>>>   (3) The usual uses of SWP are in homebrew locking implementations and
>>>       are almost certainly a _bug_. For those v7 CPUs that could do SWP,
>>>       it's not even guaranteed to be atomic iirc. Trapping and emulating
>>>       is also bad for performance (although I note that Colin made an
>>>       argument that it was acceptable).
>>>   (4) This only affects legacy binaries. Should we also try to support OABI?
>>>       How about misaligned ldm/stm? We have to draw the line somewhere.

If someone has the time and interest to implement and maintain such features,
why turn them away, provided there is no performance impact on those who do
not wish to configure in the support? I think supporting everything within our
means is the right place to draw the line.

>> The problem is that we (Android) have to draw the line somewhere else
>> - there are too many highly visible apps in the app store that still
>> use these instructions.  When we add them back to our kernels, then we
>> are no longer ABI compatible with an upstream kernel.
> For an ARMv7 kernel, this is still controlled by CONFIG_SWP_EMULATE, so
> you would have the exact same issues with kernels where that has been turned
> off. You assumedly have a bunch of patches on top of mainline for Android; I
> don't understand why this one is any different.

As for the number of out-of-tree patches, I've been able to run a minimal
Android userspace with just one cgroups patch applied on top of
torvalds/master for at least the past year.

As for the nature of the out-of-tree patches, I don't think this issue is any
different. I think everyone would be better off if the patches or suitable
replacements could be merged and everyone could work off of the same codebase.
My guess is that upstream would get more testing and more contributions and
downstream could work more efficiently.


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