[PATCH v6 1/3] iommu: Implement common IOMMU ops for DMA mapping

Tomasz Figa tfiga at chromium.org
Tue Nov 3 21:12:03 PST 2015

On Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 2:41 AM, Robin Murphy <robin.murphy at arm.com> wrote:
> Hi Tomasz,
> On 02/11/15 13:43, Tomasz Figa wrote:
>> I'd like to know what is the boundary mask and what hardware imposes
>> requirements like this. The cost here is not only over-allocating a
>> little, but making many, many buffers contiguously mappable on the
>> CPU, unmappable contiguously in IOMMU, which just defeats the purpose
>> of having an IOMMU, which I believe should be there for simple IP
>> blocks taking one DMA address to be able to view the buffer the same
>> way as the CPU.
> The expectation with dma_map_sg() is that you're either going to be
> iterating over the buffer segments, handing off each address to the device
> to process one by one;

My understanding of a scatterlist was that it represents a buffer as a
whole, by joining together its physically discontinuous segments.

I don't see how single segments (layout of which is completely up to
the allocator; often just single pages) would be usable for hardware
that needs to do some work more serious than just writing a byte
stream continuously to subsequent buffers. In case of such simple
devices you don't even need an IOMMU (for means other than protection
and/or getting over address space limitations).

However, IMHO the most important use case of an IOMMU is to make
buffers, which are contiguous in CPU virtual address space (VA),
contiguous in device's address space (IOVA). Your implementation of
dma_map_sg() effectively breaks this ability, so I'm not really
following why it's located under drivers/iommu and supposed to be used
with IOMMU-enabled platforms...

> or you have a scatter-gather-capable device, in which
> case you hand off the whole list at once.

No need for mapping ability of the IOMMU here as well (except for
working around address space issues, as I mentioned above).

> It's in the latter case where you
> have to make sure the list doesn't exceed the hardware limitations of that
> device. I believe the original concern was disk controllers (the
> introduction of dma_parms seems to originate from the linux-scsi list), but
> most scatter-gather engines are going to have some limit on how much they
> can handle per entry (IMO the dmaengine drivers are the easiest example to
> look at).
> Segment boundaries are a little more arcane, but my assumption is that they
> relate to the kind of devices whose addressing is not flat but relative to
> some separate segment register (The "64-bit" mode of USB EHCI is one
> concrete example I can think of) - since you cannot realistically change the
> segment register while the device is in the middle of accessing a single
> buffer entry, that entry must not fall across a segment boundary or at some
> point the device's accesses are going to overflow the offset address bits
> and wrap around to bogus addresses at the bottom of the segment.

The two requirements above sound like something really specific to
scatter-gather-capable hardware, which as I pointed above, barely need
an IOMMU (at least its mapping capabilities). We are talking here
about very IOMMU-specific code, though...

Now, while I see that on some systems there might be IOMMU used for
improving protection and working around addressing issues with
SG-capable hardware, the code shouldn't be breaking the majority of
systems with IOMMU used as the only possible way to make physically
discontinuous appear (IO-virtually) continuous to devices incapable of

> Now yes, it will be possible under _most_ circumstances to use an IOMMU to
> lay out a list of segments with page-aligned lengths within a single IOVA
> allocation whilst still meeting all the necessary constraints. It just needs
> some unavoidably complicated calculations - quite likely significantly more
> complex than my v5 version of map_sg() that tried to do that and merge
> segments but failed to take the initial alignment into account properly -
> since there are much simpler ways to enforce just the _necessary_ behaviour
> for the DMA API, I put the complicated stuff to one side for now to prevent
> it holding up getting the basic functional support in place.

Somehow just whatever currently done in arch/arm/mm/dma-mapping.c was
sufficient and not overly complicated.

See http://lxr.free-electrons.com/source/arch/arm/mm/dma-mapping.c#L1547 .

I can see that the code there at least tries to comply with maximum
segment size constraint. Segment boundary seems to be ignored, though.
However, I'm convinced that in most (if not all) cases where IOMMU
IOVA-contiguous mapping is needed, those two requirements don't exist.
Do we really have to break the good hardware only because the
bad^Wlimited one is broken?

Couldn't we preserve the ARM-like behavior whenever
dma_parms->segment_boundary_mask is set to all 1s and
dma_parms->max_segment_size to UINT_MAX (what currently drivers used
to set) or 0 (sounds more logical for the meaning of "no maximum

>>>>> Hmm, I thought the DMA API maps a (possibly) non-contiguous set of
>>>>> memory pages into a contiguous block in device memory address space.
>>>>> This would allow passing a dma mapped buffer to device dma using just
>>>>> a device address and length.
>>>> Not at all. The streaming DMA API (dma_map_* and friends) has two
>>>> responsibilities: performing any necessary cache maintenance to ensure the
>>>> device will correctly see data from the CPU, and the CPU will correctly see
>>>> data from the device; and working out an address for that buffer from the
>>>> device's point of view to actually hand off to the hardware (which is
>>>> perfectly well allowed to fail).
>> Agreed. The dma_map_*() API is not guaranteed to return a single
>> contiguous part of virtual address space for any given SG list.
>> However it was understood to be able to map buffers contiguously
>> mappable by the CPU into a single segment and users,
>> videobuf2-dma-contig in particular, relied on this.
> I don't follow that - _any_ buffer made of page-sized chunks is going to be
> mappable contiguously by the CPU;'

Yes it is. Actually the last chunk might not even need to be
page-sized. However I believe we can have a scatterlist consisting of
non-page-sized chunks in the middle as well, which is obviously not
mappable in a contiguous way even for the CPU.

> it's clearly impossible for the streaming
> DMA API itself to offer such a guarantee, because it's entirely orthogonal
> to the presence or otherwise of an IOMMU.

But we are talking here about the very IOMMU-specific implementation of DMA API.

> Furthermore, I can't see any existing dma_map_sg implementation (between
> arm/64 and x86, at least), that _won't_ break that expectation under certain
> conditions (ranging from "relatively pathological" to "always"), so it still
> seems questionable to have a dependency on it.

The current implementation for arch/arm doesn't break that
expectation. As long as we fit inside the maximum segment size (which
in most, if not all, cases of the hardware that actually requires such
contiguous mapping to be created, is UINT_MAX).


>>>> Consider SWIOTLB's implementation - segments which already lie at
>>>> physical addresses within the device's DMA mask just get passed through,
>>>> while those that lie outside it get mapped into the bounce buffer, but still
>>>> as individual allocations (arch code just handles cache maintenance on the
>>>> resulting physical addresses and can apply any hard-wired DMA offset for the
>>>> device concerned).
>> And this is fine for vb2-dma-contig, which was made for devices that
>> require buffers contiguous in its address space. Without IOMMU it will
>> allow only physically contiguous buffers and fails otherwise, which is
>> fine, because it's a hardware requirement.
> If it depends on having contiguous-from-the-device's-view DMA buffers either
> way, that's a sign it should perhaps be using the coherent DMA API instead,
> which _does_ give such a guarantee. I'm well aware of the "but the
> noncacheable mappings make userspace access unacceptably slow!" issue many
> folks have with that, though, and don't particularly fancy going off on that
> tangent here.

The keywords here are DMA-BUF and user pointer. Neither of these cases
can use coherent DMA API, because the buffer is already allocated, so
it just needs to be mapped into another device's (or its IOMMU's)
address space. Obviously we can't guarantee mappability of such
buffers, e.g. in case of importing non-contiguous buffers to a device
without an IOMMU, However we expect the pipelines to be sane
(physically contiguous buffers or both devices IOMMU-enabled), so that
such things won't happen.

>>>>> IIUC, the change above breaks this model by inserting gaps in how the
>>>>> buffer is mapped to device memory, such that the buffer is no longer
>>>>> contiguous in dma address space.
>>>> Even the existing arch/arm IOMMU DMA code which I guess this implicitly
>>>> relies on doesn't guarantee that behaviour - if the mapping happens to reach
>>>> one of the segment length/boundary limits it won't just leave a gap, it'll
>>>> start an entirely new IOVA allocation which could well start at a wildly
>>>> different address[0].
>> Could you explain segment length/boundary limits and when buffers can
>> reach them? Sorry, i haven't been following all the discussions, but
>> I'm not aware of any similar requirements of the IOMMU hardware I
>> worked with.
> I hope the explanation at the top makes sense - it's purely about the
> requirements of the DMA master device itself, nothing to do with the IOMMU
> (or lack of) in the middle. Devices with scatter-gather DMA limitations
> exist, therefore the API for scatter-gather DMA is designed to represent and
> respect such limitations.

Yes, it makes sense, thanks for the explanation. However there also
exist devices with no scatter-gather capability, but behind an IOMMU
without such fancy mapping limitations. I believe we should also
respect the limitation of such setups, which is the lack of support
for multiple IOVA segments.

>>>>> So, is the videobuf2-dma-contig.c based on an incorrect assumption
>>>>> about how the DMA API is supposed to work?
>>>>> Is it even possible to map a "contiguous-in-iova-range" mapping for a
>>>>> buffer given as an sg_table with an arbitrary set of pages?
>>>>  From the Streaming DMA mappings section of Documentation/DMA-API.txt:
>>>>    Note also that the above constraints on physical contiguity and
>>>>    dma_mask may not apply if the platform has an IOMMU (a device which
>>>>    maps an I/O DMA address to a physical memory address).  However, to
>>>> be
>>>>    portable, device driver writers may *not* assume that such an IOMMU
>>>>    exists.
>>>> There's not strictly any harm in using the DMA API this way and *hoping*
>>>> you get what you want, as long as you're happy for it to fail pretty much
>>>> 100% of the time on some systems, and still in a minority of corner cases on
>>>> any system.
>> Could you please elaborate? I'd like to see examples, because I can't
>> really imagine buffers mappable contiguously on CPU, but not on IOMMU.
>> Also, as I said, the hardware I worked with didn't suffer from
>> problems like this.
> "...device driver writers may *not* assume that such an IOMMU exists."

And this is exactly why they _should_ use dma_map_sg(), because it was
supposed to work correctly for both physically contiguous (i.e. 1
segment) buffers and non-IOMMU-enabled devices, as well as with
non-contiguous (i.e. > 1 segment) buffers and IOMMU-enabled devices.

>>>> However, if there's a real dependency on IOMMUs and tight control of
>>>> IOVA allocation here, then the DMA API isn't really the right tool for the
>>>> job, and maybe it's time to start looking to how to better fit these
>>>> multimedia-subsystem-type use cases into the IOMMU API - as far as I
>>>> understand it there's at least some conceptual overlap with the HSA PASID
>>>> stuff being prototyped in PCI/x86-land at the moment, so it could be an
>>>> apposite time to try and bang out some common requirements.
>> The DMA API is actually the only good tool to use here to keep the
>> videobuf2-dma-contig code away from the knowledge about platform
>> specific data, e.g. presence of IOMMU. The only thing it knows is that
>> the target hardware requires a single contiguous buffer and it relies
>> on the fact that in correct cases the buffer given to it will meet
>> this requirement (i.e. physically contiguous w/o IOMMU; CPU mappable
>> with IOMMU).
> As above; the DMA API guarantees only what the DMA API guarantees. An
> IOMMU-based implementation of streaming DMA is free to identity-map pages if
> it only cares about device isolation; a non-IOMMU implementation is free to
> provide streaming DMA remapping via some elaborate bounce-buffering scheme

I guess this is the area where our understandings of IOMMU-backed DMA
API differ.

> if it really wants to. GART-type IOMMUs... let's not even go there.

I believe that's how IOMMU-based implementation of DMA API was
supposed to work when first implemented for ARM...

> If v4l needs a guarantee of a single contiguous DMA buffer, then it needs to
> use dma_alloc_coherent() for that, not streaming mappings.

Except that it can't use it, because the buffers are already allocated
by another entity.

Best regards,

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