[RFC PATCH v2 00/41] Scalable Vector Extension (SVE) core support

Dave Martin Dave.Martin at arm.com
Mon Apr 3 02:45:04 PDT 2017

On Fri, Mar 31, 2017 at 04:28:16PM +0100, Ard Biesheuvel wrote:
> On 22 March 2017 at 14:50, Dave Martin <Dave.Martin at arm.com> wrote:
> Hi Dave,
> > The Scalable Vector Extension (SVE) [1] is an extension to AArch64 which
> > adds extra SIMD functionality and supports much larger vectors.
> >
> > This series implements core Linux support for SVE.
> >
> [...]
> > KERNEL_MODE_NEON (non-)support
> > ------------------------------
> >
> > "arm64/sve: [BROKEN] Basic support for KERNEL_MODE_NEON" is broken.
> > There are significant design issues here that need discussion -- see the
> > commit message for details.
> >
> > Options:
> >
> >  * Make KERNEL_MODE_NEON a runtime choice, and disable it if SVE is
> >    present.
> >
> >  * Fully SVE-ise the KERNEL_MODE_NEON code: this will involve complexity
> >    and effort, and may involve unfavourable (and VL-dependent) tradeoffs
> >    compared with the no-SVE case.
> >
> >    We will nonetheless need something like this if there is a desire to
> >    support "kernel mode SVE" in the future.  The fact that with SVE,
> >    KERNEL_MODE_NEON brings the cost of kernel-mode SVE but only the
> >    benefits of kernel-mode NEON argues in favour of this.
> >
> >  * Make KERNEL_MODE_NEON a dynamic choice, and have clients run fallback
> >    C code instead if at runtime on a case-by-case basis, if SVE regs
> >    would otherwise need saving.
> >
> >    This is an interface break, but all NEON-optimised kernel code
> >    necessarily requires a fallback C implementation to exist anyway, and
> >    the number of clients is not huge.
> >
> > We could go for a stopgap solution that at least works but is suboptimal
> > for SVE systems (such as the first choice above), and then improve it
> > later.
> >
> Without having looked at the patches in detail yet, let me reiterate
> my position after we discussed this when this series was sent out the
> first time around.
> - The primary use case for kernel mode NEON is special purpose
> instructions, i.e., AES is 20x faster when using the NEON, simply
> because that is how one accesses the logic gates that implement the
> AES algorithm. There is nothing SIMD or FP in nature about AES.
> Compare the CRC extensions, which use scalar registers and
> instructions. Of course, there are a couple of exceptions in the form
> of bit-slicing algorithms, but in general, like general SIMD, I don't
> think it is highly likely that SVE in kernel mode is something we will
> have a need for in the foreseeable future.

Certainly there is no immediate need for this, and if we decide we never
need it then that helps us avoid some complexity.

My main concern is around the extra save/restore cost, given that if
the SVE registers are live then save/restore of the full SVE vectors
is needed even if only FPSIMD is used in the meantime.

> - The current way of repeatedly stacking/unstacking NEON register
> contents in interrupt context is highly inefficient, given that we are
> usually interrupting user mode, not kernel mode, and so stacking once
> and unstacking when returning from the exception (which is how we
> usually deal with it) would be much better. So changing the current
> implementation to perform the eager stack/unstack only when a kernel
> mode NEON call is already in progress is likely to improve our current
> situation already, regardless of whether such a change is needed to
> accommodate SVE. Note that to my knowledge, the only in-tree users of
> kernel mode NEON operate in process context or softirq context, never
> in hardirq context.


> Given the above, I think it is perfectly reasonable to conditionally
> disallow kernel mode NEON in hardirq context. The crypto routines that
> rely on it can easily be fixed up (I already wrote the patches for
> that). This would only be necessary on SVE systems, and the reason for
> doing so is that - given how preserving and restoring the NEON
> register file blows away the upper SVE part of the registers - whoever
> arrives at the SVE-aware preserve routine first should be allowed to
> run to completion. This does require disabling softirqs during the
> time the preserved NEON state is being manipulated but that does not
> strike me as a huge price to pay. Note that both restrictions
> (disallowing kernel mode NEON in hardirq context, and the need to
> disable softirqs while manipulating the state) could be made runtime
> dependent on whether we are actually running on an SVE system.

Given that we already bail out of kernel_neon_begin() with a WARN() if
the hardware lacks FPSIMD, I'm not sure it would be worse to do the same
if SVE is present.

However, we should probably abstract that check: currently, drivers
seemt to be using a cocktail of Kconfig dependencies,
MODULE_DEVICE_TABLE() and runtime hwcap checks in order to deduce
whether kernel_neon_begin() is safe to use.

Would you be happy with a single API for checking whether
kernel_neon_begin() works?  Maintaining this check in every driver
doesn't feel very scalable.

This would allow SVE to disable KERNEL_MODE_NEON without having to make
them conflict in Kconfig.  This wouldn't be our end goal, but it allows
the dependency to be decoupled while we figure out a better solution.

I'll try and come up with a patch.


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