Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]

By: Adrian (a.delete@this.acm.org), June 30, 2022 5:36 am
Room: Moderated Discussions
Kester L (nobody.delete@this.nothing.com) on June 29, 2022 1:49 pm wrote:
> https://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=3534854
>
>

> The linear address space as a concept is unsafe at any speed, and it badly needs mandatory CHERI
> seat belts. But even better would be to get rid of linear address spaces entirely and go back to
> the future, as successfully implemented in the Rational R1000 computer 30-plus years ago.
>

>
> Your thoughts on this article? I was under the impression that a lot of the 80s attempts
> at capability machines (or really, anything that wasn't trying to be a glorified PDP-11)
> floundered because of performance and cost issues (i.e. the Intel i432).
>
>


There are some valid points in the article (and I also have a very good opinion of much of the past work of PHK), but as others have also noted, some of the article is confusing, especially the phrase "The linear address space as a concept is unsafe at any speed", where it is not at all clear what is meant, before reading all the article.


The correct point of the article is that, for the purpose of memory protection, paging is much worse, and it has always been much worse than using segments.

CHERI is a method of memory protection using segments, but they use the word "capabilities" instead of "segments", because the latter word is tainted in the minds of all people, including myself, who have been traumatized by how inconvenient it was to use segments for memory protection in Intel 80286.

While 80386 had lots of other improvements over 80286, by far the one which made most people happy was being able to use paging instead of the memory segments of 80286.


Nevertheless, if better memory protection is desired, then the only way to do that is to go back to segments for memory protection, and CHERI claims to implement this in the right way, not like in the old times.

I have browsed the CHERI documentation only superficially, but it appears to be reasonably well conceived. A CPU with CHERI should also be able to run unmodified legacy programs, but it remains to be seen how soon there will be any major operating systems or applications which would really take advantage of the improved memory protection features, even if ARM might implement CHERI on some of their future cores.


With CHERI, the memory protection and dynamic relocation functions of paging would become redundant, so the only valid justification for the great hardware complexity added by the support for paging in 64-bit ISAs would remain the avoidance of memory fragmentation in the memory allocators used by the operating systems.


In the memory allocators used by individual processes it is possible to completely avoid memory fragmentation, e.g. by using separate memory pools for different object sizes.

I have always wondered if there also is any good method to avoid memory fragmentation in the memory allocator of the operating system, without using paging and without forcing the processes to move their already allocated objects, like in the old MS Windows versions made to be compatible with 80286 or 8088/8086.

If that were true, removing completely paging and replacing it with some variant of CHERI would be a great simplification at this time, not only in comparison with paging + CHERI, but also in comparison with paging alone. Paging in 80386 was simpler than segmentation in 80286, but in the recent CPUs paging has become much more complicated than a segmentation scheme like CHERI.

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TopicPosted ByDate
Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Kester L2022/06/29 01:49 PM
  Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Rayla2022/06/29 02:14 PM
    Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Kester L2022/06/29 02:43 PM
      Not just worse-is-betterMark Roulo2022/06/29 03:21 PM
        Not just worse-is-better---2022/06/29 07:07 PM
  Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]2022/06/30 12:08 AM
    Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Groo2022/06/30 12:56 PM
      Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Michael S2022/06/30 02:17 PM
  Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Eric Fink2022/06/30 01:43 AM
  Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]dmcq2022/06/30 03:17 AM
  Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Adrian2022/06/30 05:36 AM
    Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]anonymou52022/06/30 07:28 AM
      Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Anon42022/06/30 04:37 PM
        Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]anonymou52022/06/30 06:19 PM
          Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]dmcq2022/07/01 04:16 AM
            Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]anonymou52022/07/01 05:40 AM
              Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]dmcq2022/07/01 06:11 AM
                Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]anonymou52022/07/01 08:09 AM
              Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]dmcq2022/07/01 06:11 AM
                Why the duplicates?dmcq2022/07/01 06:18 AM
              Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]2022/07/01 10:41 PM
    Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Foo_2022/06/30 07:43 AM
      Fragmentation: Both Size and LifetimeMark Roulo2022/06/30 08:25 AM
        Fragmentation: Both Size and Lifetime2022/06/30 10:09 AM
          Fragmentation: Both Size and Lifetimedmcq2022/06/30 11:12 AM
          Fragmentation: Both Size and LifetimeBrendan2022/06/30 04:08 PM
            Fragmentation: Both Size and Lifetime2022/07/02 03:12 AM
              Fragmentation: Both Size and LifetimeBrendan2022/07/02 01:56 PM
                Fragmentation: Both Size and Lifetime2022/07/04 05:34 AM
                  Fragmentation: Both Size and LifetimeBrendan2022/07/04 06:33 AM
                    Fragmentation: Both Size and Lifetime2022/07/04 07:35 AM
                      Fragmentation: Both Size and LifetimeBrendan2022/07/04 04:21 PM
                    Atom is just living at the Dunning-Krueger peakHeikki Kultala2022/07/04 09:26 AM
                      Atom is just living at the Dunning-Krueger peak2022/07/04 09:57 AM
      Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Adrian2022/06/30 08:31 AM
        Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Foo_2022/06/30 09:07 AM
          Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Adrian2022/06/30 09:43 AM
            Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Foo_2022/07/01 03:21 AM
              Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Adrian2022/07/01 09:58 PM
                Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Foo_2022/07/03 02:45 AM
                  Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Adrian2022/07/03 10:04 PM
                    Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]ananon2022/07/04 02:35 AM
                    Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Foo_2022/07/04 03:11 AM
                      Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Adrian2022/07/05 01:36 AM
                    Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]2022/07/04 04:18 AM
                    Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]TAG2022/07/04 07:50 AM
                    Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Brendan2022/07/04 04:54 PM
                      Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Brendan2022/07/04 05:05 PM
                      Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Adrian2022/07/05 02:18 AM
                        Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Brendan2022/07/06 05:16 PM
                          Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Adrian2022/07/07 12:33 AM
        Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]2022/06/30 10:40 AM
    Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]---2022/06/30 08:28 AM
      Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Michael S2022/06/30 01:00 PM
    Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Jörn Engel2022/06/30 05:34 PM
      Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Adrian2022/07/01 12:55 AM
        Sorry, typo correctionAdrian2022/07/01 01:04 AM
        Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]2022/07/01 04:01 AM
          Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Adrian2022/07/01 11:00 PM
            Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]rwessel2022/07/02 07:16 AM
        Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Jörn Engel2022/07/01 09:40 AM
          Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Adrian2022/07/01 11:15 PM
  Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Brendan2022/06/30 11:09 AM
    Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]dmcq2022/06/30 11:20 AM
      Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Brendan2022/06/30 03:52 PM
        Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]dmcq2022/07/01 06:06 AM
          Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Brendan2022/07/01 01:24 PM
            Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]rwessel2022/07/01 08:55 PM
  Linear Address Spaces - Free lunch?Björn Ragnar Björnsson2022/07/02 06:44 PM
    Linear Address Spaces - Free lunch?dmcq2022/07/03 04:30 AM
      Linear Address Spaces - Free lunch?Björn Ragnar Björnsson2022/07/03 04:50 PM
  Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Paul A. Clayton2022/07/18 07:49 AM
    Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Adrian2022/07/18 10:21 AM
      Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Brendan2022/07/18 03:11 PM
        Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]anon22022/07/18 04:54 PM
          Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Adrian2022/07/18 10:22 PM
            Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Michael S2022/07/19 01:00 AM
              Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Adrian2022/07/19 05:50 AM
        Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Adrian2022/07/18 11:02 PM
          Linear Address Spaces: Unsafe at any speed [article]Brendan2022/07/19 08:29 PM
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