Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?

Article: Fall Processor Forum 2006: IBM's POWER6
By: Linus Torvalds (torvalds.delete@this.osdl.org), October 28, 2006 4:29 pm
Room: Moderated Discussions
Michael S (already5chosen@yahoo.com) on 10/28/06 wrote:
>
>x86 ordering rules are by themselves a compromise between
>robustness (stores observed in program order by all
>parties) and efficiency (independent loads could be
>reordered).

Actually, both loads and stores are potentially OoO,
the only difference is really that the stores go through
a store buffer that is tied to retirement in a way that
loads are not (for reasons that have little to do with
"memory ordering" per se, and everything to do with the
fact that all OoO events are supposed to look
in-order as far as the single thread itself is concerned).

So as a result, stores may "look" more ordered, but it's
not actually necessarily any truer for them than for loads
from a microarchitectural standpoint.

>Why do you feel that this specific compromise is the most
>acceptable?

I actually think that the most acceptable situation
is to make both loads and stores "appear" totally ordered,
and just execute (both) totally out-of-order.

In fact, despite all the documentation otherwise, at least
according to one x86 architect I've talked to, that's
what some (and he actually claimed "all") implementations
of the x86 architecture really do. And yes, the reason
is exactly to make sure you don't break software by mistake.

So it's actually possible that read barriers on x86 are
basically just expensive no-ops. I don't know how to test
that well, and it's not something I'd like to depend on
anyway (since the architecture documentation clearly says
that you should not depend on it), but if it were
to be true, I'd actually be happier.

Exactly because - as you say - that's obviously even
more robust, and less surprising to the software
side. This is not an issue of "totally robust" versus
"totally fragile" - it's very much a matter of degrees.

That said, there are many reasons to think that stores
are more important to appear in-order than loads,
exactly because of the kinds of situations that were
discussed wrt Java VM implementations. Having stores
appear in order is one big chunk, but so is (for example)
having loads always appear in order at least if they
are causally dependent on each other.

And as mentioned, x86 actually is ordered even wrt
loads, at least for the dependent ones. This is something
that people depend on, not just in Java VM's. It's possible
that x86's are actually a lot more ordered than that too,
despite the language in the architecture documentation.

>It seems x86 lack of ordering on loads causes no major
>headaches in practice solely due to the fact that typical
>IPC code contains atomic primitives and in case of
>x86 all SMP-safe atomic primitives contain memory barrier.

The architect I talked to seemed to imply that there is
a lot of crap code out there, and that it's simply easier
for them in the end to guarantee "total ordering" than
to spend all their time validating that nobody depends on
it.

Which is actually a powerful argument. If you guarantee
that all memory activity will always appear as if it was
done in order (even though obviously that isn't true on
a micro-architectural level - the uarch just makes sure
it catches the cases where it would visibly break
that rule), you avoid a whole class of worries about some
particular application or OS depending on some particular
ordering constraint that just happened to work.

The validation cost is often as big (or potentially bigger)
than the cost of actually doing the design, so validation
concerns are not to be brushed aside. When releasing a new
CPU, one of the biggest negative issues may be code that
simply doesn't work with the new CPU, or that crashes
randomly becaue some queue was lengthened and code that
used to work simply doesn't work reliably any more.

>Rigorously applying you philosophy, “the uarch has to do
>the right thing” in case of the loads as well as in case
>of the stores.

As per above, we may actually have that in practice.

That said, my philosophy was always "accept reality". If
I can't get "perfect", I can at least try to encourage
that which comes closest.

So in a perfect world, the uarch would indeed make all
accesses appear totally ordered. And if that isn't
true, there are some re-orderings that are less painful
than others for software..

Btw, in all of these cases, I'd like to point out (again)
that IO accesses are fundamentally different from "normal"
memory accesses, because anything that actually has side
effects can obviously not speculatively be re-ordered
and then made to look ordered.

So when it comes to IO accesses, you really don't have the
choice of "hiding" microarchitectural choices, and your
choices are:

- always totally in-order ("default" case on x86)

- ways to mark certain areas as being ordering-neutral
within certain confines (eg the "write-combining" and
"prefetchable" IO memory regions on x86)

- explicit buffering rules (ie traditional memory ordering
instructions, including sfence/lfence on modern x86)

So for the specific case of IO memory ("side effects"), I
think explicit memory ordering is a totally different issue,
simply because the "hide from software" isn't an option.

Linus
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                                                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/27 10:53 AM
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                                                                          Explicit vs implicit barriersLinus Torvalds2006/10/27 06:28 PM
                                                                            Explicit vs implicit barriersTzvetan Mikov2006/10/28 06:02 PM
                                                                              Explicit vs implicit barriersLinus Torvalds2006/10/28 07:55 PM
                                                                                Explicit vs implicit barriersRob Thorpe2006/10/31 12:37 PM
                                                                            Explicit vs implicit barriersRob Thorpe2006/10/31 12:15 PM
                                                                          Explicit vs implicit barriersrwessel2006/10/27 06:39 PM
                                                                      Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Michael S2006/10/28 02:10 PM
                                                                        Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Linus Torvalds2006/10/28 04:29 PM
                                                                          Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Ricardo B2006/10/30 06:36 AM
                                                                            Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Linus Torvalds2006/10/30 09:57 AM
                                                                              Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Tzvetan Mikov2006/10/30 11:55 AM
                                                                                Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Michael S2006/10/30 12:14 PM
                                                                                  Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Tzvetan Mikov2006/10/30 12:20 PM
                                                                                    Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Michael S2006/10/30 01:11 PM
                                                                                      A reference would be nice :-) (NT)Tzvetan Mikov2006/10/30 01:32 PM
                                                                                        A reference Michael S2006/10/30 03:37 PM
                                                                                          A reference Tzvetan Mikov2006/11/03 08:57 PM
                                                                                            check your e-mbox (NT)Michael S2006/11/04 12:47 PM
                                                                                      Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?David Kanter2006/10/30 01:40 PM
                                                                                        Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Michael S2006/10/30 02:28 PM
                                                                                          Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?David Kanter2006/10/30 02:43 PM
                                                                                            Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Michael S2006/10/30 04:36 PM
                                                                                              Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?David Kanter2006/10/30 10:14 PM
                                                                                Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Linus Torvalds2006/10/30 12:53 PM
                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/31 11:25 AM
                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/31 12:59 PM
                                                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/31 01:38 PM
                                                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/31 02:02 PM
                                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/31 03:54 PM
                                                                                Will reply tommorrow, very busy today (NT)Rob Thorpe2006/11/01 11:14 AM
                                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/11/02 01:30 PM
                                                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentrwessel2006/11/02 02:06 PM
                                                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/03 02:39 AM
                                                                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/11/03 09:40 AM
                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/03 10:12 AM
                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/11/03 01:20 PM
                                                                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/06 03:42 AM
                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentEric Bron2006/11/04 04:47 AM
                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/06 04:13 AM
                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/04 12:29 PM
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                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/06 03:54 AM
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                                                                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/07 01:54 AM
                                                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/07 04:34 PM
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                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentrwessel2006/11/04 10:23 PM
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                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/11/05 10:14 AM
                                                                                          unaligned SSE testsEric Bron2006/11/05 02:26 PM
                                                                                            unaligned SSE testsMichael S2006/11/05 03:47 PM
                                                                                              unaligned SSE testsEric Bron2006/11/05 04:23 PM
                                                                                                unaligned SSE testsMichael S2006/11/05 05:03 PM
                                                                                                  unaligned SSE testsEric Bron2006/11/05 05:28 PM
                                                                                                    Now results make sense. How about Psc? (NT)Michael S2006/11/05 05:37 PM
                                                                                                      tomorrow, it's 01:43 PM where I'm (NT)Eric Bron2006/11/05 05:44 PM
                                                                                                        I mean 01:43 AM (NT)Eric Bron2006/11/05 05:45 PM
                                                                                                      PSC scoresEric Bron2006/11/06 02:25 AM
                                                                                                        PSC scoresMichael S2006/11/06 04:28 AM
                                                                                                          PSC scoresIan Ameline2006/11/06 09:00 AM
                                                                                                            meaningful performance gainMichael S2006/11/06 09:33 AM
                                                                                                              meaningful performance gainLinus Torvalds2006/11/06 11:15 AM
                                                                                                                Dynamically resolved alignmentDavid Kanter2006/11/06 12:49 PM
                                                                                                                  Dynamically resolved alignmentRicardo B2006/11/06 01:46 PM
                                                                                                                  Dynamically resolved alignmentLinus Torvalds2006/11/06 01:48 PM
                                                                                                                meaningful performance gainEric Bron2006/11/07 02:23 AM
                                                                                                        RE: "I suppose we will have to continue to align" ...Not really :)redpriest2006/11/06 05:11 PM
                                                                                                          Your point?Michael S2006/11/06 05:47 PM
                                                                                                            Actually Michael, it's quite a bit more than that.redpriest2006/11/06 06:30 PM
                                                                                                              Actually Michael, it's quite a bit more than that.anonymous2006/11/06 08:36 PM
                                                                                                                Actually Michael, it's quite a bit more than that.Linus Torvalds2006/11/06 09:01 PM
                                                                                                                  Actually Michael, it's quite a bit more than that.Rob Thorpe2006/11/07 03:31 AM
                                                                                                                  Actually Michael, it's quite a bit more than that.anonymous2006/11/07 07:27 AM
                                                                                                              link vs linqMichael S2006/11/07 02:04 AM
                                                                                                                link vs linqanonymous2006/11/07 07:13 AM
                                                                                                                  Thank you (NT)Michael S2006/11/07 08:04 AM
                                                                                                          Barcelona dreamsEric Bron2006/11/07 01:08 AM
                                                                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/05 03:14 PM
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                                                                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/11/05 09:09 PM
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                                                                                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/11/06 03:48 PM
                                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/06 04:44 PM
                                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/11/06 04:53 PM
                                                                                                        A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/07 09:45 AM
                                                                                                          A common problemWilco2006/11/09 04:46 PM
                                                                                                            A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/10 08:29 AM
                                                                                                              A common problemrwessel2006/11/13 04:47 PM
                                                                                                                A common problemWilco2006/11/13 05:51 PM
                                                                                                                  A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/14 03:38 AM
                                                                                                                    A common problemLinus Torvalds2006/11/14 09:37 AM
                                                                                                                      A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/14 11:18 AM
                                                                                                                        A common problemagony2006/11/14 02:57 PM
                                                                                                                          A common problemrwessel2006/11/14 04:13 PM
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                                                                                                                      A common problemCarlie Coats2006/11/16 06:38 AM
                                                                                                                        A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/16 07:29 AM
                                                                                                                    A common problemWilco2006/11/15 02:13 PM
                                                                                                                      A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/16 09:20 AM
                                                                                                                        A common problemrwessel2006/11/16 04:27 PM
                                                                                                                        A common problemWilco2006/11/17 02:20 PM
                                                                                                                          A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/20 04:14 AM
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                                                        pythonFoo_2006/10/28 01:51 AM
                                                          pythonTzvetan Mikov2006/10/28 04:55 PM
                                                            pythonFoo_2006/10/29 03:51 AM
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                                            Language safety in a multithread environment (Lock-free structures)Linus Torvalds2006/10/28 11:58 AM
                                              Language safety in a multithread environment (Lock-free structures)Ray2006/10/28 04:47 PM
                                                Language safety in a multithread environment (Lock-free structures)Linus Torvalds2006/10/28 08:02 PM
                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentJuho Snellman2006/10/25 03:59 AM
                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/25 04:38 AM
                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentJuho Snellman2006/10/25 06:38 AM
                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/25 07:06 AM
                                                More on this topicRob Thorpe2006/10/25 08:41 AM
                                                  More on this topicTzvetan Mikov2006/10/25 10:17 AM
                                                    More on this topicRob Thorpe2006/10/26 02:02 AM
                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentJuho Snellman2006/10/25 10:33 AM
                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/26 01:48 AM
                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentS. Rao2006/10/23 03:40 PM
                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/23 11:38 PM
                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/10/24 01:02 AM
                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentS. Rao2006/10/24 12:40 PM
                                        Comparison to stack allocationRob Thorpe2006/10/24 03:09 AM
                                          Comparison to stack allocationS. Rao2006/10/24 12:32 PM
                                            Exactly, see my other post (NT)Rob Thorpe2006/10/25 12:53 AM
                          Language safety in a multithread environmentDavid Wragg2006/10/20 02:46 AM
                            Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/21 09:24 AM
                          Ugh, evil problemRob Thorpe2006/10/20 03:56 AM
                            Ugh, evil problemGabriele Svelto2006/10/20 04:38 AM
                              Ugh, evil problemRob Thorpe2006/10/20 05:47 AM
                                Ugh, evil problemGabriele Svelto2006/10/20 05:54 AM
                                Ugh, evil problemRicardo B2006/10/20 06:43 AM
                            Ugh, evil problemJasonB2006/10/20 06:17 AM
                              Ugh, evil problemS. Rao2006/10/20 08:09 PM
                                Ugh, evil problemJasonB2006/10/21 07:58 AM
                                SecondedRob Thorpe2006/10/23 01:53 AM
                          Copying GC Rob Thorpe2006/10/23 02:51 AM
                            Copying GC Tzvetan Mikov2006/10/23 11:13 PM
                              Copying GC Rob Thorpe2006/10/24 01:22 AM
              Python + native extensionsFoo_2006/10/18 02:29 PM
                Python + native extensionssp2006/10/19 01:05 AM
  z9 - Power5 connection?foobar2006/10/17 01:15 PM
    z9 - Power5 connection?David Kanter2006/10/17 02:03 PM
      z9 - Power5 connection?foobar2006/10/17 02:33 PM
        z9 - Power5 connection?rwessel2006/10/17 07:39 PM
          z9 - Power5 connection?foobar2006/10/17 08:38 PM
            Sounds like I should edit the article...David Kanter2006/10/17 10:48 PM
            z9 - Power5 connection?Jesper Frimann2006/10/17 11:59 PM
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How do you spell avocado?