memory barriers in bus_dmamap_sync() ?

Luigi Rizzo rizzo at
Wed Jan 11 16:12:45 UTC 2012

On Wed, Jan 11, 2012 at 10:05:28AM -0500, John Baldwin wrote:
> On Tuesday, January 10, 2012 5:41:00 pm Luigi Rizzo wrote:
> > On Tue, Jan 10, 2012 at 01:52:49PM -0800, Adrian Chadd wrote:
> > > On 10 January 2012 13:37, Luigi Rizzo <rizzo at> wrote:
> > > > I was glancing through manpages and implementations of bus_dma(9)
> > > > and i am a bit unclear on what this API (in particular, bus_dmamap_sync() )
> > > > does in terms of memory barriers.
> > > >
> > > > I see that the x86/amd64 and ia64 code only does the bounce buffers.
> That is because x86 in general does not need memory barriers. ...

maybe they are not called memory barriers but for instance
how do i make sure, even on the x86, that a write to the NIC ring
is properly flushed before the write to the 'start' register occurs ?

Take for instance the following segment from

head/sys/ixgbe/ixgbe.c::ixgbe_xmit() :

        txd->read.cmd_type_len |=
            htole32(IXGBE_TXD_CMD_EOP | IXGBE_TXD_CMD_RS);
        txr->tx_avail -= nsegs;
        txr->next_avail_desc = i;

        txbuf->m_head = m_head;
        /* Swap the dma map between the first and last descriptor */
        txr->tx_buffers[first].map = txbuf->map;
        txbuf->map = map;
        bus_dmamap_sync(txr->txtag, map, BUS_DMASYNC_PREWRITE);

        /* Set the index of the descriptor that will be marked done */
        txbuf = &txr->tx_buffers[first];
        txbuf->eop_index = last;

        bus_dmamap_sync(txr->txdma.dma_tag, txr->txdma.dma_map,
         * Advance the Transmit Descriptor Tail (Tdt), this tells the
         * hardware that this frame is available to transmit.
        IXGBE_WRITE_REG(&adapter->hw, IXGBE_TDT(txr->me), i);

the descriptor is allocated without any caching constraint,
the bus_dmamap_sync() are effectively NOPs on i386 and amd64,
and IXGBE_WRITE_REG has no implicit guard. 

> We could use lfence/sfence on amd64, but on i386 not all processors support

ok then we can make it machine-specific versions... this is kernel
code so we do have a list of supported CPUs.

> those.  The broken drivers doing it by hand don't work on early i386 CPUs.
> Also, I personally don't like using membars like rmb() and wmb() by hand.
> If you are operating on normal memory I think atomic_load_acq() and
> atomic_store_rel() are better.

is it just a matter of names ?

My complaint was mostly on how many
unused parameters you need to pass to bus_space_barrier().
They make life hard for both the programmer and the
compiler, which might become unable to optimize them out.

I understand that more parameter may help parallelism,
but i wonder if it is worth the effort.


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