Commit 9762f12d authored by Dave Martin's avatar Dave Martin Committed by Nicolas Pitre

ARM: mcpm: Add baremetal voting mutexes

This patch adds a simple low-level voting mutex implementation
to be used to arbitrate during first man selection when no load/store
exclusive instructions are usable.

For want of a better name, these are called "vlocks".  (I was
tempted to call them ballot locks, but "block" is way too confusing
an abbreviation...)

There is no function to wait for the lock to be released, and no
vlock_lock() function since we don't need these at the moment.
These could straightforwardly be added if vlocks get used for other

For architectural correctness even Strongly-Ordered memory accesses
require barriers in order to guarantee that multiple CPUs have a
coherent view of the ordering of memory accesses.  Whether or not
this matters depends on hardware implementation details of the
memory system.  Since the purpose of this code is to provide a clean,
generic locking mechanism with no platform-specific dependencies the
barriers should be present to avoid unpleasant surprises on future


  * When taking the lock, we don't care about implicit background
    memory operations and other signalling which may be pending,
    because those are not part of the critical section anyway.

    A DMB is sufficient to ensure correctly observed ordering if
    the explicit memory accesses in vlock_trylock.

  * No barrier is required after checking the election result,
    because the result is determined by the store to
    VLOCK_OWNER_OFFSET and is already globally observed due to the
    barriers in voting_end.  This means that global agreement on
    the winner is guaranteed, even before the winner is known
Signed-off-by: default avatarDave Martin <>
Signed-off-by: default avatarNicolas Pitre <>
Reviewed-by: default avatarSantosh Shilimkar <>
Reviewed-by: default avatarWill Deacon <>
parent 7fe31d28
vlocks for Bare-Metal Mutual Exclusion
Voting Locks, or "vlocks" provide a simple low-level mutual exclusion
mechanism, with reasonable but minimal requirements on the memory
These are intended to be used to coordinate critical activity among CPUs
which are otherwise non-coherent, in situations where the hardware
provides no other mechanism to support this and ordinary spinlocks
cannot be used.
vlocks make use of the atomicity provided by the memory system for
writes to a single memory location. To arbitrate, every CPU "votes for
itself", by storing a unique number to a common memory location. The
final value seen in that memory location when all the votes have been
cast identifies the winner.
In order to make sure that the election produces an unambiguous result
in finite time, a CPU will only enter the election in the first place if
no winner has been chosen and the election does not appear to have
started yet.
The easiest way to explain the vlocks algorithm is with some pseudo-code:
int currently_voting[NR_CPUS] = { 0, };
int last_vote = -1; /* no votes yet */
bool vlock_trylock(int this_cpu)
/* signal our desire to vote */
currently_voting[this_cpu] = 1;
if (last_vote != -1) {
/* someone already volunteered himself */
currently_voting[this_cpu] = 0;
return false; /* not ourself */
/* let's suggest ourself */
last_vote = this_cpu;
currently_voting[this_cpu] = 0;
/* then wait until everyone else is done voting */
for_each_cpu(i) {
while (currently_voting[i] != 0)
/* wait */;
/* result */
if (last_vote == this_cpu)
return true; /* we won */
return false;
bool vlock_unlock(void)
last_vote = -1;
The currently_voting[] array provides a way for the CPUs to determine
whether an election is in progress, and plays a role analogous to the
"entering" array in Lamport's bakery algorithm [1].
However, once the election has started, the underlying memory system
atomicity is used to pick the winner. This avoids the need for a static
priority rule to act as a tie-breaker, or any counters which could
As long as the last_vote variable is globally visible to all CPUs, it
will contain only one value that won't change once every CPU has cleared
its currently_voting flag.
Features and limitations
* vlocks are not intended to be fair. In the contended case, it is the
_last_ CPU which attempts to get the lock which will be most likely
to win.
vlocks are therefore best suited to situations where it is necessary
to pick a unique winner, but it does not matter which CPU actually
* Like other similar mechanisms, vlocks will not scale well to a large
number of CPUs.
vlocks can be cascaded in a voting hierarchy to permit better scaling
if necessary, as in the following hypothetical example for 4096 CPUs:
/* first level: local election */
my_town = towns[(this_cpu >> 4) & 0xf];
I_won = vlock_trylock(my_town, this_cpu & 0xf);
if (I_won) {
/* we won the town election, let's go for the state */
my_state = states[(this_cpu >> 8) & 0xf];
I_won = vlock_lock(my_state, this_cpu & 0xf));
if (I_won) {
/* and so on */
I_won = vlock_lock(the_whole_country, this_cpu & 0xf];
if (I_won) {
/* ... */
ARM implementation
The current ARM implementation [2] contains some optimisations beyond
the basic algorithm:
* By packing the members of the currently_voting array close together,
we can read the whole array in one transaction (providing the number
of CPUs potentially contending the lock is small enough). This
reduces the number of round-trips required to external memory.
In the ARM implementation, this means that we can use a single load
and comparison:
LDR Rt, [Rn]
CMP Rt, #0 place of code equivalent to:
LDRB Rt, [Rn]
CMP Rt, #0
LDRBEQ Rt, [Rn, #1]
CMPEQ Rt, #0
LDRBEQ Rt, [Rn, #2]
CMPEQ Rt, #0
LDRBEQ Rt, [Rn, #3]
CMPEQ Rt, #0
This cuts down on the fast-path latency, as well as potentially
reducing bus contention in contended cases.
The optimisation relies on the fact that the ARM memory system
guarantees coherency between overlapping memory accesses of
different sizes, similarly to many other architectures. Note that
we do not care which element of currently_voting appears in which
bits of Rt, so there is no need to worry about endianness in this
If there are too many CPUs to read the currently_voting array in
one transaction then multiple transations are still required. The
implementation uses a simple loop of word-sized loads for this
case. The number of transactions is still fewer than would be
required if bytes were loaded individually.
In principle, we could aggregate further by using LDRD or LDM, but
to keep the code simple this was not attempted in the initial
* vlocks are currently only used to coordinate between CPUs which are
unable to enable their caches yet. This means that the
implementation removes many of the barriers which would be required
when executing the algorithm in cached memory.
packing of the currently_voting array does not work with cached
memory unless all CPUs contending the lock are cache-coherent, due
to cache writebacks from one CPU clobbering values written by other
CPUs. (Though if all the CPUs are cache-coherent, you should be
probably be using proper spinlocks instead anyway).
* The "no votes yet" value used for the last_vote variable is 0 (not
-1 as in the pseudocode). This allows statically-allocated vlocks
to be implicitly initialised to an unlocked state simply by putting
them in .bss.
An offset is added to each CPU's ID for the purpose of setting this
variable, so that no CPU uses the value 0 for its ID.
Originally created and documented by Dave Martin for Linaro Limited, for
use in ARM-based big.LITTLE platforms, with review and input gratefully
received from Nicolas Pitre and Achin Gupta. Thanks to Nicolas for
grabbing most of this text out of the relevant mail thread and writing
up the pseudocode.
Copyright (C) 2012-2013 Linaro Limited
Distributed under the terms of Version 2 of the GNU General Public
License, as defined in linux/COPYING.
[1] Lamport, L. "A New Solution of Dijkstra's Concurrent Programming
Problem", Communications of the ACM 17, 8 (August 1974), 453-455.
[2] linux/arch/arm/common/vlock.S,
* vlock.S - simple voting lock implementation for ARM
* Created by: Dave Martin, 2012-08-16
* Copyright: (C) 2012-2013 Linaro Limited
* This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
* it under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2 as
* published by the Free Software Foundation.
* This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
* but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
* GNU General Public License for more details.
* This algorithm is described in more detail in
* Documentation/arm/vlocks.txt.
#include <linux/linkage.h>
#include "vlock.h"
/* Select different code if voting flags can fit in a single word. */
#define FEW(x...)
#define MANY(x...) x
#define FEW(x...) x
#define MANY(x...)
@ voting lock for first-man coordination
.macro voting_begin rbase:req, rcpu:req, rscratch:req
mov \rscratch, #1
strb \rscratch, [\rbase, \rcpu]
.macro voting_end rbase:req, rcpu:req, rscratch:req
mov \rscratch, #0
strb \rscratch, [\rbase, \rcpu]
* The vlock structure must reside in Strongly-Ordered or Device memory.
* This implementation deliberately eliminates most of the barriers which
* would be required for other memory types, and assumes that independent
* writes to neighbouring locations within a cacheline do not interfere
* with one another.
@ r0: lock structure base
@ r1: CPU ID (0-based index within cluster)
voting_begin r0, r1, r2
ldrb r2, [r0, #VLOCK_OWNER_OFFSET] @ check whether lock is held
bne trylock_fail @ fail if so
@ Control dependency implies strb not observable before previous ldrb.
strb r1, [r0, #VLOCK_OWNER_OFFSET] @ submit my vote
voting_end r0, r1, r2 @ implies DMB
@ Wait for the current round of voting to finish:
MANY( ldr r2, [r0, r3] )
FEW( ldr r2, [r0, #VLOCK_VOTING_OFFSET] )
cmp r2, #0
bne 0b
MANY( add r3, r3, #4 )
MANY( bne 0b )
@ Check who won:
ldrb r2, [r0, #VLOCK_OWNER_OFFSET]
eor r0, r1, r2 @ zero if I won, else nonzero
bx lr
voting_end r0, r1, r2
mov r0, #1 @ nonzero indicates that I lost
bx lr
@ r0: lock structure base
strb r1, [r0, #VLOCK_OWNER_OFFSET]
bx lr
* vlock.h - simple voting lock implementation
* Created by: Dave Martin, 2012-08-16
* Copyright: (C) 2012-2013 Linaro Limited
* This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
* it under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2 as
* published by the Free Software Foundation.
* This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
* but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
* GNU General Public License for more details.
#ifndef __VLOCK_H
#define __VLOCK_H
#include <asm/mcpm.h>
/* Offsets and sizes are rounded to a word (4 bytes) */
#endif /* ! __VLOCK_H */
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