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Re: New .nops directive, to aid Linux alternatives patching?

On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 5:14 PM, H.J. Lu <> wrote:
> On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 4:45 PM, Andrew Cooper <> wrote:
>> On 09/02/2018 00:24, H.J. Lu wrote:
>>> On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 3:47 PM, Andrew Cooper <> wrote:
>>>> On 08/02/2018 20:36, H.J. Lu wrote:
>>>>> On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 12:33 PM, Andrew Cooper
>>>>> <> wrote:
>>>>>> On 08/02/2018 20:28, H.J. Lu wrote:
>>>>>>> On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 12:27 PM, H.J. Lu <> wrote:
>>>>>>>> On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 12:18 PM, Andrew Cooper
>>>>>>>> <> wrote:
>>>>>>>>> On 08/02/2018 20:10, H.J. Lu wrote:
>>>>>>>>>> On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 11:26 AM, Andrew Cooper
>>>>>>>>>> <> wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>> Hello,
>>>>>>>>>>> I realise this is a little bit niche, but how feasible would it be to
>>>>>>>>>>> introduce a new .nops directive which takes a size parameter, and
>>>>>>>>>>> outputs long nops covering the number of specified bytes?
>>>>>>>>>> Sounds to me you want a pseudo NOP instruction:
>>>>>>>>>> pseudo-NOP N
>>>>>>>>>> which generates a long NOP with N byte.  Is that correct.  If yes,
>>>>>>>>>> what is the range of N?
>>>>>>>>> Currently 255 based on other implementation limits, and I expect that
>>>>>>>>> ought to be long enough for anyone.  There is one existing user for
>>>>>>>>> N=43, and I expect that to grow a bit.
>>>>>>>>> The real answer properly depends at what point it is more efficient to
>>>>>>>>> jmp rather than wasting decode bandwidth decoding nops, and I don't know
>>>>>>>>> the answer, but expect that it isn't larger than 255.
>>>>>>>> How about
>>>>>>>> {nop} N
>>>>>>>> If N is less than 15 bytes, it generates a long nop.   Otherwise, we use a jump
>>>>>>>> instruction over nops.  Does it work for you?
>>>>>>> N will be limited to 255.
>>>>>> Do you mean up to 255 bytes of adjacent long nops, or still a jump if
>>>>>> over 15 bytes?  For alternatives in the range of 15-30, a jmp is almost
>>>>>> certainly slower than executing through the nops.  The ORM isn't clear
>>>>>> where the split lies, and I expect it is very uarch specific.
>>>>> How about this
>>>>> {nop} N, L
>>>>> {nop} N
>>>>> N is < =255. If L is missing, L is 15.
>>>>> If N < L then
>>>>>   Long NOPs up to N bytes
>>>>> else
>>>>>   jmp + long nops up to N bytes.
>>>>> fi
>>>> I'm afraid that I don't think that will be very helpful in that form.
>>>> Are there technical reasons why you don't want to emit more than a
>>>> single 15byte long nop?
>>> Doesn't
>>> {nop} 28, 40
>>> generate 2 x 14-byte nops?
>> By the above logic, yes.  I still don't see the value in the L
>> parameter, because I don't expect an average programmer to know how to
>> choose it sensibly.  Then again, a compiler generating code for a
>> specified uarch probably could have some idea of what value to feed in.
>> If the semantics were a little more like:
>> {nop} N => N bytes of nops with no jumps
>> {nop} N, L => as above
>> Then this might be more useful.
>> I expect N will typically be an expression rather than an absolute
>> number, because the usecase I've proposed is for filling in a specific,
>> calculated number of bytes.  (In particular, what commonly happens is
>> that memory references in alternatives are the thing which cause the
>> exact length to fluctuate.)  When there is a sensible uarch value for L,
>> that can be fed in, but shouldn't be mandatory.  In particular, if it
>> unknown, 15 is almost certainly the wrong default for it.
> So, you want
> .nop SIZE
> and
> .jump SIZE
> which are similar to '.skip SIZE , FILL'.  But they fill SIZE with nops or
> jmp + nops.



  SIZE of nops.
  SIZE of jmp + nops.


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