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Re: [PATCH 0/5] i386: Optimize for Jump Conditional Code Erratum

On 12/3/19 9:45 PM, Fangrui Song wrote:
> On 2019-12-03, Jeff Law wrote:
>> On 12/3/19 1:19 PM, H.J. Lu wrote:
>>>> 4. Shall we default to -mbranches-within-32B-boundaries if the
>>>> specified
>>>>    -march= or -mtune= may be affected by the erratum?
>>> No. It’s a performance mitigation for the microcode update not a
>>> functional fix. While it can mitigate the potential performance effect
>>> in most cases as we observed, it increases the code size and may harm
>>> the performance in some cases. It may also impact the performance of
>>> those architectures which are not affected by this JCC erratum.
>>> Software mitigation cannot be applied in some scenarios where
>>> application behavior is dependent on exact code size. In other words,
>>> the inserted padding (prefix, nop) may break the assumption of code
>>> size that the programmer has made.  We have observed such assumptions
>>> in the compilation of the Linux kernel.
> Padding instructions with prefixes instead of inserting multi-byte NOPs
> may be a generally-useful feature. This may be very useful if it can be
> applied at basic-block level, especially for loops. It will be very nice
> if profile guided optimizations can insert some directives to guide the
> prefix placement in appropriate positions. This part should probably be
> made a bit more general so that it can be reused by performance
> improvement changes.
>> ISTM those cases (like the kernel startup code) could/should opt-opt,
>> possibly at the file level since IIRC it's just one assembly file where
>> the sizes of jumps are supposed to be fixed.
> Inserting prefixes at arbitrary positions can break assembly like:
> .if . - label == 4
> Such constructs are very rare. I've checked Linux kernel, there are
> indeed a few tricky constructs, only one instance is relevant, though:
Again, I consider this a niche case and if the option were turned on by
deafult, the kernel can either opt-out or fix its code to handle the new
sequences.  Yea, it happens and it's a factor in the overall decision
making process, but it's not a major factor in my mind.

>>> Therefore we do not enable it by default. The user should evaluate its
>>> impact and make their own determination as to whether to enable the
>>> software mitigation  knowing that when this option is enabled, the
>>> performance impact may vary case-by-case.
>> The problem with not enabling it by default is a distro would have to
>> inject the flag into their builds.  It's not uncommon for injection
>> mechanisms to not work on packages like gcc, glibc, etc.
> The code size increase (3-4%) is large. In gcc, if an optimization can
> improve performance by a% at the cost of >a% code size increase, is it
> considered as a good trade-off for -O2? -O1? -Os?
It's far from that simple from a distro standpoint.  WHen I look at
everything we have to balance I can argue for both choices -- there
isn't a clear winner.

FWIW, I'd give a 3-4% codesize regression to restore a comparable
performance regression.  But that's just where I land.  Others will
certainly have a differing opinion here.

> The performance decrease may not even be perceived for lots of software
> in a distribution. Opt-in may be a good first choice when we still lack
> statistics/feedback from users.
> If we have profile information, we can teach GCC to insert some
> directives at basic-block/function/file level to hint that jump
> instructions in some code sequences need more care.
I've actually already suggested this in the thread.


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