New .nops directive, to aid Linux alternatives patching?

Andrew Cooper andrew.cooper3@citrix.com
Fri Feb 9 13:29:00 GMT 2018


On 09/02/18 11:55, H.J. Lu wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 9, 2018 at 3:35 AM, Andrew Cooper <andrew.cooper3@citrix.com> wrote:
>> On 09/02/18 02:22, H.J. Lu wrote:
>>> On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 5:14 PM, H.J. Lu <hjl.tools@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 4:45 PM, Andrew Cooper <andrew.cooper3@citrix.com> wrote:
>>>>> On 09/02/2018 00:24, H.J. Lu wrote:
>>>>>> On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 3:47 PM, Andrew Cooper <andrew.cooper3@citrix.com> wrote:
>>>>>>> On 08/02/2018 20:36, H.J. Lu wrote:
>>>>>>>> On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 12:33 PM, Andrew Cooper
>>>>>>>> <andrew.cooper3@citrix.com> wrote:
>>>>>>>>> On 08/02/2018 20:28, H.J. Lu wrote:
>>>>>>>>>> On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 12:27 PM, H.J. Lu <hjl.tools@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>> On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 12:18 PM, Andrew Cooper
>>>>>>>>>>> <andrew.cooper3@citrix.com> wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>>> On 08/02/2018 20:10, H.J. Lu wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>>>> On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 11:26 AM, Andrew Cooper
>>>>>>>>>>>>> <andrew.cooper3@citrix.com> 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.
>>>>
>>> Or
>>>
>>> .nop SIZE, JUMP_SIZE
>>>
>>> If SIZE < JUMP_SIZE then
>>>   SIZE of nops.
>>> else
>>>   SIZE of jmp + nops.
>>> fi
>> I'm still not sure why you want the jump functionality in the first
>> place, but yes - this latest option would work.
>>
>> FWIW, jumping over code with alternatives is typically done like:
>>
>> ALTERNATIVE "jmp .L\@_skip", "", FEATURE_X
>> ...
>> .L\@_skip:
>>
>> At which point it is only the two or 5 byte jmp which is being
>> dynamically modified.  The converse case is where we begin with 2 or 5
>> bytes of nops, and dynamically insert the jmp.
>>
>> If we're in the line for other related feature requests, how about being
>> able to optionally specify the maximum length of individual nops?  e.g.
>>
>> .nop SIZE [, MAX_NOP = 9 [, JUMP_SIZE = -1]]
> OK, let go with
>
>  .nop SIZE [, MAX_NOP = 9]
>
> It is easier to implement with 2 arguments.   MAX_NOP must be a constant.

Sounds good to me.

~Andrew



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