Gold Linker Patch: Introduce the "retpoline" x86 mitigation technique for variant #2 of the speculative execution vulnerabilities disclosed today, specifically identified by CVE-2017-5715 and in some places called "spectre".

Sriraman Tallam via binutils
Mon Jan 8 21:09:00 GMT 2018

On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 12:22 PM, H.J. Lu <> wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 12:17 PM, Sriraman Tallam via binutils
> <> wrote:
>> On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 11:01 AM, Florian Weimer <> wrote:
>>> On 01/08/2018 07:51 PM, Rui Ueyama wrote:
>>>> A drawback of using BIND_NOW is that an application that has a PLT entry
>>>> that cannot be resolved but not used fails to start with that option.
>>> That can be a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective.  With more
>>> and more use of symbol versioning, the point is increasingly moot because
>>> the set of symbol versions is not checked lazily.
>> Ok, my attempt to summarize the discussions around this patch:
>> a)  We don't need this patch.
>>       * We could deploy fno-plt and now binding and remove PLTs
>> altogether. We have to fix correctness issues related to these, like
>> the one Rui pointed out.
> What correctness issue?

If a lazy bound symbol cannot be resolved and is not resolved at
run-time, now binding will expose the issue.

>>       * One other pain point is we do have internally is we use a
>> configuration for tests where we build a number of shared objects and
>> keep the main binary pretty thin.  We have explicitly disabled now
>> binding for this due to performance reasons, huge increase in the
>> number of dynamic relocations putting unacceptable overheads on our
>> distributed build system.  We need to find a solution here.
> Have you measured performance impact of -fno-plt?

I have conducted some experiments with fno-plt for binaries that
mostly statically linked with some hot calls to libc.  fno-plt did
gives us 0.5 %- 1% improvements here and we have plans to turn this on
for performance sensitive binaries.  fno-plt seems to help in reducing
 iTLB misses when used in conjunction with kernel huge pages.

>>       * The compiler is eliminating indirect branches and calls
>> anyway, might as well do it with fno-plt also.  With
>> -mindirect-branch=think this might also be unnecessary but LLVM
>> atleast does not support this yet.
> Shouldn't LLVM be fixed?

Yes,  I can take a look at fixing LLVM fo this.

>>       * We still have to find a solution to avoid PLTs for shared
>> objects, needs re-building and fixing performance issues.
>>       * We could use static linking but that is not an immediate solution.
>> b) We have this patch in the linker:
>>      * If we want to continue to use lazy binding or just keep PLTs as
>> it is and take the penalty for the project, this is easy.
>>      * My testing with retpoline for large programs shows this is
>> pretty straightforward to deploy, I did not run into any correctness
>> issues that requires large-scale fixing of builds.
>>      * All other problems from a) exist. Shared libraries still need
>> to be fixed,  compiler needs to be fixed to avoid indirect calls, etc.
>>> Thanks,
>>> Florian
> --
> H.J.

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