[ECOS] eCos FP support suggestions.

Sergei Organov osv@Javad.RU
Mon Oct 11 07:58:00 GMT 1999


I already heard before from Bart about the idea to decide if thread
needs FP context by handling "FP unavailable" exception and thus
don't add additional support in the HAL interface. This approach has
its drawbacks, and I think that it should be taken only if (even
backward compatible) changes in HAL API are strictly prohibited.

I believe that it could be implemented in the way you described.
However, here are things that bother me in this approach:

1. What to do if architecture appears where "FP enable bit" just
doesn't exist and thus there is no way to get exception on first FP

2. Anyway it'd be fine to have a way to define non-FP task
explicitly (and get "FP not available" exception if FP operation is
used). It will also allow to don't have "static" FP area at the base
of the stack for such light-weight task.

3. Porting of FP support to new targets seems to be more difficult
with this approach, because all common logic (that is in turn more
complex) is to be implemented in the HAL instead of kernel.

4. Potentially time-consuming operations of handling exception and
initializing of FP context occurs at hardly predictable time moments
(when first FP instruction is executed) instead of well defined moment 
of task creation.

5. Are there any benefits of this approach besides unchanged HAL
interface? Programmer doesn't need to decide if particular task needs
FP context. What else?

Well, you asked for criticism :-) What do you think?


Nick Garnett <nickg@cygnus.co.uk> writes:
> Sergei Organov <osv@Javad.RU> writes:
> > Hello,
> > 
> > Here are my thoughts about floating point support implementation for
> > eCos. Your objections, comments and suggestions are welcome.
> > 
> > Support for three different configurations of FP context handling are
> > required:
> > 
> > 1. All tasks are floating point.
> > 2. Some tasks are floating point, immediate FP context switch.
> > 3. Some tasks are floating point, lazy (deferred) FP context switch.
> > 
> [Details snipped]
> Sergei,
> I have finally got around to taking a look at this, I've been busy on
> more urgent things for the last week or so.
> Your scheme does not correspond to the way in which I intended to
> implement FP handling. In particular, I want to keep the FP stuff
> entirely in the HAL and not make any changes to the kernel or HAL APIs
> at all, which I do not believe are necessary. We also have to make
> sure that the right things happen during interrupt and exception
> handling and for debugging.
> The options for FP support that I want to see are:
> 1. All threads are FP, with full save/restore on context switch.
> 2. Threads are non-FP until first use, then they do a full
>    save/restore each context switch.
> 3. Threads are non-FP until first use, then the FP context is
>    saved/restored lazily as necessary.
> I think these correspond to yours options.
> For all options we need to extend the HAL_SavedRegisters structure to
> contain the FP state. Although for option 3 this may consist of
> a pointer to a second structure allocated elsewhere on the stack.
> Option 1 is easily implemented by adding code to the context switch,
> interrupt and exception state save/restore code. This has already been
> implemented in the MIPS HAL.
> Option 2 requires an extra flag to be added to the HAL_SavedRegisters
> structure to indicate whether the thread has a valid FP state. This is
> set false on initialization and the FPU disabled whenever the thread
> is switched to. If the thread performs an FP operation the FP
> exception handler sets the flag true and the FPU is initialized.
> Subsequently, when the thread is switched out, the flag is checked and
> the FPU context saved. Similarly the FPU context will be restored when
> the thread is reloaded. Optimizations can be added to this to allow
> the HAL to avoid allocating the FPU save area if the thread does not
> do FP operations.
> Option 3 presents something of a problem. Notionally it is a
> development of option 2 where the actual FPU state swap is handled in
> the FP exception handler only if necessary. However, here's the
> problem: by the time we have decided to load the FPU state from the
> current thread, we will have destroyed it, since it is simply stored
> on the stack as part of the CPU state we have already loaded.
> A solution to this is to allocate a per-thread "static" FP save area
> at the base of the stack, since it must persist after the rest of the
> thread's CPU state is loaded. However, this would prevent us using FP
> in exception or interrupt routines: an unreasonable and unenforceable
> restriction (although we could make that a configuration option if the
> user is prepared to exert the correct level of self-restraint).
> A development of this idea, and probably the right way to do it, is to
> have an initial "static" save area that is used during normal thread
> switching, and to allocate a new FPU save area during exception and
> interrupt handling. These are then chained together and pointed to by
> a field in the HAL_SavedRegisters, which is used to maintain a HAL
> level pointer to the current thread's FPU save area. An additional
> pointer will then point to the save area for the current FPU contents
> owner. A thread context switch involves disabling the FPU, saving the
> current thread's FPU context pointer into the CPU save state and
> loading the pointer from the next thread. If the new thread performs
> an FPU operation, the exception handler saves the FPU context to the
> save area pointed to by the FPU owner pointer, loads the FPU context
> from the current thread's context pointer and copies it to the FPU
> context owner pointer. Exceptions and interrupts must also disable the
> FPU, and in addition will create a new FPU save area which replaces
> the current thread's save area pointer. Any FP operations will then
> cause a fresh FPU context to be created, rather than use the current
> thread's existing context. Exception or interrupt return will just
> cause the new context to be destroyed and the original current
> thread's pointer to be restored.
> The only addition we will need to the HAL API will be a new macro,
> HAL_CPU_FLUSH_CONTEXT() or something similar, to force the FPU
> contents out to the save area for the benefit of debugging.
> I intend to experimentally implement these mechanisms in the MIPS HAL,
> to check that it all works properly, although I don't know exactly
> when I will find the time to do this. In the meantime I suggest that
> you try implementing Option 1 only, which will allow you to at least
> use the FPU, although at slightly reduced performance. Once I am happy
> that I have not missed any subtleties in the MIPS HAL, you can then
> use that as a model to implement the PowerPC version. That way we will
> hopefully get a uniform implementation across all HALs.
> Suggestions, criticism and comments are of course welcome.
> -- 
> Nick Garnett           mailto:nickg@cygnus.co.uk
> Cygnus Solutions, UK   http://www.cygnus.co.uk

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