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Sequence counters and sequential locks
Sequence counters are a reader-writer consistency mechanism with
lockless readers (read-only retry loops), and no writer starvation. They
are used for data that's rarely written to (e.g. system time), where the
reader wants a consistent set of information and is willing to retry if
that information changes.
A data set is consistent when the sequence count at the beginning of the
read side critical section is even and the same sequence count value is
read again at the end of the critical section. The data in the set must
be copied out inside the read side critical section. If the sequence
count has changed between the start and the end of the critical section,
the reader must retry.
Writers increment the sequence count at the start and the end of their
critical section. After starting the critical section the sequence count
is odd and indicates to the readers that an update is in progress. At
the end of the write side critical section the sequence count becomes
even again which lets readers make progress.
A sequence counter write side critical section must never be preempted
or interrupted by read side sections. Otherwise the reader will spin for
the entire scheduler tick due to the odd sequence count value and the
interrupted writer. If that reader belongs to a real-time scheduling
class, it can spin forever and the kernel will livelock.
This mechanism cannot be used if the protected data contains pointers,
as the writer can invalidate a pointer that the reader is following.
.. _seqcount_t:
Sequence counters (``seqcount_t``)
This is the the raw counting mechanism, which does not protect against
multiple writers. Write side critical sections must thus be serialized
by an external lock.
If the write serialization primitive is not implicitly disabling
preemption, preemption must be explicitly disabled before entering the
write side section. If the read section can be invoked from hardirq or
softirq contexts, interrupts or bottom halves must also be respectively
disabled before entering the write section.
If it's desired to automatically handle the sequence counter
requirements of writer serialization and non-preemptibility, use
:ref:`seqlock_t` instead.
/* dynamic */
seqcount_t foo_seqcount;
/* static */
static seqcount_t foo_seqcount = SEQCNT_ZERO(foo_seqcount);
/* C99 struct init */
struct {
.seq = SEQCNT_ZERO(foo.seq),
} foo;
Write path::
/* Serialized context with disabled preemption */
/* ... [[write-side critical section]] ... */
Read path::
do {
seq = read_seqcount_begin(&foo_seqcount);
/* ... [[read-side critical section]] ... */
} while (read_seqcount_retry(&foo_seqcount, seq));
.. _seqcount_locktype_t:
Sequence counters with associated locks (``seqcount_LOCKTYPE_t``)
As discussed at :ref:`seqcount_t`, sequence count write side critical
sections must be serialized and non-preemptible. This variant of
sequence counters associate the lock used for writer serialization at
initialization time, which enables lockdep to validate that the write
side critical sections are properly serialized.
This lock association is a NOOP if lockdep is disabled and has neither
storage nor runtime overhead. If lockdep is enabled, the lock pointer is
stored in struct seqcount and lockdep's "lock is held" assertions are
injected at the beginning of the write side critical section to validate
that it is properly protected.
For lock types which do not implicitly disable preemption, preemption
protection is enforced in the write side function.
The following sequence counters with associated locks are defined:
- ``seqcount_spinlock_t``
- ``seqcount_raw_spinlock_t``
- ``seqcount_rwlock_t``
- ``seqcount_mutex_t``
- ``seqcount_ww_mutex_t``
The plain seqcount read and write APIs branch out to the specific
seqcount_LOCKTYPE_t implementation at compile-time. This avoids kernel
API explosion per each new seqcount LOCKTYPE.
Initialization (replace "LOCKTYPE" with one of the supported locks)::
/* dynamic */
seqcount_LOCKTYPE_t foo_seqcount;
seqcount_LOCKTYPE_init(&foo_seqcount, &lock);
/* static */
static seqcount_LOCKTYPE_t foo_seqcount =
SEQCNT_LOCKTYPE_ZERO(foo_seqcount, &lock);
/* C99 struct init */
struct {
.seq = SEQCNT_LOCKTYPE_ZERO(foo.seq, &lock),
} foo;
Write path: same as in :ref:`seqcount_t`, while running from a context
with the associated LOCKTYPE lock acquired.
Read path: same as in :ref:`seqcount_t`.
.. _seqcount_latch_t:
Latch sequence counters (``seqcount_latch_t``)
Latch sequence counters are a multiversion concurrency control mechanism
where the embedded seqcount_t counter even/odd value is used to switch
between two copies of protected data. This allows the sequence counter
read path to safely interrupt its own write side critical section.
Use seqcount_latch_t when the write side sections cannot be protected
from interruption by readers. This is typically the case when the read
side can be invoked from NMI handlers.
Check `raw_write_seqcount_latch()` for more information.
.. _seqlock_t:
Sequential locks (``seqlock_t``)
This contains the :ref:`seqcount_t` mechanism earlier discussed, plus an
embedded spinlock for writer serialization and non-preemptibility.
If the read side section can be invoked from hardirq or softirq context,
use the write side function variants which disable interrupts or bottom
halves respectively.
/* dynamic */
seqlock_t foo_seqlock;
/* static */
static DEFINE_SEQLOCK(foo_seqlock);
/* C99 struct init */
struct {
.seql = __SEQLOCK_UNLOCKED(foo.seql)
} foo;
Write path::
/* ... [[write-side critical section]] ... */
Read path, three categories:
1. Normal Sequence readers which never block a writer but they must
retry if a writer is in progress by detecting change in the sequence
number. Writers do not wait for a sequence reader::
do {
seq = read_seqbegin(&foo_seqlock);
/* ... [[read-side critical section]] ... */
} while (read_seqretry(&foo_seqlock, seq));
2. Locking readers which will wait if a writer or another locking reader
is in progress. A locking reader in progress will also block a writer
from entering its critical section. This read lock is
exclusive. Unlike rwlock_t, only one locking reader can acquire it::
/* ... [[read-side critical section]] ... */
3. Conditional lockless reader (as in 1), or locking reader (as in 2),
according to a passed marker. This is used to avoid lockless readers
starvation (too much retry loops) in case of a sharp spike in write
activity. First, a lockless read is tried (even marker passed). If
that trial fails (odd sequence counter is returned, which is used as
the next iteration marker), the lockless read is transformed to a
full locking read and no retry loop is necessary::
/* marker; even initialization */
int seq = 0;
do {
read_seqbegin_or_lock(&foo_seqlock, &seq);
/* ... [[read-side critical section]] ... */
} while (need_seqretry(&foo_seqlock, seq));
done_seqretry(&foo_seqlock, seq);
API documentation
.. kernel-doc:: include/linux/seqlock.h