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Virtual Memory

If you don't feel very comfortable with the Linux Virtual Memory Management, you might want to take a look here: This article explain the general concepts underlying the way Linux deals with Virtual Memory (VM).

Page Tables

Currently, only 4k pages are supported.

PA-RISC Linux uses different page table layouts for 32-bit vs 64-bit kernels.

On 32-bit, the page table has 2 levels. We use 9 bits to index the Page Table Entry (PTE), 0 bits for the Page Middle Directory (PMD), and 11 bits to index the Page Global Directory (PGD).

On 64-bit, the page table has 3 levels. We use 9 bits to index the PTE, 11 bits to index the PMD, and 11 bits to index the PGD.

A hybrid approach is used to optimize page table lookups for processes that address <4GB of memory -- the PGD is allocated together with the first PMD for the process. The PGD/PMDs are sized so that if the Virtual Address (VA) is <4GB, the PMD can be located by doing an offset-load from the PGD, instead of an extra level of pointer dereference.

An additional trick is used to reduce the amount of memory required to store the PMD/PTE pointers in the page table. This also has the advantage of making the code paths for 32-bit and 64-bit kernels more similar because they always use pointers of the same size -- PMD/PTE pointers are always stored in a 32-bit pointer. We take advantage of the fact that in a 64-bit PMD/PTE pointer, the lower 12 bits (offset) are always zero. Normally these bits are used to store some page flags. In the case of the PMD/PTE pointers, we do not need the full set of page flags, so only 4 bits are reserved for flags. This means that we can right-shift a PMD/PTE pointer by 8 bits before storing it into the PGD/PMD. This allows us to address 40 bits (1TB) of physical space with a 32-bit pointer.

VM Initialization

DeviceInventory during bootup creates a physical memory map of the system. For each memory region, the starting physical address and the extent are saved to `pmem_ranges`.

If `CONFIG_DISCONTIGMEM` is not set, then only the first of these memory regions will be initialized, and a linear `mem_map` is used. Otherwise, if DiscontiguousMemorySupport is enabled, multiple "nodes" are created to represent each of the memory regions.

TODO: Put something here about vmalloc space is allocated on parisc?

A gateway page is also initialized during VM initialization. The page is not mapped into userspace, but instead resides in kernel space (sr2) at address 0x0. During the initialization process the page is copied from the kernel text address 'linux_gateway_page' into place at address 0x0. All references in that gateway page must be relocatable and hence PIC in some way. The page is used for raising the priority of a process during kernel entry for syscalls, light-weight-syscalls, and setting the thread register (NOTE: Technically setting the thread register should have been a light-weight-syscall but it was fixed as part of the ABI before LWS was available).

Page Fault Handling



PA-RISC is a VIPT architecture, so that would ordinarily entail a lot of cache flushing through process spaces for shared pages. However, we use an optimisation of making all user space shared pages congruent, so flushing a single one makes the cache coherent for all the others (this is also a cache usage optimisation).

So, what our flush_dcache_page() does is it selects the first user page it comes across to flush knowing that flushing this is sufficient to flush all the others.

Unfortunately, there's a catch: the page we're flushing must have been mapped into the user process (not guaranteed even if the area is in the vma list) otherwise the flush has no effect (a VIPT cache flush must know the translation of the page it's flushing), so we have to check the validity of the translation before doing the flush.

On parisc, if we try to flush a page without a translation, it's picked up by our software tlb miss handlers, which actually nullify the instruction (but since we have to flush a page as a set of non interlocking cache line flushes [about 128 of them per page with a cache width of 32]) and the tlb handler is invoked for every flush instruction (because the translation continues not to exist) it makes that flush operation extremely slow. (128 interruptions of the execution stream per flush)

So, the uses of translation_exists() are threefold

  1. Make sure we execute flush_dcache_page() correctly (rather than executing a flush that has no effect)
  2. Optimise single page flushing: don't excite the tlb miss handlers if there's no translation
  3. Optimise pte lookup (that's why translation_exists() returns the pte pointer); since we already have to walk the page tables to answer the question, the return value may as well be the pte entry or NULL rather than true or false.
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