Alpha Dependencies

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The purpose of this page is to list the areas where M5 is dependent on the alpha architecture, and discuss ways to remove or quarantine the dependencies.


VPtr class

The VPtr class uses the page size for Alpha in an assert which determines whether or not to an access spans page boundaries. Other than this, this file is not alpha specific, and can be moved somewhere else. My suggestion is that it moves to sim.


It looks like the only place VPtr is currently used is in kern/linux_threadinfo.hh. Is VPtr compatible with the new memory system? --Stever 22:22, 12 February 2006 (EST)

Pseudo Instructions

The implementation of the pseudo instructions doesn't seem to be very alpha dependent, other than knowing how to get function parameters. This might be pulled into an interface called abi.hh, for instance, which knows how to speak in the appropriate architecture's ABI. The psuedo_inst.hh and can use this interface, and live outside of arch, probably in sim.


It seems like this interface already exists, for the most part, in arguments.hh.

--Gblack 13:25, 10 February 2006 (EST)

After thinking about it more, there seems to be inherent problems in implementing something like arguments.hh in a completely architecture independent way. One problem is that you can't always return the same thing for a particular argument without knowing certain things about it, like if it's a floating point value, and the particulars that are important are probably not completely consistent across architectures. Also, accessing values beyond the ones held in registers means accessing memory, and that introduces more complications. Instead, what I think should be done is to move the parameter preperation into the decoder. In other words, rather than just passing the execution context to the pseudo instruction function, the execution context and whatever paramers the function needs are passed in after being pulled from wherever, and the function can just operate as standard C++ code with normal arguments. The complication in the decoder would be minimal, and that would allow the pseudo instructions to be reused for all of the architectures.

--Gblack 18:06, 10 February 2006 (EST)

I see you appear to have implemented this already... it looks good to me. --Stever 22:09, 12 February 2006 (EST)

Misc Regs in CPU Model

There are some files in the model that access some of the miscellaneous registers by name. The problem is that misc. regs differ per architecture.

For instance, the MIPS has coprocessor0 registers which can be looked at as a version of misc. regs that need to be accessed.

Also, when we deallocate or allocate context (or even copy and restore data for syscalls) we copy some of the misc. regs by name.

To make this work for different archs. we either need to have all of these cpu files for misc. regs in ISA-specific folders or access the misc. regs by index (bounded by a size variable). Since there are only maybe 3 or 4 files I think the former (ISA-specific folders) is a better idea


Could you list which files specifically your talking about, preferably with function names or even line numbers?


The original idea was that every ISA would define its own MiscRegFile struct. Any piece of code that accesses individual regs in the struct would have to be ISA-specific. --Stever 22:13, 12 February 2006 (EST)

I'm part way through defining the MiscRegs class that we decided to use, which would have all of the misc regs in it and be ISA specific. Right now it has the FPCR, Uniq, load locked flag/addr, and the IPRs in it. It has methods readMiscReg and writeMiscReg defined on it. There are two main problems I have encountered so far.

The first is deciding where to define the enums used to index into the misc reg file. While the FPCR and Uniq registers already have a dependence tag entry in the DependenceTag enum, the IPRs are in a separate enum, and in a separate file. Because C++ doesn't let you just expand an enum, it's difficult to choose where to define the misc regs. For now I've left the definitions the same, where the FPCR, uniq regs are defined in the DependenceTags (and I also added the load locked regs), and the IPRs are defined in a separate enum. This requires the two functions to take an input of an int, not a specific enum type, which makes things a little less clear. However, for lack of a better answer, I've defaulted to leaving the definitions the same. In the future I may opt to put both the misc regs and the IPRs into one enum which is defined for non-full system in the isa_traits.hh file, and defined for full_system in isa_fullsys_traits.hh. It means that certain names will be duplicated across the files, but hopefully it doesn't happen too much and isn't changed often.

The second problem is that the current readIpr function has a reference to a Fault passed in. This is only used for two cases in readIpr: when a write-only register is accessed, and when the index doesn't match any IPR. In those cases it returns an UnimplementedOpcodeFault. However, because readIpr calls now go through the readMiscReg function, the readMiscReg function must take in a reference to a Fault. This means that code that previously accessed the FPCR or Uniq register will have to pass in a dummy Fault. Unforutnately because it's a reference, I can't set the default argument for it to NULL. While not a huge problem, it does make the code a bit messier for just two cases that only exist in full system mode. --Ktlim 16:37, 23 February 2006 (EST)

ev5 IPRs

The file arch/alpha/ev5.hh is used directly in a few places in the non-alpha portion of m5 where the functions setIpr and readIpr are defined. These files are cpu/o3/cpu.hh and cpu/o3/regfile.hh. These files shouldn't be tied to a alpha, and even more so to a specific type of alpha. I think the best solution would be to move any Ipr related functionality to an intentionally alpha specific version of the cpu, which I believe cpu/o3/alpha_cpu.[hh|cc] is for. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any place to declare the actual storage location for the IPRs other than in regfile.hh where they are currently.

To fix this, I propose that the way the CPU model is specialized is change to be based on inheritance, rather than being based on templates. That would allow an AlphaCPU (or similar) to have an IPR register file declared internally to itself. The functions which manipulate the IPR would be defined at that level as well.

--Gblack 18:37, 12 February 2006 (EST)

Is this a general problem or an O3 CPU model design issue? Is the problem with IPR storage or the function call interface to access IPRs?
The register file is going to be ISA-specific anyway (e.g., the number of regs and MiscRegFile will depend on the ISA), so I don't see how allocating storage for IPRs in regfile.hh is different. I would guess that every CPU has something along the line of IPRs even if they're called something different. Another possibility would be to allocate space for necessary IPRs inside of MiscRegFile.
We had also decided previously that the IPRs that are really internal control registers (not just scratch space) should be associated with the things they control and not with the register file. For example, accesses to TLB control IPRs should be diverted directly to the TLB, as opposed to storing the values in a central IPR reg file and forcing the TLB to look there. --Stever 22:19, 12 February 2006 (EST)

The register file will be ISA specific in certain parameters, like the number and width of registers, but the IPR registers are more fundementally specific to Alpha. By specific, I mean that all the registers are referred to by name in the regfile.hh. This, especially in its current form, shouldn't be in general purpose code. My understanding is that the IPRs are basically control registers. If that's correct (please let me know otherwise), those should be stored in the MiscRegFile with the other control registers. It's not immediately clear without looking at the code more where the readIpr and setIpr functions would go in that situation.

--Gblack 00:58, 13 February 2006 (EST)

As far as the cpu/o3/cpu.hh include of arch/alpha/ev5.hh, that's definitely in the wrong place. That was a relic of some old code I had used as a building block for full system mode. Considering that it's reading from an IPR to get the specific ITB/DTB ASN, it should probably be at the AlphaFullCPU level. I'm not too clear on what you mean by specialization through inheritance. The most derived level of CPU is the AlphaFullCPU which does have methods defined for handling the IPRs in it, although they just defer to the register file. If you wanted a separate misc reg file that's specific to each ISA, you could put it at this level, though as Steve has mentioned, we're still having discussions about where exactly to put all those other registers.
For the cpu/o3/regfile.hh include of arch/alpha/ev5.hh, I'm not sure how to handle this. The solution will be linked to where exactly we decide to place all of the registers. If we continue to have one centralized location for all IPRs, then it may make sense for the regfile (or maybe a class derived from the regfile) to store those IPRs and provide methods to read and write to them. If it's decentralized, then the control for reading and writing those registers probably needs to go to the AlphaFullCPU. Some storage may still be in the regfile.hh (if we agree that all ISAs have some sort of "MiscRegFile" and "ipr" class that can be obtained through the ISA namespace).
Not all IPRs are control registers. Some are just used to place values when faults happen, such as the virtual address register, which gets the faulting address written to it when the ITB or DTB fault. The problem is that while it's convenient to logically think of the IPRs as one big array of registers, that's not necessarily how they act or are accessed, and it creates some problems when moving over to using ExecContext as an interface and not for storing any state. --Ktlim 14:31, 13 February 2006 (EST)


arch/alpha/faults.hh and arch/alpha/ describe some types of faults which can occur, and provide a mapping to the names of the faults. This mechanism needs to be pared back. One the one hand, if it's too specific it doesn't allow for variations in faults in other architectures. On the other hand, if it's general, it can force generality on the faults in other architectures that need to be specific. For instance, there is only one entry in faults.hh for an Unimplemented Opcode fault, but in SPARC, there are 3 exceptions this could map to. These are "illegal_instruction", "unimplemented_LDD", and "unimplemented_STD". In another example, there is only 1 processor reset fault in faults.hh, but SPARC defines 4 matching exceptions, "watchdog_reset", "externally_initiated_reset", "software_initiated_reset", and "power_on_reset".

In order to address these issues, I propose that faults.hh be reduced in scope to just those exceptions which are -very- common across architectures with almost no semantic variation, namely "Machine_Check_Fault" and "No_Fault". The other faults can be enumerated internally to the architecture, which is where they almost always generated and where they are consumed. The exact mechanism this happens with needs to change as well, since enums can't be extended once they're defined. One way to do this would be to define constants inside a namespace. A problem with this approach would be that it would be difficult to assure that there were never collisions between the different places faults were defined. Another approach would be to create a Fault class which would be inherited by the more specialized Faults. A pointer to this class could be passed around by code which is unaware of the specialization while the Fault is enroute to where ever the architecture deals with it.

--Gblack 18:56, 12 February 2006 (EST)

I thought we had decided that we would have an ISA-independent base class that ISAs could derive from to define their own fault types (with associated state), and that functions would return fault object pointers, with a null pointer indicating no fault (thus eliminating the No_Fault value).
I'd still like to see some attempt to organize common fault concepts in an ISA-independent fashion; so for example we could have an ISA-independent IllegalInstruction class, but SPARC could derive from that to create the three specific subclasses we need. --Stever 22:25, 12 February 2006 (EST)

That's what I remember deciding. This is here for completeness.

--Gblack 00:59, 13 February 2006 (EST)

There were complications implementing the Fault classes as described above for various reasons including ones having to do with fault statistics and fault vectors. The currently implemented system has a set of system wide Faults which are generated by non-isa code, and a second set which are maintained by the ISA. Eventually, the Faults should be pulled out of everything but the CPU and the ISA, and be defined and maintained by the ISA. The CPU will have a set of interface functions which will return a small subset of faults for certain situations, which will allow the CPU to pass some faults directly to the ISA.

--Gblack 01:53, 16 February 2006 (EST)

ExecContext and CPU models

In various parts of the XC and the CPUs there are very Alpha-specific code segments. For example, in the ExecContext, the read and write functions will set/check the lock addr and lock flag when doing accesses in full system mode. The SimpleCPU has interrupt code for Alpha (and probably more specifically the ev5) in its tick() function. What was our plan for handling these?

In the CPU model I had planned to abstract away the functions that were specific to Alpha into the AlphaISA itself. In FastCPU (mostly a clone of SimpleCPU), the interrupt code that existed in SimpleCPU is replaced by a call to TheISA::checkInterrupts(this). The other two places that were mostly ISA specific were clearing the zero registers, and calling the proper trap function, both of which are abstracted away to the ISA.

Should we try something similar for ExecContext? It might be somewhat more difficult because the code in ExecContext has control statements in it, such as "return NoFault". We'd have to check for specific return values from the call to the ISA, and handle them appropriately, which somewhat defeats the idea of removing the ISA dependences. Perhaps we'll just punt for now and leave it as it is, where the code is guarded by a #if defined(TARGET_ALPHA).

Also, there are ISA specific structures within both the XC and the CPUs. There are AlphaITB and DTB pointers in both. I think we agreed upon (or maybe just Nate suggested) having some sort of semi-opaque ISA object that holds onto ISA specific objects such as the Alpha ITB and DTB. It could live in the CPU and anything that needs it could have a pointer to it. We'd have to define a specific interface for it so that the ITB and DTB can be used.

Object Loader flexibility

Right now, the object loader expects that all the binaries it reads will be for Alpha, and determines what architecture to use based on the type of file, ie. ecoff is Tru64, elf is Linux, and aout is PAL code. Solaris supports all three formats, and Linux supports at least elf and aout. There is also obviously a need to load binaries for other architectures as well. What I think would be a good solution would be for the loader to determine from the binary what sort of file it is, ie what architecture it wants to run on and what os it's for. If those things exist and work in that combination, m5 reports what it will use and starts the program appropriately. If that combination isn't supported, then m5 can panic. I'm most familiar with elf, and for elf it would be relatively easy to determine what the requirements of the binary are. Is it harder for the other formats? Also, how could we determine if a particular combination of OS and architecture will work? We'll need to do that regardless if we want to load object files safely.

--Gblack 04:02, 1 March 2006 (EST)

The framework is already there for deriving both the architecture and the OS from the binary: there are enums in ObjectFile to report both of these. It doesn't (quite) assume that all the binaries it sees are Alpha; that's just the only one it recognizes right now :-). The purpose of the tryFile() method is to see if the object is of the given type, and if so, create an ObjectFile object that knows the appropriate ISA and OS it's for.
Note that the ecoff tryFile() only reports Tru64 if it's an Alpha binary, otherwise it gives up. So a SPARC Solaris ecoff file would not be a problem, particularly if that's the only SPARC ecoff platform we know of. Similarly for elf; there's a check in there for the Alpha but Ali commented it out because it's "not official". I don't know if he found something that uses a different machine code or not. Ali?
Right now m5 does auto-detect the OS and generate the correct syscall emulation object based on the executable (see LiveProcess::create() in sim/ This is not hard since the executable is a parameter to the Process object which is what determines the syscall emulation. This would also be the right place to detect an unsupported ISA/OS combination (assuming there are combinations that the loader recognizes but we don't support).
I had thought about automatically generating the correct CPU ISA based on the binary as well; I agree that would be cool. It would be significantly harder though since we would have to defer creating the CPU object until it knows what binary it will be running. This dependence doesn't fit at all in our current initialization scheme, which assumes that we can create all the objects in one pass and then make another pass if necessary to resolve init-time dependences among objects. That is, having the *creation* of one object (i.e., the CPU) depend on some post-creation initialization of another object (the Process object) just doesn't fit the mold. So even though it would be cool, I think in the short term anyway we should rely on users to specify AlphaCPU or SparcCPU or MipsCPU in their config file, and then just generate an error if they mess up. The number of people that will be doing cross-ISA experiments is probably vanishingly small anyway. --Stever 08:22, 1 March 2006 (EST)
From what I've seen so far, the changes to the ELF loader code have been very small. The only things necessary were adding a Mips 'enum value' in object_file.hh, removing the panic that m5 throws when it sees a 32-bit ELF in the file, and finally calling the ElfObject constructor with the enum value I specified earlier. (This is also assuming one has already made edits so that you load a <your arch here>LinuxProcess too). The GELF library looks to be a real lifesaver since it handles both 32 & 64-bit formats. The ELF file seems to load correctly, so I'm wondering am I overlooking something I need to change?
You need to do something in sim/ to create a MipsLinuxProcess once you've detected that it's a MIPS binary (along with whatever it takes to set up the MipsLinuxProcess object).
I've created a new bridging header called "process.hh" which brings in all the different types of processes for a particular architecture. This is because not every OS is available for every ISA, so they can't invidividually be bridging, and including each individaully all the time brings in alot of other ISA specific files. In each process.hh, there is also a "createProcess" function, which is used to generate the appropriate process object from an object file or to panic if the object file doesn't fit with the ISA.
--Gblack 22:08, 2 March 2006 (EST)
A problem which has come up with the libelf as distributed with m5 is that it is has different constants defined than the one installed locally on my computers. The local version is used first, which causes compilation errors when certain constants are used, specifically the ones I need for 64 bit/v9 SPARC. Several possible solutions are to update the version used in m5 so that it is in line with the local version, remove the version in m5 and use only the local version, or force m5 to use only it's own internal version. Some problems with using the internal version only have been that gcc, despite what seems to be in the documentation, is not allowing m5 to direct it to find it's internal version first. It is also not possible to force the correct version by changing the include directives or their paths because there are includes inside the file which use <>s and the normal paths. Preprocessing the files so that they don't have includes also doesn't work, because the macros which define the constants it uses go away, and the issue of getting m5 to find the correct header files during this step is the same as in the original.
--Gblack 22:08, 2 March 2006 (EST)
gcc needs to have both the path to the libelf directory, and that path including the libelf directory, indicated with the -I option to find the m5 version of libelf always. Also, in libelf, the line "#undef __LIBELF_HEADER_ELF_H" in lib/ needs to be commented out to prevent libelf from including the system header elf.h, which is provided with glibc, and to instead use its internal elf_repl.h. Making these changes, as well as updating libelf to have a complete list of constants, has cleared up the current problems with that library and its headers.
--Gblack 02:04, 4 March 2006 (EST)