[dm-devel] workqueues and percpu (was: [PATCH] dm: remake of the verity target)

Andrew Morton akpm at linux-foundation.org
Thu Mar 8 22:39:09 UTC 2012

On Thu, 8 Mar 2012 17:21:53 -0500 
Mikulas Patocka <mpatocka at redhat.com> wrote:

> On Tue, 6 Mar 2012, Mandeep Singh Baines wrote:
> > You are
> > allocated a complete shash_desc per I/O. We only allocate one per CPU.
> I looked at it --- and using percpu variables in workqueues isn't safe 
> because the workqueue can change CPU if the CPU is hot-unplugged.
> dm-crypt has the same bug --- it also uses workqueue with per-cpu 
> variables and assumes that the CPU doesn't change for a single work item.
> This program shows that work executed in a workqueue can be switched to a 
> different CPU.
> I'm wondering how much other kernel code assumes that workqueues are bound 
> to a specific CPU, which isn't true if we unplug that CPU.


We really don't want to have to avoid using workqueues because of some
daft issue with CPU hot-unplug.  And yes, there are assumptions in various
work handlers that they will be pinned to a single CPU.  Finding and fixing
those assumptions would be painful.

Heck, even debug_smp_processor_id() can be wrong in the presence of the
cpu-unplug thing.

I'm not sure what we can do about it really, apart from blocking unplug
until all the target CPU's workqueues have been cleared.  And/or refusing
to unplug a CPU until all pinned-to-that-cpu kernel threads have been
shut down or pinned elsewhere (which is the same thing, only more

Tejun, is this new behaviour?  I do recall that a long time ago we
wrestled with unplug-vs-worker-threads and I ended up OK with the
result, but I forget what it was.  IIRC Rusty was involved.

That being said, I don't think it's worth compromising the DM code
because of this workqueue wart: lots of other code has the same wart,
and we should find a centralised fix for it.

> /*
>  * A proof of concept that a work item executed on a workqueue may change CPU
>  * when CPU hot-unplugging is used.
>  * Compile this as a module and run:
>  * insmod test.ko; sleep 1; echo 0 >/sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/online
>  * You see that the work item starts executing on CPU 1 and ends up executing
>  * on different CPU, usually 0.
>  */
> #include <linux/module.h>
> #include <linux/delay.h>
> static struct workqueue_struct *wq;
> static struct work_struct work;
> static void do_work(struct work_struct *w)
> {
> 	printk("starting work on cpu %d\n", smp_processor_id());
> 	msleep(10000);
> 	printk("finishing work on cpu %d\n", smp_processor_id());
> }
> static int __init test_init(void)
> {
> 	printk("module init\n");
> 	wq = alloc_workqueue("testd", WQ_MEM_RECLAIM | WQ_CPU_INTENSIVE, 1);
> 	if (!wq) {
> 		printk("alloc_workqueue failed\n");
> 		return -ENOMEM;
> 	}
> 	INIT_WORK(&work, do_work);
> 	queue_work_on(1, wq, &work);
> 	return 0;
> }
> static void __exit test_exit(void)
> {
> 	destroy_workqueue(wq);
> 	printk("module exit\n");
> }
> module_init(test_init)
> module_exit(test_exit)

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