Re: SBI Debug Console Extension Proposal (Draft v2)

Heinrich Schuchardt

On 6/27/22 10:46, Anup Patel wrote:
Hi All,

Based on feedback, below is the updated draft proposal of the
SBI Debug Console Extension ...

The motivations behind this proposal is as follows:
1) There is no new SBI extension replacing the legacy SBI v0.1
putchar() and getchar() calls. These legacy SBI v0.1 calls are
now disabled by default in Linux and will be eventually deprecated.
We need a replacement at least for the SBI v0.1 putchar() which
is widely used for early prints in various OSes and Bootloaders.
2) The OS-A Platforms (or SEE) specification need to mandate
a particular type of UART (8250, ns16550, or SiFive) as a standard
way for boot-time early prints in supervisor-mode software. Using
SBI debug console extension, the OS-A Platforms (or SEE)
specifications don't need to mandate any type of UART.
3) The legacy SBI v0.1 putchar() only supports printing one
character at a time. For some of the hypervisors (particularly KVM),
SBI based early prints (i.e. earlycon=sbi) is slow because each
SBI v0.1 putchar() trap will be forwarded to the KVM user-space

In short, the SBI debug console extension defines a standard way
for boot-time early prints in supervisor-mode software.

Please review it and provide your feedback.


SBI Debug Console Extension (EID #0x4442434E "DBCN")

The debug console extension defines a generic mechanism for boot-time
early prints from supervisor-mode software which allows users to catch
Why should only S-mode and not HS-mode be allowed? I think the modes
that are allowed to access this extension should be enumerated more clearly.

How are systems treated that only have M-mode and U-mode?

boot-time issues in supervisor-mode software.

This extension replaces legacy console putchar (EID #0x01) extension
and it is better in following ways:
1) It follows the new calling convention defined for SBI v1.0
(or higher).
2) It allows supervisor software to print multiple characters
in a single SBI call.

If the underlying physical console has extra bits for error checking
(or correction) then these extra bits should be handled by the
SBI implementation.

Function: Console Puts (FID #0)

struct sbiret sbi_debug_console_puts(unsigned long addr_div_by_4,
unsigned long num_chars)

Print the string specified by the `addr_div_by_4` and `num_chars`
parameters on the debug console. The `addr_div_by_4` parameter is
the physical base address of the string right shifted by 2 whereas
the `num_chars` parameter is the number of characters (or bytes) in
the string.

The memory pointed the `addr_div_by_4` and `num_chars` parameters
must be:
1) Accessible to supervisor-mode
2) Cacheable and writable memory
Accessibility by supervisor-mode is required due to security
considerations: You should not be able to print out M-mode's secrets via
S-mode software. This should be clearly stated.

MUST an SBI implementation check this feature? Probably yes. How shall
it be checked?

The SBI is not meant to change the string and therefore needs no write
access. There is no reason to require that the memory should be
writable. The string could reside in NOR flash.

Caching may speed up the SBI code. But why should we require this
specific memory region being cached?

One of the replies to your v1 patch requested to have the same
capabilities as putchar(): just pass a single character in a register.
Should a second FID be added?

Best regards


This is a blocking SBI call and will only return after printing
all characters of the string.

SBI_SUCCESS - Characters printed successfully.
SBI_ERR_INVALID_ADDRESS - The string pointed by `addr_div_by_4`
and `num_chars` parameters is either not
accessible to supervisor-mode or does not
point to cacheable and writable memory.
SBI_ERR_FAILED - Failed to print characters due to
I/O errors.

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