Re: RISC-V Vector Extension post-public review updates - fault flagging

David Horner

On 2021-11-17 10:33 p.m., Bill Huffman wrote:

So if I set up indexes on a ff gather so that I ensure the first one is legal while the rest access pages I want to probe, how does the higher privilege software know I learned about all those pages?

First there is currently no ff gather.

But if there were, the vl would need to be truncated to the first in sequence that faulted.

That would potentially require back tracking by the handler from the element load that faulted first, to each of the earlier loads in the list.

A substantial effort to essentially be thrown away on the next try to discover the page mappings.

This was another reasons that ff gather was rejected. It does not play well with the parallel load behaviour that is allowed for loads.


I suppose an implementation could trap on any element if it started with vstart=0 and only complete with zero values loaded if vstart>0.

Then the higher privilege software could cooperate and restart even if the element failed for these instructions with vstart pointed at the failed element. 

But I don’t think that was the expected implementation.

Not sure I follow this.

But note:

If FF gather were implemented the designer would probably always trap on any fault.

If the OS determines the virtual addresses are legitimate it could preemptively page-in/allocate the requested addresses.

If any of the addresses are illegal/illegitimate it could certainly mark this application suspect and escalate its management to whatever security features are enabled.

This is a legal option for load sequential first fault but we have at most 2 pages/regions to deal with.

Indeed, the OS can emulate the set vl length behaviour. It would still be an optimization even in the guard page scenario.




From: tech-vector-ext@... <tech-vector-ext@...> On Behalf Of David Horner
Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 2021 10:12 PM
To: Jonathan Behrens <behrensj@...>
Cc: Andrew Waterman <andrew@...>; vector <tech-vector-ext@...>
Subject: Re: [RISC-V] [tech-vector-ext] RISC-V Vector Extension post-public review updates - fault flagging



The trap if first address bad is stipulated behaviour.


The other are not specified in the vector extension , but 

1. the counter is part of the generalized performance spec.

2. Always trap but allow resume is an implementation option.

3. Dynamically limit vl=1 is a hypothetical extension that could have a csr to manage.


Obviously these could be defined as part of the privilege spec and the VM guys probably want to nail them down exactly.


I prefer minimalistic S and M support with least specs to allow implementations latitude.


On Wed., Nov. 17, 2021, 21:33 Jonathan Behrens, <behrensj@...> wrote:

Are the mechanisms you mentioned hypothetical future ISA extensions, or something included in the current vector extension? In particular, I don't see anything about M-mode and/or HS-mode requesting a trap if too many non-faulting fault-first-load instructions are executed which modify vl.




On Wed, Nov 17, 2021 at 9:19 PM David Horner <ds2horner@...> wrote:

that should have been "The HS is in control, it can "leak" or not as it sees fit" obviously.

On 2021-11-17 9:16 p.m., David Horner via wrote:


On 2021-11-17 8:45 p.m., Andrew Waterman wrote:



On Wed, Nov 17, 2021 at 5:41 PM Jonathan Behrens <behrensj@...> wrote:



On Wed, Nov 17, 2021 at 8:24 PM Andrew Waterman via <> wrote:



On Wed, Nov 17, 2021 at 4:19 PM Jonathan Behrens <behrensj@...> wrote:

The security concern was being able to probe addresses to find accessible regions without free of being killed on touching a prohibited region.  It was noted that this is still present even for unit-stride in supervisor mode when using translation to arbitrarily probe supervisor physical space. However, I believe these security concerns are manageable through control mechanisms at higher privilege levels


Could someone say what these control mechanisms are? In particular, it seems like a VS-mode guest operating system could probe the entire guest physical address space using fault-on-first load without triggering any intervention from HS-mode or M-mode.


Perhaps I'm being obtuse, but I'm having trouble understanding why this specific case is a concern: it's within VS-mode's purview to know anything and everything about the guest physical address space.  (The situation is materially different than S vs. U, because those two share a VA space, whereas VS' GPA space is disjoint from HS' VA space.)


The physical address space that the hypervisor tells the guest about may not match the one installed in hgatp. For instance, some pages of the guest's memory might be marked copy-on-write or swapped out to disk. Or a particular device may supposedly be mapped into the guest VM, but actually just be an unmapped region so the host can trap-and-emulate any accesses to it. Even today it is possible for a guest VM to indirectly learn that these things might be happening, but directly being able to check whether a page is mapped adds a new level.


Yeah, agreed that detecting paged-out pages is a similar information leak.

The VS having this awareness can be very beneficial.

It allows the OS to better manage its resources. It can switch to handling other supervisory actions while that data is paged/staged in.

Never the less, the control mechanisms I previously mentioned apply here as well.

The HS is in control, it can "leak" or not as it sees fit.

(Though I think COW is not relevant here, since we're only talking about load instructions.)

Join { to automatically receive all group messages.