The kernel is filled with tests whose results almost never change. A
classic example is tracepoints, which will be disabled on running systems
with only very rare exceptions. There has long been interest in optimizing
the tests done in such places; with 2.6.37, the "jump label" feature
will make those tests go away entirely.
Consider the definition of a typical tracepoint, which, behind all of the
preprocessor madness, looks something like:
static inline trace_foo(args)
/* Actually do tracing stuff */
The cost of a test for a single tracepoint is essentially zero. The number
of tracepoints in the kernel is growing, though, and each one adds a new
test. Each test must fetch a value from memory, adding to the pressure on
the cache and hurting performance. Given that the value almost never changes, it
would be nice to find a way to optimize the "tracepoint disabled" case.
In 2.6.37, this tracepoint can be rewritten using a new macro:
#define JUMP_LABEL(key, label) \
if (unlikely(*key)) \
The nice thing is that JUMP_LABEL() does not have to be
implemented like that. It can, instead, (1) note the location of the
test and the key value in a special table, and (2) simply
insert a no-op instruction. That reduces the cost of the test (and the
tracepoint) to zero for the common "not enabled" case. Most of the time,
the tracepoint will never be enabled and the omitted test will never be
The tricky part happens when somebody wants to enable the tracepoint.
Changing its status now requires calling one of a pair of special
void enable_jump_label(void *key);
void disable_jump_label(void *key);
A call to enable_jump_label() will look up the key in the jump
label table, then replace the special no-op instructions with the assembly
equivalent of "goto label", enabling the tracepoint.
Disabling the jump label will cause the no-op instruction to be restored.
The end result is a significant reduction in the overhead of disabled
tracepoints. This feature only works on architectures which support it
(x86 only, at the moment) and only with relatively recent versions of GCC;
otherwise the preprocessor version is used.
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