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Hollis Blanchard <>
5 Jun 2002
This document describes the system (including self-modifying code) used in the
PPC Linux kernel to support a variety of PowerPC CPUs without requiring
compile-time selection.
Early in the boot process the ppc32 kernel detects the current CPU type and
chooses a set of features accordingly. Some examples include Altivec support,
split instruction and data caches, and if the CPU supports the DOZE and NAP
sleep modes.
Detection of the feature set is simple. A list of processors can be found in
arch/powerpc/kernel/cputable.c. The PVR register is masked and compared with
each value in the list. If a match is found, the cpu_features of cur_cpu_spec
is assigned to the feature bitmask for this processor and a __setup_cpu
function is called.
C code may test 'cur_cpu_spec[smp_processor_id()]->cpu_features' for a
particular feature bit. This is done in quite a few places, for example
in ppc_setup_l2cr().
Implementing cpufeatures in assembly is a little more involved. There are
several paths that are performance-critical and would suffer if an array
index, structure dereference, and conditional branch were added. To avoid the
performance penalty but still allow for runtime (rather than compile-time) CPU
selection, unused code is replaced by 'nop' instructions. This nop'ing is
based on CPU 0's capabilities, so a multi-processor system with non-identical
processors will not work (but such a system would likely have other problems
After detecting the processor type, the kernel patches out sections of code
that shouldn't be used by writing nop's over it. Using cpufeatures requires
just 2 macros (found in arch/powerpc/include/asm/cputable.h), as seen in head.S
mfspr r22,SPRN_VRSAVE /* if G4, save vrsave register value */
stw r22,THREAD_VRSAVE(r23)
#endif /* CONFIG_ALTIVEC */
If CPU 0 supports Altivec, the code is left untouched. If it doesn't, both
instructions are replaced with nop's.
The END_FTR_SECTION macro has two simpler variations: END_FTR_SECTION_IFSET
and END_FTR_SECTION_IFCLR. These simply test if a flag is set (in
cur_cpu_spec[0]->cpu_features) or is cleared, respectively. These two macros
should be used in the majority of cases.
The END_FTR_SECTION macros are implemented by storing information about this
code in the '__ftr_fixup' ELF section. When do_cpu_ftr_fixups
(arch/powerpc/kernel/misc.S) is invoked, it will iterate over the records in
__ftr_fixup, and if the required feature is not present it will loop writing