On Wed, 2007-06-20 at 19:08 +0200, Jan Kiszka wrote: 
> Philippe Gerum wrote:
> > On Mon, 2007-06-18 at 10:27 +0200, Jan Kiszka wrote: 
> >> Jan Kiszka wrote:
> >>> ...
> >>> The answer I found is to synchronise all time bases as good as possible.
> >>> That means if one base changes its wall clock offset, all others need to
> >>> be adjusted as well. At this chance, we would also implement
> >>> synchronisation of the time bases on the system clock when they get
> >>> started. Because skins may work with different type width to represent
> >>> time, relative changes have to be applied, i.e. the core API changes
> >>> from xntbase_set_time(new_time) to xntbase_adjust_time(relative_change).
> >>> The patch (global-wallclock.patch) finally touches more parts than I was
> >>> first hoping. Here is the full list:
> >>>
> >>>  - synchronise slave time bases on the master on xntbase_start
> >>>  - xntbase_set_time -> xntbase_adjust_time, fixing all time bases
> >>>    currently registered
> >>>  - make xnarch_start_timer return the nanos since the last host tick
> >>>    (only ia64 affected, all others return 0 anyway, causing one tick
> >>>    off when synchronising on system time -- but this fiddling becomes
> >>>    pointless on the long term due to better clocksourses on all archs)
> > 
> > Support for 2.4 kernels will be still around for the Xenomai 2.x series
> > though, and those will likely never support clocksources. Support for
> > Linux 2.4 will be discontinued starting from x3.
> Again: As the code looks right now, only ia64 made use of this feature.
> We have i386 and PPC for 2.4, and both did not bother to synchronise
> that precisely so far (here, this interface is pointless).
> And on x86 with recent 2.6 kernels, simply returning 0 on success of the
> timer setup made the master clock deviate from the real timeofday by one
> tick.

My remark was actually a general one: what happens within Linux 2.6
right now cannot be used to generalize anything for Xenomai 2, so we
cannot use anything related as an argument for what should happen in
this series. For the same reason, we do need wrappers for 2.4, even when
the latest incarnations might backport some 2.6 features, because the
whole point for people about remaining with some oldish Linux 2.4
release is precisely that most of them will _never_ want to upgrade
their current setup, 2.4.25 to 2.4.34, 2.4.x to 2.6, whatever, just
because it works as it is, and they don't want to take the upgrade hit
once again for their product in the field.

> > 
> >>>  - adapt vrtx, vxworks, and psos+ skin to new scheme, fixing sc_sclock
> >>>    at this chance
> >>>  - make xnarch_get_sys_time internal, no skin should (need to) touch
> >>>    this anymore
> > 
> > This interface has not been meant to be part of the skin building
> > interface, but for internal support code that needs to get the host
> > time. For instance, one may want this information for obscure data
> > logging from within a module, independently of any wallclock offset
> > fiddling Xenomai may do on its timebases (so nktbase is not an option
> > here if timebases start being tighly coupled). And this should work in
> > real execution mode, or in virtual simulation mode. IOW,
> > xnarch_get_sys_time() has to remain part of the exported internal
> > interface (even if as some inline routine, that's not the main issue
> > here).
> As I still haven't been able to see real code using it like this, I
> can't comment on it.

It's pretty simple to sketch some of it: you want to add some debugging
facility that needs timestamps, but you don't want to depend on any
timebase, because the timebase is part of what is being observed. What
you want is raw, silly, purely host-based timestamping. A bunch of
software models attached to Xenomai systems used for real-time
simulation I've seen do rely on that kind of facility.

> > 
> >> Forgot to mention two further aspects:
> >>
> >>  - The semantic of XNTBSET was kept time base-local. But I wonder if
> >>    this flag is still required. Unless it was introduced to emulated
> >>    some special RTOS behaviour, we now have the time bases automatically
> >>    set on startup. Comments welcome.
> >>
> > 
> > That might be a problem wrt pSOS for instance. In theory, tm_set() has
> > to be issued to set the initial time, so there is indeed the notion of
> > unset/invalid state for the pSOS wallclock time when the system starts.
> > This said, in the real world, such initialization better belongs to the
> > BSP rather than to the application itself, and in our case, the BSP is
> > Linux/Xenomai's business, so this would still make sense to assume that
> > a timebase has no unset state from the application POV, and XNTBSET
> > could therefore go away.
> That was my first impression as well, but I cannot asses the impact as I
> don't know real pSOS porting scenarios.

The impact is basically that you won't be able to emulate some error
condition, because the error situation would have vanished in the first
place. As I said, it's not a big issue actually.

> > 
> > The main concern I have right now regarding this patch is that it
> > changes a key aspect of Xenomai's current time management scheme:
> > timebases would be tighly coupled, whilst they aren't right now. For
> Which already caused troubles when dealing with RTDM, you remember?

No, I've decided to stop remembering about troubles of any kind. It's called
selective memory, and makes life a lot easier. But yeah, the RTDM issue did
actually escaped my filter...

> > instance, two timebases could have a very different idea of the Epoch in
> > the current implementation, and this patch is precisely made to kill
> > that aspect. This is a key issue if one considers how Xenomai should
> > deal with concurrent skins: either 1) as isolated virtual RTOS machines
> > with only a few bridges allowing very simple interfaces, or 2) as
> > possibly cooperating interfaces. It's all a matter of design; actually,
> > user/customer experience I know of clearly proves that #2 makes a lot of
> > sense, but still, this point needs to be discussed if needed.
> > 
> > So, two questions arise:
> > 
> > - what's the short term impact on the common - or not that common - use
> > case involving multiple concurrent skins? I tend to think that not that
> > many people are actually leveraging the current decoupling between
> > timebases. But, would some do, well, then they should definitely speak
> > up NOW.
> > 
> > - regarding the initial RTDM-related motivation now, why requiring all
> > timebases to be in sync Epoch-wise, instead of asking the software
> > wanting to exchange timestamps to always use the master timebase for
> > that purpose? By definition, nktbase is the most accurate, always valid
> > and running, and passing the timebase id along with the jiffy value when
> > exchanging timestamps would be no more needed.
> No existing API (native, posix, driver profiles, not to speak of legacy
> RTOSes) is prepare for this. Basically, this is the same reason why we
> cannot simply declare we would be able to deal with unsynchronised TSC
> time sources on SMP/multicore boxes. See my consideration in "Getting
> the clock model right".

This does not answer my question: why, in the RTDM case, would you
require the interfaces to be part of the solution, instead of leaving
the issue to the peers exchanging data, using the common master
timebase, leaving aside the unsync TSC issue which is platform-specific,
and will maybe require to abstract a meta-timebase on top of some
per-cpu master anyway.

The reason I think your patch should be merged is because we will need
the adequate tools for building skins which are semantically distributed
beasts, and for that, we do absolutly need another level of abstraction
to represent a consistent binding between timesources. But, merging it
has some impact, and I want to be as sure as possible that this won't
bite us later down the road.

> Well, what I can imaging as a compromise is to offer the user the option
> to explicitly decouple some skin from the system time. "Do this if you
> like to, but don't interact with others then!" This warning should be
> included in that case. But before I suggested this, I first wanted to
> wait for someone seriously screaming "I need this!"

If you think of it, decoupling only requires to keep a constant epoch
(at least one the nucleus does not update) somewhere within the timebase struct,
the user code could wire to some value when it sees fit (e.g. pSOSish tm_set(),
or VRTX's sc_stime() and so on). Obtaining a so-called constant-based time 
would have
then to be available through an additional method, returning constant_epoch + 
whatever delta means wrt aperiodic/periodic behaviour. The point here is that we
would just shift the constant epoch - decorrelated from system time - from 
xntbase_get_time() behaviour to something which should be explicitly requested
through a new specialized timebase method if needed.

IOW, introducing synchronized timebases is not the issue, making timebase
synchronization the default behaviour is what has some importance here.

> Jan

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