[U-Boot] [PATCH] Fix unreliable detection of DRAM size on Orange Pi 3

André Przywara andre.przywara at arm.com
Fri Aug 30 00:44:34 UTC 2019

On 25/08/2019 15:41, Siarhei Siamashka wrote:
> On Sat, 24 Aug 2019 22:07:43 +0200
> Ondřej Jirman <megous at megous.com> wrote:


>> Hi Jagan,
>> can you please apply this patch to the sunxi tree, so that it
>> doesn't get lost.
>> thank you,
>> 	Ondrej
>> On Mon, Jul 29, 2019 at 01:39:42AM +0200, megous hlavni wrote:
>>> From: Ondrej Jirman <megous at megous.com>
>>> Orange Pi 3 has 2 GiB of DRAM, that sometime get misdetected
>>> as 4 GiB, due to false negative result from mctl_mem_matches()
>>> when detecting number of column address bits. This leads to
>>> u-boot detecting more address bits than there are and the
>>> boot process hangs shortly after.
>>> In mctl_mem_matches() we need to wait for each write to finish,
>>> separately. Without this, the check is not reliable for some
>>> unknown reason, probably having to do with unpredictable memory
>>> access ordering.
>>> Patch was made with help from André Przywara, who noticed that
>>> my original idea about detection failing due to read-back from
>>> cache without involving DRAM was false, because data cache is
>>> still of at the time of the DRAM size autodetection.
>>> Signed-off-by: Ondrej Jirman <megous at megous.com>
>>> Cc: André Przywara <andre.przywara at arm.com>
>>> ---
>>>  arch/arm/mach-sunxi/dram_helpers.c | 1 +
>>>  1 file changed, 1 insertion(+)
>>> diff --git a/arch/arm/mach-sunxi/dram_helpers.c b/arch/arm/mach-sunxi/dram_helpers.c
>>> index 239ab421a8..6dba448638 100644
>>> --- a/arch/arm/mach-sunxi/dram_helpers.c
>>> +++ b/arch/arm/mach-sunxi/dram_helpers.c
>>> @@ -30,6 +30,7 @@ bool mctl_mem_matches(u32 offset)
>>>  {
>>>  	/* Try to write different values to RAM at two addresses */
>>>  	writel(0, CONFIG_SYS_SDRAM_BASE);
>>> +	dsb();
>>>  	writel(0xaa55aa55, (ulong)CONFIG_SYS_SDRAM_BASE + offset);
>>>  	dsb();
>>>  	/* Check if the same value is actually observed when reading back */
>>> -- 
> Hi!
> This looks like resurfacing of the old problem, which did not get a
> complete fix back in 2016:
>    https://lists.denx.de/pipermail/u-boot/2016-April/251803.html
> Now the main question is whether the DSB instruction's barrier
> magic is really required here or maybe it's just a timing issue.

I think both:
>From the compiler's and the CPU's point of view these two stores look
independent: they don't have any data dependency and go to different
addresses. So both the compiler and the CPU are allowed to reorder these
stores. However, we are after some non-obvious aliasing effect, so in
fact there *is* a dependency between the two stores. So architecturally
this barrier is definitely required, to notify everyone about this
dependency (although I think a dmb(); might be sufficient here).

So for the sake of this patch, we should take it. It is needed and
apparently solves one issue, and I can't see any harm in it.

Regardless of this I was wondering if in this situation (single in-order
core running with MMU and caches off) this is the full story, as the CPU
does not have a good reason to reorder.

> Could you please experiment with this problem a little bit more?
>  1. What if you just move this second DSB instruction after the
>     second write and have two of them there? Does this also make
>     the problem disappear?

I don't think two dsb()s next to each other will do anything useful. I
would think the second dsb() would just be ignored, as the order is
already preserved and all memory accesses have been completed:
"A DSB is a memory barrier that ensures that memory accesses that occur
before the DSB have completed before the completion of the DSB
instruction." (ARMv8 ARM, section B2.3.5: DSB)
I can't imagine this would introduce any kind of relevant delay, as a
DSB is just a barrier.

>  2. What if you just replace DSB with udelay(1) / udelay(10) /
>     udelay(100)? Does this make the problem disappear?>
> I suspect that we may be dealing with some sort of buffering in
> the DRAM controller itself

Indeed it seems perfectly possible that the DDR3 controller buffers and
potentially reorders those two writes.
The canonical solution would to force the write by telling the memory
controller directly, however this is probably not only controller
specific, but also undocumented.

I was wondering whether waiting for the next refresh would help (or for
the period of one refresh cycle), but I guess the DRAM controller could
buffer requests beyond that point.

> and the only reason why DSB helps is
> that it introduces some delay because it's a rather slow
> instruction.

How much delay a DSB instruction introduces, is dependent on many
things, but mostly on the number of outstanding memory requests and the
time it takes them to complete them. So I am not sure we can call it a
"slow instruction" per se.

So to summarise: I think Siarhei has a point in that this is actually
more of a timing issue, but the DSB in there is needed and we should
apply this patch:

Reviewed-by: Andre Przywara <andre.przywara at arm.com>


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