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Embedded Linux Experts

On some platforms, so-called memory-mapped I/O is weakly ordered.  On such
platforms, driver writers are responsible for ensuring that I/O writes to
memory-mapped addresses on their device arrive in the order intended.  This is
typically done by reading a 'safe' device or bridge register, causing the I/O
chipset to flush pending writes to the device before any reads are posted.  A
driver would usually use this technique immediately prior to the exit of a
critical section of code protected by spinlocks.  This would ensure that
subsequent writes to I/O space arrived only after all prior writes (much like a
memory barrier op, mb(), only with respect to I/O).

A more concrete example from a hypothetical device driver:

        ...
CPU A:  spin_lock_irqsave(&dev_lock, flags)
CPU A:  val = readl(my_status);
CPU A:  ...
CPU A:  writel(newval, ring_ptr);
CPU A:  spin_unlock_irqrestore(&dev_lock, flags)
        ...
CPU B:  spin_lock_irqsave(&dev_lock, flags)
CPU B:  val = readl(my_status);
CPU B:  ...
CPU B:  writel(newval2, ring_ptr);
CPU B:  spin_unlock_irqrestore(&dev_lock, flags)
        ...

In the case above, the device may receive newval2 before it receives newval,
which could cause problems.  Fixing it is easy enough though:

        ...
CPU A:  spin_lock_irqsave(&dev_lock, flags)
CPU A:  val = readl(my_status);
CPU A:  ...
CPU A:  writel(newval, ring_ptr);
CPU A:  (void)readl(safe_register); /* maybe a config register? */
CPU A:  spin_unlock_irqrestore(&dev_lock, flags)
        ...
CPU B:  spin_lock_irqsave(&dev_lock, flags)
CPU B:  val = readl(my_status);
CPU B:  ...
CPU B:  writel(newval2, ring_ptr);
CPU B:  (void)readl(safe_register); /* maybe a config register? */
CPU B:  spin_unlock_irqrestore(&dev_lock, flags)

Here, the reads from safe_register will cause the I/O chipset to flush any
pending writes before actually posting the read to the chipset, preventing
possible data corruption.