Sep 12 – 14, 2022
Europe/Dublin timezone

Zettalinux: It's Not Too Late To Start

Sep 14, 2022, 5:00 PM
"Lansdowne" (Clayton Hotel on Burlington Road)


Clayton Hotel on Burlington Road

Kernel Summit Track Kernel Summit


Matthew Wilcox (Oracle)


The current trend in memory sizes lead me to believe that we'll need
128-bit pointers by 2035. Hardware people are starting to think about it
[1a] [1b] [2]. We have a cultural problem in Linux where we believe that
all pointers (user or kernel) can be stuffed into an unsigned long and
newer C solutions (uintptr_t) are derided as "userspace namespace mess".

The only sane way to set up a C environment for a CPU with 128-bit
pointers is sizeof(void *) == 16, sizeof(short) == 2, sizeof(int) == 4,
sizeof(long) == 8, sizeof(long long) == 16.

That means that casting a pointer to a long will drop the upper 64
bits, and we'll have to use long long for the uintptr_t on 128-bit.
Fixing Linux to be 128-bit clean is going to be a big job, and I'm not
proposing to do it myself. But we can at least start by not questioning
when people use uintptr_t inside the kernel to represent an address.

Getting the userspace API fixed is going to be the most important thing
(eg io_uring was just added and is definitely not 128-bit clean).
Fortunately, no 128-bit machines exist today, so we have a bit of time
to get the UAPI right. But if not today, then we should start soon.

There are two purposes for this session:

  • Agree that we do need to start thinking about 128-bit architectures
    (even if they're not going to show up in our offices tomorrow)
  • Come to terms with needing to use uintptr_t instead of unsigned long


I agree to abide by the anti-harassment policy Yes

Primary author

Matthew Wilcox (Oracle)

Presentation materials