[riot-devel] Odd problems with xtimer

Michael Andersen michael at steelcode.com
Wed Feb 10 23:08:26 CET 2016


Thanks for the reply. I am on a platform essentially equal to a samr21xpro.

The short answers:
 - samr21xpro
- only one declared xtimer_t object that is used more than once. I use it
with xtimer_set_msg for a thread to send itself a message. Both the timer
and the msg object are statically allocated. On the other hand, I have RPL
and all sorts of network things going and I have no doubt there are a ton
of timers involved. In terms of ephemeral timers, I call xtimer_usleep a
LOT with intervals of between 1ms and 100ms from multiple threads. I also
send packets every 200ms or so and receive them every 500ms or so.
 -The interrupt load might be pretty steep if the radio is interrupting on
every packet (promiscuous mode). I don't think it is. Otherwise I would
imagine that other than the timers it is less than ten per second.

As for memory corruption, that may well be the case. I will double check my
code. I thought it was somewhat unusual that multiple boards would all get
a timer pointing to itself, but I suppose not all corruption is
non-deterministic and they all run identical firmware, so it might be

One question, in the network stacks, are there ever two threads possibly
using the same timer object? I ask because the timer_remove and the insert
are in two different critical sections, and if there are concurrent calls
with the same timer object then it might be possible to interrupt between
the critical sections and insert a timer that is already in the list. What
would then happen is that this loop
end with list_head equal to the timer (assuming no other timer has the same
time), and then the next two lines would basically link the timer to itself.

I could be wrong though, that is just a guess.

On Wed, Feb 10, 2016 at 2:45 AM, Kaspar Schleiser <kaspar at schleiser.de>

> Hey Michael,
> On 02/10/2016 07:57 AM, Michael Andersen wrote:
> > it seems that one of the nodes in the list points to itself, hence the
> > endless loop.
> >
> > My first question is: when is this possible? It seems at first glance
> > that all code paths that lead here call remove_timer to prevent this
> > sort of problem.
> It should not be possible (tm).
> I took another look at the code, it seems to me that timer->next gets
> overwritten whenever a timer is set, so there can't be some outdated value.
> It might be that the list logic has a bug somewhere, but I remember
> testing them quite rigourously.
> > I don't access a the same timer object from two
> > different threads. My code using xtimer functions is not reentered.
> >
> > I don't use that many timer operations in my application code, but I do
> > assume that the following functions don't require any freeing or
> > removing afterwards, am I wrong?
> Completely right.
> Could you tell us more on how you are using timers?
> Interesting would be things like
> - what platform are you on
> - how many timers are simultaneously active
> - how are the intervals
> - how is the interrupt load
> ... that might help corner the issue.
> You should consider xtimer just showing a problem which might be caused
> by memory corruption.
> Kaspar
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