Transactional Memory for Non-busy Waiting and NonTransactional actions

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kimo

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Aug 19, 2006, 2:18:27 AM8/19/06
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"ABSTRACT
Transactional Memory (TM) is a compelling alternative to
locks as a general-purpose concurrency control mechanism,
but it is yet unclear whether TM should be implemented as a
software or hardware construct. While hardware approaches
offer higher performance and can be used in conjunction with
legacy languages/code, software approaches are more flexible
and currently offer more functionality. In this paper, we try
to bridge, in part, the functionality gap between software and
hardware TMs by demonstrating how two software TM ideas
can be adapted to work in a hardware TM system. Specifically,
we demonstrate: 1) a process to efficiently support
transaction waiting - both intentional waiting and waiting
for a conflicting transaction to complete - by de-scheduling
the transacting thread, and 2) the concept of pausing and
an implementation of compensation to allow *non-idempotent*
system calls, I/O, and access to high contention data within
a long-running transaction. Both mechanisms can be implemented
with minimal extensions to an existing hardware TM
proposal."

http://www-sal.cs.uiuc.edu/~zilles/papers/non_transact.transact2006.pdf

Chris Thomasson

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Aug 19, 2006, 5:28:24 PM8/19/06
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"kimo" <kimocr...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1155968307.9...@m73g2000cwd.googlegroups.com...

That is a lot of work for a synchronization instruction... Whatever happened
to plain old CAS!

:)


IMHO, they have to implement transactional memory in the hardware if they
want it to be even remotely usable. I can make use of a transactional
instruction in vZOOM, however I would try to avoid its use at all costs...
The transactional instructions have simply got to be more expensive than a
"normal" CAS or LL/SC... I would not allow my reader threads to use the
transaction instructions when they are traversing through large
data-structures. This is not because I don't like TM; I don't let my reader
threads use CAS, or any atomic operations for that matter...

Reader threads don't seem to like to call these types of instructions. The
amount of searches' they can perform per-second gets changes drastically
when CAS and/or memory barriers are used. I could only imagine the overhead
involved with many reader threads frequently searching/traversing throughout
a data-structure that has hundreds-of-thousands or even million+ nodes
during periods of load. Design a TM can be tedious.

Humm, come to think about it... I could use vZOOM to create a STM...
Transaction logic integrated into my per-thread memory allocator and proxy
garbage collector... Humm... I think Joe posted something on integrating
transactions into RCU-SMR...

I would be neat to give vZOOM or RCU-SMR hardware support. I think alls that
it would take is periodic/episodic interrupt every time all of the CPUS in
the system have executed "something" that behaves as a memory barrier...
vZOOM could use this interrupt to implement its polling logic...


Chris Thomasson

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Aug 21, 2006, 2:03:27 AM8/21/06
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"kimo" <kimocr...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1155968307.9...@m73g2000cwd.googlegroups.com...


One other MAJOR *point about TM... STM or HTM both "suffer" from a not so
well known phenomena:

Inconsistent data can, and will, be accessed in a transactional atomic
block! A users algorithm for a transactional based system is based solely
inside of an atomic block, e.g.,


atomic { // start transactional atomic block
users_algorithm{
// Access transactional data-structures
}
} // try to commit transactional atomic block


This means that the users algorithm can actually "operate" on inconsistent
data... No kidding, not at all... therefore, a users algorithm behavior is
basically undefined, whether the programmer likes it or not... Think about
it for a minute... If your algorithm is fed with "no-so coherent" data, then
your algorithm will be subject to undefined behavior by default...


Wow... The implementations that I have seen have to actually catch any and
all fatal exceptions that can, and WILL, arise when a user algorithm is
subjected to inconsistent data... Sometimes your algorithm crashes right off
the bat and gets intercepted by the STM where the transaction will be
aborted, and retried... Sometimes your algorithm will be stuck in an
infinite loop (most common problem, IMHO) , inside the atomic block... STM
has to watch out for this kind of stuff... IMHO, this is a MAJOR drawback
and a down right dangerous aspect of transactional memory... This behavior
is inherent in basically any TM implementation; hardware or software...


Need to think some more on this troubling subject... Now you know just some
of the reasons why I don't like TM...

Yikes!

:O


* I can't believe I forgot to mention this; totally slipped my mind. Right
when I remembered this I went over to Wikipedia to see if anybody bring this
fact up; somebody did... IMO, its vital that anybody who thinks about using
TM completely understands this particular caveat!


Joe Seigh

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Aug 21, 2006, 6:06:12 AM8/21/06
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Chris Thomasson wrote:
> "kimo" <kimocr...@gmail.com> wrote in message
> news:1155968307.9...@m73g2000cwd.googlegroups.com...
...

I depends on what your semantics are, i.e. what operations are atomic
w.r.t other operations. The operations can be plain reads, plain writes,
read only transactions, write transactions, and read/modify/write transations.
Stronger guarantees are likely to incur more overhead or performance impact.

--
Joe Seigh

When you get lemons, you make lemonade.
When you get hardware, you make software.

kimo

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Aug 21, 2006, 7:26:00 AM8/21/06
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Chris Thomasson wrote:

>
> One other MAJOR *point about TM... STM or HTM both "suffer" from a not so
> well known phenomena:
>
> Inconsistent data can, and will, be accessed in a transactional atomic
> block! A users algorithm for a transactional based system is based solely
> inside of an atomic block, e.g.,

> * I can't believe I forgot to mention this; totally slipped my mind. Right


> when I remembered this I went over to Wikipedia to see if anybody bring this
> fact up; somebody did... IMO, its vital that anybody who thinks about using
> TM completely understands this particular caveat!

The Stanford effort is attempting to address the Consistency concern:

In this paper, we propose a new shared memory model: Transactional
memory Coherence and Consistency (TCC). TCC provides
a model in which atomic transactions are always the basic
unit of parallel work, communication, memory coherence, and
memory reference consistency. TCC greatly simplifies parallel
software by eliminating the need for synchronization using conventional
locks and semaphores, along with their complexities.

http://ogun.stanford.edu/~kunle/publications/tcc_isca2004.pdf

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