Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share by email
Architectural Support for Fair Reader-Writer Locking

Enrique Vallejo, Ramón Beivide, Adrián Cristal, Tim Harris, Fernando Vallejo, Osman Unsal, and Mateo Valero

Abstract

Many shared-memory parallel systems use lock-based synchronization mechanisms to provide mutual exclusion or reader-writer access to memory locations. Software locks are inefficient either in memory usage, lock transfer time, or both. Proposed hardware locking mechanisms are either too specific (for example, requiring static assignment of threads to cores and vice-versa), support a limited number of concurrent locks, require tag values to be associated with every memory location, rely on the low latencies of single-chip multicore designs or are slow in adversarial cases such as suspended threads in a lock queue. Additionally, few proposals cover reader-writer locks and their associated fairness issues. In this paper we introduce the Lock Control Unit (LCU) which is an acceleration mechanism collocated with each core to explicitly handle fast reader-writer locking. By associating a unique thread-id to each lock request we decouple the hardware lock from the requestor core. This provides correct and efficient execution in the presence of thread migration. By making the LCU logic autonomous from the core, it seamlessly handles thread preemption. Our design offers richer semantics than previous proposals, such as trylock support while providing direct core-to-core transfers. We evaluate our proposal with microbenchmarks, a fine-grain Software Transactional Memory system and programs from the Parsec and Splash parallel benchmark suites. The lock transfer time decreases in up to 30% when compared to previous hardware proposals. Transactional Memory systems limited by reader-locking congestion boost up to 3x while still preserving graceful fairness and starvation freedom properties. Finally, commonly used applications achieve speedups up to a 7% when compared to software models.

Details

Publication typeInproceedings
Published in43rd Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture, MICRO
PublisherIEEE
> Publications > Architectural Support for Fair Reader-Writer Locking