DragonFly BSD
DragonFly kernel List (threaded) for 2006-11
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Re: Lockless algorithms [was Re: splxxx replacements?]

From: Matthew Dillon <dillon@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2006 09:04:53 -0800 (PST)

:What's going on with DragonFly ? It might be a good thing to have some
:technical discusssion on commit be summarized here as well. Apparently
:you folks decided to move away from tokens in favor of straight
:spinlocks since they were a pain in the ass to use and there was no public
:mention about this.
:Another thing I've heard is that your route table stuff went lockless,
:which is a significant change and worth noting as well as discussing. And
:fron IRC discussions, RCU is starting to be pushed by various people,
:correct ?
:What's going on with you folks and lockless algorithms ?

    The route table work is rather significant, though it won't really
    shine until Giant is removed from the protocol threads.  Basically
    the route table is now replicated across all cpus and thus can be 
    accessed by any given cpu with only a critical section for 

    We still use tokens in several major areas, but we have been shifting
    the ones that were only being used to lock short codepaths over to

    Basically DragonFly has five locking primitives:

    * Critical Sections

	Prevents preemption, Interrupts, and IPIs from occuring on the
	current cpu only.  Automatically released if the thread switches 
	away and is reacquired when the thread switches back.  Typically
	used to interlock operations local to the cpu.

	Critical section calls are, for all intents and purposes, free.
	They are implemented with just a small handful of instructions and
	no locked bus cycle instructions.  Overhead is less then 5 nS.

    * Spinlocks

	May only be used to lock very short code paths.  Severe restrictions
	on use.  May not block while holding a spinlock.  Automatically 
	enters a critical section.  Deadlocks automatically detected and
	will panic the system.

	Spinlocks do not block or cause a thread switch to occur and can
	be used in code paths that are not allowed to block.

	It should be noted that spinlocks are NOT in any way similar to
	FreeBSD's mutexes.  In DragonFly spinlocks are considered to be
	very, very low level mechanisms that are not to be held across
	complex code paths.

    * Tokens

	May be used to lock long code paths.  May be nested.  Automatically
	released if a thread blocks or switches away (not released on
	preemption, only on explicit switches), and is reacquired when the
	thread resumes.  That is, guarentees atomicy within the code domain
	the token was acquired for only while the thread is running.  If
	the code domain blocks the token is released and reacquired on

	Tokens may block and may cause a thread switch to occur and can
	only be used in code paths where blocking is ok.

    * LockMgr Locks

	May be used to lock long code paths.  May be nested.  NOT released
	when a thread blocks.  Has a fairly heavy-weight API (but I have
	simplified it enormously over this development cycle).

    * Serializing locks

	Serializing locks are basically a simplified version of exclusive
	lockmgr locks.  They are allowed to block on aquisition and are 
	held across thread switches and blockages.   The interrupt subsystem
	tightly integrates serializing locks to efficiently manage
	interlocks between mainline code running for a driver and the
	interrupt handler for that same driver.

	These effectively replace spl's, but only from the point of view
	of any particular driver.  Most spl's in the system are unrelated
	to drivers and are more appropriately turned into critical sections.

	I may remove serializing locks in favor of LockMgr locks due to
	the simplification that has occured in the LockMgr API over the
	last year.


    RCU is interesting but I personally prefer replication and
    cpu-localization instead of RCU.  So far nothing has come up that really
    needs an RCU implementation.  RCU suffers from a level of complexity
    that makes it somewhat difficult to understand the code using it, and
    I don't like that aspect of it.

    The use of tokens in the system is primarily being relegated to situations
    that actually need the above characteristics.  A very good example of
    this is the traversal of system structures such as the system mountlist.
    An example of incorrect use would be in, say, kern_objcache.c, where we
    really ought to be using a spinlock there instead.

					Matthew Dillon 

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