Towards a Scalable Non-Blocking Coding Style
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Nonblocking (NB) algorithms are something of a Holy Grail of concurrent programming--typically very fast, even under heavy load, they come with hard guarantees about forward progress. The downside is ...
Nonblocking (NB) algorithms are something of a Holy Grail of concurrent programming--typically very fast, even under heavy load, they come with hard guarantees about forward progress. The downside is that they are very hard to get right. This presentations authors worked on writing some nonblocking utilities (open sourced on SourceForge in the high-scale-lib project) and have made some progress toward a coding style that can be used to build a variety of NB data structures: hash tables, sets, work queues, and bit vectors. These data structures scale much better than even the concurrent JDK™ software utilities while providing the same correctness guarantees. They usually have similar overheads at the low end while scaling incredibly well on high-end hardware. The coding style is still very immature but shows clear promise. It stems from a handful of basic premises: You don't hide payload during updates; any thread can complete (or ignore) any in-progress update; use flat arrays for quick access and broadest-possible striping; and use parallel, concurrent, incremental array copy. At the core is a simple state-machine description of the update logic.
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