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C Brumme Hosting, Weblog article, http: / /blogsmsdncom/ cbrumme /archive / 2004 / 02/21 / 77595aspx (2004) R Chen Using Fibers to Simplify Enumerators, Parts 1-3, Weblog articles, http: / /blogsmsdncom/ oldnewthing / archive /2004 / 1 2 / 29 / 343664aspx, http: / /blogsmsdncom / oldnewthing/archive / 2004 / 1 2 / 30 / 344281 aspx, and http: / /blogsmsdncom/ oldnewthing/ archive /2004 / 1 2 / 3 1 / 344799aspx (2004) K Henderson The Perils of Fiber Mode MSDN, http: / /msdn2 microsoftcom / aa 1 75385aspx (2005)
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L Osterman Why Does Win32 Even Have Fibers Weblog article, http: / /blogs msdncom / larryosterman / archive/ 2005 /01 / 05 / 347314aspx (2005) A Shankar Implementing Coroutines for NET by Wrapping the Unmanaged Fiber API Weblog article, MSDN Magazine, http: / / msdnmicrosoftcom / msdnmag/ issues / 03 / 09 / CoroutinesinNET / (2003) M Stall Managed Debugging Doesn't Support Fibers Weblog article, http: / /blogsmsdncom/jmstall /archive/ 2005 / 03 / 01 / 382474aspx (2005) D Viehland Cooperative Fiber Mode Sample, Days 1-1 1 Weblog articles http: / / blogs msdncom / dinoviehland / archive/ 2004 / 08 / 1 6 / 2 1 5 1 40aspx (2004) D Viehland Fiber Mode Is Gone Weblog article, http: / /blogsmsdn com / dinoviehland / archive / 2005 / 09 / 1 5 / 469642aspx (2005)
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Memory Models and Lock Freedom
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VER THE PAST several chapters, we've seen how threads communi
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cate with one another, often with nothing but reads from (loads) and
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writes to (stores) shared memory locations We also saw that synchroniza tion is necessary to prevent data races when doing so All of this discussion has been oversimplified There are forms of interthread loads and stores that can be done without heavy-handed, critical-region style synchronization Doing this right often requires a deep understanding of your compiler and hardware architecture, specifically the atomicity and ordering guarantees made with respect to load and stores With such an understanding, code can be written to avoid some overhead and to improve scalability and liveness But this comes at the cost of more intricate and difficult to understand code This practice is often informally called lock free programming Such code typically avoids full-fledged locks for hot code paths by exploiting memory model guarantees, but can still end up using hardware atomic instructions or locks in less common code paths In some cases, locks can be avoided altogether, which falls into the category of nonblocking pro
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gramming In this chapter, we'll examine some aspects of lock free tech niques: why they can offer advantages over lock based programming, the fundamentals you need to know to be successful with them, why
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they are often difficult t o get working right i n practice, why many lock free algorithms can appear to run correctly on some machines only to fail on others, and conclude with useful and safe lock free programming approaches and techniques If this sounds difficult, it is In the majority of all concurrent programs, low lock programming is a premature optimization It can quickly destroy the cor rectness of your program, so it is not to be taken lightly Worse, testing con currency algorithms is still a mysterious art, even when locks are involved, and eschewing them altogether makes life more difficult Understanding why these techniques are possible, however, is intellectually stimulating and, at the very least, will deepen your understanding of concurrency, so it is worth exploring
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Critical regions, when built right, ensure atomicity and serializability among regions running concurrently on different threads This is a funda mental correctness property This guarantees that a store to memory loca tion x inside some critical region A will be visible by the time any other thread subsequently loads the value of x from inside the same region A We say the first thread's critical region A (including its store to x) "happens before" and "synchronizes with" the second thread's region A (including its load of x) This property is easy to take for granted, but is important to understand We'll examine why this is so later on Once you leave the realm of critical regions (eg, Win32 C R ITICAL_ S E CTIONs and CLR Mon itor s), these assumptions no longer hold We proba bly all expect that a multi variable update isn't safe outside of such a region (since a thread could see the update "in between"), but many would be sur prised that lockless, single-variable updates aren't always safe either Memory operations are routinely reordered by the software and hard ware responsible for executing your program 1 Compilers often perform optimizations that result in loads and stores being moved, eliminated, or added in the process of transforming source text into compiled program instructions This is called code
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