Courses/Computer Science/CPSC 457.W2012/Lecture Notes/KernSync

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Kernel Synchronization

In this session, we will continue our examination of kernel synchronization, particularly dealing with the topic of kernel preemption, how certain synchronization primitives are implemented, and a couple of advanced synchronization techniques. We will finish (time permitting) with some code for (1) timing and (2) drawing the use of locks.

Focus questions:

  • How are spinlocks and semaphores actually implemented inside the kernel?
  • How can we improve system throughput by distinguishing between readers and writers?
  • How can we improve system throughput by allowing a writer into a critical section even though readers may also be present?
  • How does RCU safely provide synchronization without using locks?


The slides for today in both PPTX and PDF.

Concurrency Design Considerations

  • see ULK, pg 217
  • A good OS design goal is to maximize the amount of concurrency in the system. This can be done by
    • enabling most I/O devices to operate concurrently
    • CPUs should be kept as much as possible in a state where they help processes make progress (as opposed to, e.g., busy-waiting)
  • this means that
    • (1) interrupt handlers should be fast and (2) most kernel paths should disable interrupts for a very short period of time
    • spin locks should be avoided

Waking Up Tasks from a RW Semaphore Queue The __rwsem_do_wake() function illustrates how the semaphore up() (i.e., exit/release) functionality will attempt to pick a waiting writer or let a number of waiting readers into the critical section.

Read-Copy-Update (RCU) The read-copy-update mechanism is on display even in as simple a facility as servicing the getppid(2) system call. When calling the task_tgid_vnr() function, getppid() has to be careful because current->real_parent might change during the call, so it invokes rcu_read_lock(). This function in turn invokes __rcu_read_lock(), which maps via a macro to the call to disable kernel preemption, preempt_disable()

Timing the Performance Difference in Locked vs. Unlocked Code

[michael@xorenduex lockperf]$ time ./saferace 
real	0m6.166s
user	0m6.149s
sys	0m0.007s
[michael@xorenduex lockperf]$ time ./unrace 
real	0m0.466s
user	0m0.461s
sys	0m0.003s
[michael@xorenduex lockperf]$


None, work on HW3.

Supplemental Reading

ULK: Chapter 5 "Kernel Synchronization" (most of today's material is drawn from this chapter). As a practical illustration of abstract CS concepts, this is probably one of the best chapters in ULK.