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SubjectRe: [rfc] "fair" rw spinlocks
On Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 03:54:09PM +0100, Nick Piggin wrote:
> Hi,
> Last time this issue came up that I could see, I don't think
> there were objections to making rwlocks fair, the main
> difficulty seemed to be that we allow reentrant read locks
> (so a write lock waiting must not block arbitrary read lockers).
> Nowadays our rwlock usage is smaller although still quite a
> few, so it would make better sense to do a conversion by
> introducing a new lock type and move them over I guess.
> Anyway, I would like to add some kind of fairness or at least
> anti starvation for writers. We have a customer seeing total
> livelock on tasklist_lock for write locking on a system as small
> as 8 core Opteron.
> This was basically reproduced by several cores executing wait
> with WNOHANG.
> Of course it would always be nice to improve locking so
> contention isn't an issue, but so long as we have rwlocks, we
> could possibly get into a situation where starvation is
> triggered *somehow*. So I'd really like to fix this.
> This particular starvation on tasklist lock I guess is a local
> DoS vulnerability even if the workload is not particularly
> realistic.
> Anyway, I don't have a patch yet. I'm sure it can be done
> without extra atomics in fastpaths. Comments?

The usual trick would be to keep per-fair-rwlock state in per-CPU
variables. If it is forbidden to read-acquire one nestable fair rwlock
while read-holding another, then this per-CPU state can be a single
pointer and a nesting count. On the other hand, if it is permitted to
read-acquire one nestable fair rwlock while holding another, then one
can use a small per-CPU array of pointer/count pairs.

Readers check the per-CPU state. If they already read-hold the lock,
they increment the nesting count, otherwise, they contend directly for
the lock (and set up the per-CPU state).

Same number of atomics on the fastpath as the current implementation.
Too bad about those array access, though! ;-)

(Though on modern hardware, the array accesses might be a non-event,

Hey, you asked!!! And there are other ways to make this work, including
variations on brlock.

Thanx, Paul

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