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SubjectRe: [RFC PATCH] introduce sys_membarrier(): process-wide memory barrier
On Thu, Jan 07, 2010 at 01:04:39AM -0500, Mathieu Desnoyers wrote:
> * Josh Triplett (josh@joshtriplett.org) wrote:
> > On Wed, Jan 06, 2010 at 11:40:07PM -0500, Mathieu Desnoyers wrote:
> > > Here is an implementation of a new system call, sys_membarrier(), which
> > > executes a memory barrier on all threads of the current process.
> > >
> > > It aims at greatly simplifying and enhancing the current signal-based
> > > liburcu userspace RCU synchronize_rcu() implementation.
> > > (found at http://lttng.org/urcu)
> > >
> > > Both the signal-based and the sys_membarrier userspace RCU schemes
> > > permit us to remove the memory barrier from the userspace RCU
> > > rcu_read_lock() and rcu_read_unlock() primitives, thus significantly
> > > accelerating them. These memory barriers are replaced by compiler
> > > barriers on the read-side, and all matching memory barriers on the
> > > write-side are turned into an invokation of a memory barrier on all
> > > active threads in the process. By letting the kernel perform this
> > > synchronization rather than dumbly sending a signal to every process
> > > threads (as we currently do), we diminish the number of unnecessary wake
> > > ups and only issue the memory barriers on active threads. Non-running
> > > threads do not need to execute such barrier anyway, because these are
> > > implied by the scheduler context switches.
> > [...]
> > > The current implementation simply executes a memory barrier in an IPI
> > > handler on each active cpu. Going through the hassle of taking run queue
> > > locks and checking if the thread running on each online CPU belongs to
> > > the current thread seems more heavyweight than the cost of the IPI
> > > itself (not measured though).
> >
> > > --- linux-2.6-lttng.orig/kernel/sched.c 2010-01-06 22:11:32.000000000 -0500
> > > +++ linux-2.6-lttng/kernel/sched.c 2010-01-06 23:20:42.000000000 -0500
> > > @@ -10822,6 +10822,36 @@ struct cgroup_subsys cpuacct_subsys = {
> > > };
> > > #endif /* CONFIG_CGROUP_CPUACCT */
> > >
> > > +/*
> > > + * Execute a memory barrier on all CPUs on SMP systems.
> > > + * Do not rely on implicit barriers in smp_call_function(), just in case they
> > > + * are ever relaxed in the future.
> > > + */
> > > +static void membarrier_ipi(void *unused)
> > > +{
> > > + smp_mb();
> > > +}
> > > +
> > > +/*
> > > + * sys_membarrier - issue memory barrier on current process running threads
> > > + *
> > > + * Execute a memory barrier on all running threads of the current process.
> > > + * Upon completion, the caller thread is ensured that all process threads
> > > + * have passed through a state where memory accesses match program order.
> > > + * (non-running threads are de facto in such a state)
> > > + *
> > > + * The current implementation simply executes a memory barrier in an IPI handler
> > > + * on each active cpu. Going through the hassle of taking run queue locks and
> > > + * checking if the thread running on each online CPU belongs to the current
> > > + * thread seems more heavyweight than the cost of the IPI itself.
> > > + */
> > > +SYSCALL_DEFINE0(membarrier)
> > > +{
> > > + on_each_cpu(membarrier_ipi, NULL, 1);
> > > +
> > > + return 0;
> > > +}
> > > +
> >
> > Nice idea. A few things come immediately to mind:
> >
> > - If !CONFIG_SMP, this syscall should become (more of) a no-op. Ideally
> > even if CONFIG_SMP but running with one CPU. (If you really wanted to
> > go nuts, you could make it a vsyscall that did nothing with 1 CPU, to
> > avoid the syscall overhead, but that seems like entirely too much
> > trouble.)
> >
>
> Sure, will do.
>
> > - Have you tested what happens if a process does "while(1)
> > membarrier();"? By running on every CPU, including those not owned by
> > the current process, this has the potential to make DoS easier,
> > particularly on systems with many CPUs. That gets even worse if a
> > process forks multiple threads running that same loop. Also consider
> > that executing an IPI will do work even on a CPU currently running a
> > real-time task.
>
> Just tried it with a 10,000,000 iterations loop.
>
> The thread doing the system call loop takes 2.0% of user time, 98% of
> system time. All other cpus are nearly 100.0% idle. Just to give a bit
> more info about my test setup, I also have a thread sitting on a CPU
> busy-waiting for the loop to complete. This thread takes 97.7% user
> time (but it really is just there to make sure we are indeed doing the
> IPIs, not skipping it through the thread_group_empty(current) test). If
> I remove this thread, the execution time of the test program shrinks
> from 32 seconds down to 1.9 seconds. So yes, the IPI is actually
> executed in the first place, because removing the extra thread
> accelerates the loop tremendously. I used a 8-core Xeon to test.

Do you know if the kernel properly measures the overhead of IPIs? The
CPUs might have only looked idle. What about running some kind of
CPU-bound benchmark on the other CPUs and testing the completion time
with and without the process running the membarrier loop?

> > - Rather than groveling through runqueues, could you somehow remotely
> > check the value of current? In theory, a race in doing so wouldn't
> > matter; finding something other than the current process should mean
> > you don't need to do a barrier, and finding the current process means
> > you might need to do a barrier.
>
> Well, the thing is that sending an IPI to all processors can be done
> very efficiently on a lot of architectures because it uses an IPI
> broadcast. If we have to select a few processors to which we send the
> signal individually, I fear that the solution will scale poorly on
> systems where cpus are densely used by threads belonging to the current
> process.

Assuming the system doesn't have some kind of "broadcast with mask" IPI,
yeah.

But it seems OK to make writers not scale quite as well, as long as
readers continue to scale OK and unrelated processes don't get impacted.

> So if we go down the route of sending an IPI broadcast as I did, then
> the performance improvement of skipping the smp_mb() for some CPU seems
> insignificant compared to the IPI. In addition, it would require to add
> some preparation code and exchange cache-lines (containing the process
> ID), which would actually slow down the non-parallel portion of the
> system call (to accelerate the parallelizable portion on only some of
> the CPUs).


> > - Part of me thinks this ought to become slightly more general, and just
> > deliver a signal that the receiving thread could handle as it likes.
> > However, that would certainly prove more expensive than this, and I
> > don't know that the generality would buy anything.
>
> A general scheme would have to call every threads, even those which are
> not running. In the case of this system call, this is a particular case
> where we can forget about non-running threads, because the memory
> barrier is implied by the scheduler activity that brought them offline.
> So I really don't see how we can use this IPI scheme for other things
> that this kind of synchronization.

No, I don't mean non-running threads. If you wanted that, you could do
what urcu currently does, and send a signal to all threads. I meant
something like "signal all *running* threads from my process".

> > - Could you somehow register reader threads with the kernel, in a way
> > that makes them easy to detect remotely?
>
> There are two ways I figure out we could do this. One would imply adding
> extra shared data between kernel and userspace (which I'd like to avoid,
> to keep coupling low). The other alternative would be to add per
> task_struct information about this, and new system calls. The added per
> task_struct information would use up cache lines (which are very
> important, especially in the task_struct) and the added system call at
> rcu_read_lock/unlock() would simply kill performance.

No, I didn't mean that you would do a syscall in rcu_read_{lock,unlock}.
I meant that you would do a system call when the reader threads start,
saying "hey, reader thread here".
- Josh Triplett


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