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SubjectRFC: Ideal Adaptive Spinning Conditions
I'm looking at some adaptive spinning with futexes as a way to help 
reduce the dependence on sched_yield() to implement userspace spinlocks.
Chris, I included you in the CC after reading your comments regarding
sched_yield() at kernel summit and I thought you might be interested.

I have an experimental patchset that implements FUTEX_LOCK and
FUTEX_LOCK_ADAPTIVE in the kernel and use something akin to
mutex_spin_on_owner() for the first waiter to spin. What I'm finding is
that adaptive spinning actually hurts my particular test case, so I was
hoping to poll people for context regarding the existing adaptive
spinning implementations in the kernel as to where we see benefit. Under
which conditions does adaptive spinning help?

I presume locks with a short average hold time stand to gain the most as
the longer the lock is held the more likely the spinner will expire its
timeslice or that the scheduling gain becomes noise in the acquisition
time. My test case simple calls "lock();unlock()" for a fixed number of
iterations and reports the iterations per second at the end of the run.
It can run with an arbitrary number of threads as well. I typically run
with 256 threads for 10M iterations.

futex_lock: Result: 635 Kiter/s
futex_lock_adaptive: Result: 542 Kiter/s

I've limited the number of spinners to 1 but feel that perhaps this
should be configurable as locks with very short hold times could benefit
from up to NR_CPUS-1 spinners.

I'd really appreciate any data, just general insight, you may have
acquired while implementing adaptive spinning for rt-mutexes and
mutexes. Open questions for me regarding conditions where adaptive
spinning helps are:

o What type of lock hold times do we expect to benefit?
o How much contention is a good match for adaptive spinning?
- this is related to the number of threads to run in the test
o How many spinners should be allowed?

I can share the kernel patches if people are interested, but they are
really early, and I'm not sure they are of much value until I better
understand the conditions where this is expected to be useful.


Darren Hart
IBM Linux Technology Center
Real-Time Linux Team

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