mutex ] rebus: 3designs #RCU #CSY #80%

Requirement: Each worker thread operates independently on its own symbols, never interfering. Admin thread may read/write all symbols.

My friend CSY’s design resembles ConcurrentHashMap — split a big “graph-container” into 32 independent sub-graphs, to be locked individually.

For my 1st design, I briefly considered one lock per symbol. I think 100,000 locks is fine if symbols are consecutive integers. I simply use a symbol as array index to locate the corresponding lock. Every worker thread and the admin thread need to acquire the lock for symbol X before updating the AVL tree of X.

— Here’s my 2nd design, based on a single global lock:

  • Regular writer threads only checksnever acquires, the lock. If lock is in-use (i.e. taken by the admin thread) then wait in a 1-second-sleep loop.
  • admin thread immediately and unconditionally takes the lock and wait for a grace period[1] before writing. I assume this “write” can take up to 1 minute.
  • how to “check” the lock?
    • TryLock solution [Design#1] — Just trylock and immediately unlock.
    • LockFree solution [Design #2] — atomic boolean to be set only on the admin thread. I think this is one the simplest usage scenarios of atomic boolean. We are not even relying on the atomicity. We only need the visibility feature.

[1] This grace period is designed to be sufficient for a batch of updates on the worker thread. If we know a batch can write 100 orders and take X microsecond, then set grace period to X. We require worker routine to recheck the lock after each batch.

My friend CSY raised the concern that mid-stream the update could be suspended by kernel scheduler. I think in this case, a simple integer update could take ages, as in the GC stop-the-world scenario. So the design requires some realtime kernel support to guarantee timely response.

read-copy-update lockfree +! retry #RCU mentions a grace period used in RCU api

— Here’s a bigger lockfree design [Design #3]

  • without realtime kernel
  • Two global variables — in addition to the atomic boolean flag, I will add an atomic int “activeWorkerCnt”
  • Two non-reentrant routines (to avoid incremental acquisition)
Worker threads routine:
1. check the flag until it’s false
2. increment activeWorkerCnt
3. update data store
4. decrement activeWorkerCnt
Admin thread routine:
1. unconditionally set the flat # rejecting all new workers
2. while activeWorkerCnt > 0
2.   sleep 1 millisecond
2. ## draining the active worker pools
3. update data store
4. unset the flag


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