Follow @Openwall on Twitter for new release announcements and other news
[<prev] [next>] [<thread-prev] [thread-next>] [day] [month] [year] [list]
Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2014 17:18:37 -0400
From: Rich Felker <>
Subject: Re: Explaining cond var destroy [Re: C threads, v3.0]

On Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 09:09:21PM +0200, Jens Gustedt wrote:
> Rich,
> thanks a lot for looking into the code.
> Am Dienstag, den 12.08.2014, 12:01 -0400 schrieb Rich Felker:
> > As far as I can tell, the only thing that's saving you from sending
> > futex wakes after free is that you're just using spinlocks.
> No, I don't think so. These protect critical sections at the beginning
> of the cnd_t calls. The cnd_*wait calls hold the mutex at that time
> anyhow, so even if these would be implemented with mutexes (an extra
> one per cnd_t to protect the critical section) this wouldn't cause
> late wakes, I think.

I was talking about the unref-and-free code that's using spinlocks. If
it were using mutexes that don't protect against making futex wake
calls after the atomic unlock, a previous unref could send the wake
after the final one freed the object. So in effect, if you use a mutex
here, I think the wake-after-free issue has just been moved to a
different object, not solved.

> > This is an
> > extremely expensive solution: While contention is rare, as soon as you
> > do hit contention, if there are many threads they all pile on and
> > start spinning, and the time to obtain a lock (and cpu time/energy
> > spent waiting) grows extremely high. And of course it becomes infinite
> > if you have any threads of differing priorities and the low-priority
> > thread has the lock...
> I think you dramatize a bit :)

Perhaps. :)

> It is very unlikely that a thread that reaches the critical section is
> unscheduled *during* that critical section. If it is unscheduled, you
> are right, the wait can be long. But that event is very unlikely, so
> the average time inside the critical section is still short, with a
> probability distribution that is a bit skewed because of the
> outliers.

Yes. The general pathology of spinlocks is that they give extremely
high latency and cpu load in an extremely low probability worst-case.

> (And then there is no concept of different scheduling priorities for C
> threads, all of them are equal.)

Indeed, but there's no reason these functions couldn't end up getting
called from a POSIX program using a C11 library. This is the normal
expected usage for mutexes (i.e. you're writing a library that needs
to be thread-safe but you don't want to depend on POSIX -- in practice
the calling application is unlikely to be using C11 thrd_create
because it sucks :) and perhaps less likely but definitely not
impossible for cond vars.


Powered by blists - more mailing lists

Confused about mailing lists and their use? Read about mailing lists on Wikipedia and check out these guidelines on proper formatting of your messages.