[concurrency-interest] Blocking vs. non-blocking

Dennis Sosnoski dms at sosnoski.com
Fri Jun 13 20:51:58 EDT 2014

On 06/14/2014 11:57 AM, Doug Lea wrote:
> On 06/13/2014 07:35 PM, Dennis Sosnoski wrote:
>> I'm writing an article where I'm discussing both blocking waits and 
>> non-blocking
>> callbacks for handling events. As I see it, there are two main 
>> reasons for
>> preferring non-blocking:
>> 1. Threads are expensive resources (limited to on the order of 10000 
>> per JVM),
>> and tying one up just waiting for an event completion is a waste of 
>> this resource
>> 2. Thread switching adds substantial overhead to the application
>> Are there any other good reasons I'm missing?
> Also memory locality (core X cache effects).

I thought about that, though couldn't come up with any easy way of 
demonstrating the effect. I suppose something more memory-intensive 
would do this - perhaps having a fairly sizable array of values for each 
thread, and having the thread do some computation with those values each 
time it's run.

>> ...
>> So a big drop in performance going from one thread to two, and again 
>> from 2 to
>> 4, but after than just a slowly increasing trend. That's about 19 
>> microseconds
>> per switch with 4096 threads, about half that time for just 2 
>> threads. Do these
>> results make sense to others?
> Your best case of approximately 20 thousand clock cycles is not an
> unexpected result on a single-socket multicore with all cores turned
> on (i.e., no power management, fusing, or clock-step effects)
> and only a few bouncing cachelines.
> We've seen cases of over 1 million cycles to unblock a thread
> in some other cases. (Which can be challenging for us to deal
> with in JDK8 Stream.parallel(). I'll post something on this sometime.)
> Maybe Aleksey can someday arrange to collect believable
> systematic measurements across a few platforms.

The reason for the long delay being cache effects, right? I'll try some 
experiments with associated data per thread to see if I can demonstrate 
this on a small scale.

Thanks for the insights, Doug.

   - Dennis

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