[concurrency-interest] Make the double-checked lock idiom broken on x86

Alex Otenko oleksandr.otenko at gmail.com
Mon May 8 08:00:56 EDT 2017

No, I mean that the VM + execution environment may no longer produce the same side-effects that would quickly fail the reproducer in the olden days - so the published reproducer would need modification to demonstrate the problem on the modern hardware and the VM.

For example, if the cost of synchronized is totally different, the threads no longer race in a way they used to. Suppose, the locks are biased now - one thread does the job, the rest of the threads are catching up, and after upgrade of the lock they all have to yield. When they wake up, the race effects are gone. So one thread does the job, and the others sleep.

Not saying that’s what happens, but just to give an idea how the evolution of the JVM could affect the reproducer (but not the claim).


> On 8 May 2017, at 19:56, Yubin Ruan <ablacktshirt at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, May 08, 2017 at 09:55:53AM +0100, Alex Otenko wrote:
>> I’d start with using the same version and brand of the JVM Bill used at the time of writing the article, which was probably written over 15 years ago.
> Hmm...You mean what he said is not correct now? We don't need the `volatile'
> keyword?
> --
> Yubin
>>> On 8 May 2017, at 15:22, Yubin Ruan <ablacktshirt at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Hi, from Bill Pugh's website[1] I read that the double-checked lock idiom is
>>> broken. Bill Pugh gave an example:
>>>   // Broken multithreaded version
>>>   // "Double-Checked Locking" idiom
>>>   class Foo { 
>>>     private Helper helper = null;
>>>     public Helper getHelper() {
>>>       if (helper == null) 
>>>         synchronized(this) {
>>>           if (helper == null) 
>>>             helper = new Helper();
>>>       }    
>>>       return helper;
>>>     }
>>>     // other functions and members...
>>>   }
>>> His analysis is convincing, but the code he gave[2] work *well* on x86.
>>> That is expected to break sometimes. But, running it from time to time,
>>> I never see it break.
>>> How to verify that the double-check lock idiom will break on x86?
>>> ---
>>> Yubin
>>> [1]: https://www.cs.umd.edu/~pugh/java/memoryModel/DoubleCheckedLocking.html
>>> [2]: https://www.cs.umd.edu/~pugh/java/memoryModel/DoubleCheckTest.java
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