[concurrency-interest] AtomicReference.updateAndGet() mandatory updating

Gil Tene gil at azul.com
Fri May 26 11:19:38 EDT 2017

Sent from Gil's iPhone

> On May 26, 2017, at 7:07 AM, Andrew Dinn <adinn at redhat.com> wrote:
>> On 26/05/17 14:35, Andrew Haley wrote:
>>> On 26/05/17 13:56, Andrew Dinn wrote:
>>>> On 26/05/17 13:46, Doug Lea wrote:
>>>> On 05/26/2017 04:44 AM, Andrew Haley wrote:
>>>>>> a compareAndSet has the memory semantics of a volatile
>>>>>> write regardless of whether or not the write occurred. 
>>>>> That property of compareAndSet is very ugly, and is a pain to
>>>>> implement. Most of the CAS instructions I know about don't have such
>>>>> a property, and making it work requires either an unconditional full
>>>>> fence after every CAS or a conditional one if it fails.  Either way
>>>>> sucks mightily and is unlikely to be useful except in the most
>>>>> pathological cases.
>>>> Initially (in Java5) requiring it has led to some questionable reliance.
>>>> So we cannot change it. But there's not much motivation to do so anyway:
>>>> As implied by Nathan Reynolds, encountering some (local) fence overhead
>>>> on CAS failure typically reduces contention and may improve throughput.
>>> It would be useful to know if that reduction in contention is specific
>>> to, say, x86 hardware or also occurs on weak memory architectures like
>>> AArch64 or ppc. Perhaps Nathan could clarify that?
>> Just thinking about AArch64, and how to implement such a thing as well
>> as possible.  We can't do a store release to the variable involved in
>> the CAS, but perhaps we could do a store release to something local to
>> the thread.  That would be better than a full fence, which would be
>> overkill for this purpose.  Unlike x86 we can't do an access outside
>> the stack.  I'm trying to think of something in memory, probably in
>> the local cache, that can be clobbered, but nothing comes to mind.
>> OK, here's a mad idea: we could allocate an extra stack slot in a
>> method which uses
> Would a store release into a dummy field of the JavaThread instance be
> better? This would avoid wasting stack space.

I believe that making the hardware perform a store release [or equivalent] to a different location is not sufficient to emulate a volatile write's memory semantics, since it e.g. does not prevent subsequent volatile loads of other fields from floating backwards past the store release point, and then e.g. past prior non-volatile stores to the compareAndSet'ed field.

Basically, there is no StoreLoad ordering [that is required to be] enforced on the hardware by a store release, which makes it insufficient.

Unfortunately, to provide the spec'ed (and the often expected by lay people) behavior, you need to force the hardware to impose a StoreLoad order with the compareAndSet even if the CAS instruction never wrote. If the hardware does not do that in a compare-failing CAS instruction, the code surrounding the CAS obstruction needs to...
> regards,
> Andrew Dinn
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