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

Gregg Wonderly gergg at cox.net
Sat May 27 21:27:26 EDT 2017

> On May 26, 2017, at 10:05 AM, Andrew Haley <aph at redhat.com> wrote:
> On 26/05/17 14:56, Doug Lea wrote:
>> On 05/26/2017 09:35 AM, Andrew Haley wrote:
>>> On 26/05/17 13:56, Andrew Dinn wrote:
>>>>> 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?
>> The main issues are not tightly bound to architecture.
>> In the vast majority of cases, the response to CAS failure is
>> some sort of retry (although perhaps with some intermediate
>> processing). The fence here plays a similar role to
>> Thread.onSpinWait. And in fact, on ARM, is likely to be
>> exactly the same implementation as onSpinWait.
> onSpinWait is null, and unless ARM does something to the architecture
> that's probably what it'll remain.
>> As Alex mentioned, in the uncommon cases where this
>> is a performance issue, people can use one of the weak CAS
>> variants.
>>> Just thinking about AArch64, and how to implement such a thing as well
>>> as possible. 
>> "As well as possible" may be just to unconditionally issue fence,
>> at least for plain CAS; maybe differently for the variants.
> I doubt that: I've done some measurements, and it always pays to branch
> conditionally around a fence if it's not needed.

Since the fence is part of the happens before controls that developers encounter, how can a library routine know what the developer needs, to know how to “randomly” optimize with a branch around the fence?  Are you aware of no software that exists where developers are actively counting MM interactions trying to minimize them?  Here you are trying to do it yourself because you “See” an optimization that is so localized, away from any explicit code intent, that you can’t tell ahead of time (during development of your optimization), what other developers have actually done around the fact that this fence was unconditional before right?

Help me understand how you know that no software that works correctly now, will start working randomly, incorrectly, because sometimes the fence never happens.


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