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Re: The direction of malloc?

On Tue, 2013-12-10 at 22:05 +0100, OndÅej BÃlka wrote:
> We have fastbins that sorta do this but with several problems. 
> 1. They are not really lockless, for malloc they need a lock, only
> freeing will be when bug 15073 gets fixed.

Note that *properly tuned* locks can be as fast as lock-less code in
several cases.  When you use a, say, stock PTHREAD_MUTEX_NORMAL lock,
this won't be well-suited to short critical sections because it doesn't
spin.  PTHREAD_MUTEX_ADAPTIVE_NP spins, but the number of spinning
iterations seems to be an arbitrary choice, and isn't very useful in my
experiments so far.  Also, there's no back-off whatsoever in the

Before going off into replacing a concurrent code using our stock locks
with a concurrent code that is lockless, I'd suggest trying different(ly
tuned) locks first.  Probably start with a full spinlock, and add some
back-off to try get the cache misses down.

If the concurrent code is mostly running on it's own, an efficient lock
implementation can be faster than an equivalent lockless
implementations, especially if all calls are modifying memory anyway and
don't just need to read many things not protected by a single lock also
protecting the data that needs to be modified.

> Second problem is that fastbins are per-arena not per-thread which
> forces us to use atomic operations. These are expensive (typicaly more than 50 cycles).

Especially on x86, atomic operations that *hit in the cache* have become
very fast compared to their costs in the past.  I don't have current
numbers, but I believe the 50 cycle number is too high; I vaguely
remember 10-20.

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