Enhancing the efficiency and practicality of software transactional memory on massively multithreaded systems
ColaboratorCristal Kestelman, Adrián; Unsal, Osman; Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. Departament d'Arquitectura de Computadors
Document typeDoctoral thesis
PublisherUniversitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Rights accessOpen Access
Chip Multithreading (CMT) processors promise to deliver higher performance by running more than one stream of instructions in parallel. To exploit CMT's capabilities, programmers have to parallelize their applications, which is not a trivial task. Transactional Memory (TM) is one of parallel programming models that aims at simplifying synchronization by raising the level of abstraction between semantic atomicity and the means by which that atomicity is achieved. TM is a promising programming model but there are still important challenges that must be addressed to make it more practical and efficient in mainstream parallel programming. The first challenge addressed in this dissertation is that of making the evaluation of TM proposals more solid with realistic TM benchmarks and being able to run the same benchmarks on different STM systems. We first introduce a benchmark suite, RMS-TM, a comprehensive benchmark suite to evaluate HTMs and STMs. RMS-TM consists of seven applications from the Recognition, Mining and Synthesis (RMS) domain that are representative of future workloads. RMS-TM features current TM research issues such as nesting and I/O inside transactions, while also providing various TM characteristics. Most STM systems are implemented as user-level libraries: the programmer is expected to manually instrument not only transaction boundaries, but also individual loads and stores within transactions. This library-based approach is increasingly tedious and error prone and also makes it difficult to make reliable performance comparisons. To enable an "apples-to-apples" performance comparison, we then develop a software layer that allows researchers to test the same applications with interchangeable STM back ends. The second challenge addressed is that of enhancing performance and scalability of TM applications running on aggressive multi-core/multi-threaded processors. Performance and scalability of current TM designs, in particular STM desings, do not always meet the programmer's expectation, especially at scale. To overcome this limitation, we propose a new STM design, STM2, based on an assisted execution model in which time-consuming TM operations are offloaded to auxiliary threads while application threads optimistically perform computation. Surprisingly, our results show that STM2 provides, on average, speedups between 1.8x and 5.2x over state-of-the-art STM systems. On the other hand, we notice that assisted-execution systems may show low processor utilization. To alleviate this problem and to increase the efficiency of STM2, we enriched STM2 with a runtime mechanism that automatically and adaptively detects application and auxiliary threads' computing demands and dynamically partition hardware resources between the pair through the hardware thread prioritization mechanism implemented in POWER machines. The third challenge is to define a notion of what it means for a TM program to be correctly synchronized. The current definition of transactional data race requires all transactions to be totally ordered "as if'' serialized by a global lock, which limits the scalability of TM designs. To remove this constraint, we first propose to relax the current definition of transactional data race to allow a higher level of concurrency. Based on this definition we propose the first practical race detection algorithm for C/C++ applications (TRADE) and implement the corresponding race detection tool. Then, we introduce a new definition of transactional data race that is more intuitive, transparent to the underlying TM implementation, can be used for a broad set of C/C++ TM programs. Based on this new definition, we proposed T-Rex, an efficient and scalable race detection tool for C/C++ TM applications. Using TRADE and T-Rex, we have discovered subtle transactional data races in widely-used STAMP applications which have not been reported in the past.
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