Techniques to improve concurrency in hardware transactional memory
Chair / Department / Institute
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. Departament d'Arquitectura de Computadors
Document typeDoctoral thesis
PublisherUniversitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Rights accessOpen Access
Transactional Memory (TM) aims to make shared memory parallel programming easier by abstracting away the complexity of managing shared data. The programmer defines sections of code, called transactions, which the TM system guarantees that will execute atomically and in isolation from the rest of the system. The programmer is not required to implement such behaviour, as happens in traditional mutual exclusion techniques like locks - that responsibility is delegated to the underlying TM system. In addition, transactions can exploit parallelism that would not be available in mutual exclusion techniques; this is achieved by allowing optimistic execution assuming no other transaction operates concurrently on the same data. If that assumption is true the transaction commits its updates to shared memory by the end of its execution, otherwise, a conflict occurs and the TM system may abort one of the conflicting transactions to guarantee correctness; the aborted transaction would roll-back its local updates and be re-executed. Hardware and software implementations of TM have been studied in detail. However, large-scale adoption of software-only approaches have been hindered for long due to severe performance limitations. In this thesis, we focus on identifying and solving hardware transactional memory (HTM) issues in order to improve concurrency and scalability. Two key dimensions determine the HTM design space: conflict detection and speculative version management. The first determines how conflicts are detected between concurrent transactions and how to resolve them. The latter defines where transactional updates are stored and how the system deals with two versions of the same logical data. This thesis proposes a flexible mechanism that allows efficient storage and access to two versions of the same logical data, improving overall system performance and energy efficiency. Additionally, in this thesis we explore two solutions to reduce system contention - circumstances where transactions abort due to data dependencies - in order to improve concurrency of HTM systems. The first mechanism provides a suitable design to apply prefetching to speed-up transaction executions, lowering the window of time in which such transactions can experience contention. The second is an accurate abort prediction mechanism able to identify, before a transaction's execution, potential conflicts with running transactions. This mechanism uses past behaviour of transactions and locality in memory references to infer predictions, adapting to variations in workload characteristics. We demonstrate that this mechanism is able to manage contention efficiently in single-application and multi-application scenarios. Finally, this thesis also analyses initial real-world HTM protocols that recently appeared in market products. These protocols have been designed to be simple and easy to incorporate in existing chip-multiprocessors. However, this simplicity comes at the cost of severe performance degradation due to transient and persistent livelock conditions, potentially preventing forward progress. We show that existing techniques are unable to mitigate this degradation effectively. To deal with this issue we propose a set of techniques that retain the simplicity of the protocol while providing improved performance and forward progress guarantees in a wide variety of transactional workloads.
CitationArmejach Sanosa, A. "Techniques to improve concurrency in hardware transactional memory". Tesi doctoral, UPC, Departament d'Arquitectura de Computadors, 2014. Available at: <http://hdl.handle.net/2117/95386>