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From "Weldon Washburn" <weldon...@gmail.com>
Subject [drlvm][threading] a description of thread suspension race conditions plus initial ideas on how to fix
Date Sun, 19 Aug 2007 14:54:19 GMT

Four things.

I put a description of thread suspension race conditions in
harmony-4644, HarmonyJVM_Thread_State_Diagrams.ppt.  If the analysis
is correct, there is a race condition where the suspend request thread
can see a stale value of the target thread's disable_count.  In other
words, the suspend request thread can set the target thread->request
field to true then (accidentally) read a stale value of
thread->disable_count.  The stale value misleads the requestor thread
to think it is OK to enumerate the target's stack.

Below is rough code that shows an algorithm that might fix the above
problem.  The concept is to attempt to repair the existing code base
rather than a complete redesign.  Basically the idea is that the
target thread will set disable_count = 1 *before* it checks
thread->request.  And the suspension requestor thread needs to wait
for the HW store buffer to drain.  I do not know of any HW
architectural guarantees on the maximum clock cycles to drain the
store buffer.  I made an intial guess of 300Msec.  It may be that
30msec is sufficient for many generations of future HW.  I simply do
not know at this point.  Please see the below code for more details.
(Even more details are in harmony-4644,  AAA_thread_suspension.cpp.)

A question for GC folks.  What is the maximum sleep() time in the
below code that is acceptable?  Note that for GC suspending a single
thread, we always need to wait for the HW store buffer to drain.
However for stop-the-world GC, we do not neccessarily have to wait for
each target thread's store buffer to drain. We can set thread->request
on all threads, then do a single sleep(xx msec) to ensure the store
buffers have drained.

Next steps -- clean up the below suspension kernel and run experiments
on 4-way SMP to look for race conditions.  I hope to do this today.


void mutator__hythread_suspend_disable()
    hythread_t self = get_TLS_thread();

    // the following write will slowly dribble out to the coherency domain
    // we could add an mfence but this would slow down
hythread_suspend_disable() execution (bad idea)
    // instead of an mfence() in the target thread, we sleep 300msec
in the requestor thread to
    // allow the mutator's HW store buffer to empty

    if (self->disable_count == 1) {
        if (readLocation(&self->request) ) {

            self->disable_count = 0;
            self->now_blocked_at_disable_count_0_to_1 = true;

            while (self->j_l_t_suspend_request || self->gc_suspend_request) {
                // put a timeout to ensure a missed semaphore set does not
                // hang the system (graceful degradation)
                status = hysem_wait(self->resume_event, timout_3000msec);
                if (status == timeout && self->gc_suspend_request) log
a warning/diagnostic somewhere

            self->disable_count = 1;
            self->now_blocked_at_disable_count_0_to_1 = false;
        else {
            // intentionally do nothing
            // eventually disable_count going from 0 to 1 will make it
into the coherency domain

void hythread_suspend_other(hythread_t thread, suspend_t kind)
    if (kind == J_L_T_SUSPEND) {
        if (thread->j_l_t_suspend_request == true) return;  //its
already been dealt with
        thread->j_l_t_suspend_request = true;
    } else {
        assert(kind == GCSUSPEND);
        // only allow one GC at a time for now
        assert(thread->gc_suspend_request = false);
        thread->gc_suspend_request = true;

    // if the target thread just did a "disable_count = 1", the below
sleep will allow
    // enough time so that the target thread's HW store buffer will
empty into the
    // coherency domain

    //we now know we are not fetching stale version of disable_count
from coherency domain
    while (readLocation(&thread->disable_count) != 0) {
    if ( (thread->now_blocked_at_back_branch == 0) &&
        (thread->now_blocked_at_disable_count_0_to_1 == 0) ) {

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