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Anonymous Readers Counting: A Wait-Free Multi-Word Atomic Register Algorithm for Scalable Data Sharing on Multi-Core Machines (01a Articolo in rivista)

Ianni Mauro, Pellegrini Alessandro, Quaglia Francesco

In this article we present Anonymous Readers Counting (ARC), a multi-word atomic (1,N) register algorithm for multi-core machines. ARC exploits Read-Modify-Write (RMW) instructions to coordinate the writer and reader threads in a wait-free manner and enables large-scale data sharing by admitting up to (232-2) concurrent readers on off-the-shelf 64-bit machines, as opposed to the most advanced RMW-based approach which is limited to 58 readers on the same kind of machines. Further, ARC avoids multiple copies of the register content when accessing it - this is a problem that affects classical register algorithms based on atomic read/write operations on single words. Thus it allows for higher scalability with respect to the register size. Moreover, ARC explicitly reduces the overall power consumption, via a proper limitation of RMW instructions in case of read operations re-accessing a still-valid snapshot of the register content, and by showing constant time for read operations and amortized constant time for write operations. Our proposal has therefore a strong focus on real-world off-the-shelf architectures, allowing us to capture properties which benefit both performance and power consumption. A proof of correctness of our register algorithm is also provided, together with experimental data for a comparison with literature proposals. Beyond assessing ARC on physical platforms, we carry out as well an experimentation on virtualized infrastructures, which shows the resilience of wait-free synchronization as provided by ARC with respect to CPU-steal times, proper of modern paradigms such as cloud computing. Finally, we discuss how to extend ARC for scenarios with multiple writers and multiple readers - the so called (M,N) register. This is achieved not by changing the operations (and their wait-free nature) executed along the critical path of the threads, rather only changing the ratio between the number of buffers keeping the register snapshots and the number of threads to coordinate, as well as the number of bits used for counting readers within a 64-bit mask accessed via RMW instructions - just depending on the target balance between the number of readers and the number of writers to be supported.
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