[jmm-dev] weakCompareAndSet memory semantics

David Holmes david.holmes at oracle.com
Mon Apr 25 01:35:23 UTC 2016

On 23/04/2016 5:31 PM, Aleksey Shipilev wrote:
> On 23.04.2016 01:28, David Holmes wrote:
>> Agreed - perfectly valid usecase for weakCAS, and weakCAS has a benefit
>> over CAS. But that is not the inner-loop re-fetch versus outer-loop
>> re-fetch that I was questioning from Aleksey's original email.
> So, it seems like you are questioning the remarks in C++11 standard,
> 29.6.5/25:
> "Remark: A weak compare-and-exchange operation may fail spuriously. That
> is, even when the contents of memory referred to by expected and object
> are equal, it may return false and store back to expected the same
> memory contents that were originally there. [ Note: This spurious
> failure enables implementation of compare-and-exchange on a broader
> class of machines, e.g., load-locked store-conditional machines. A
> consequence of spurious failure is that nearly all uses of weak compare-
> and-exchange will be in a loop. When a compare-and-exchange is in a
> loop, the weak version will yield better performance on some platforms.
> When a weak compare-and-exchange would require a loop and a strong one
> would not, the strong one is preferable. — end note ]"
> Or, in more humane form:
> https://herbsutter.com/2012/08/31/reader-qa-how-to-write-a-cas-loop-using-stdatomics/
> Under heavy contention (which *is* the use case, whether you want it or
> not), the CAS loop performance heavily depends on the width of the
> "collision window" for RMW operation. The wider the gap in-between R-M-W
> operations there, then more chances to fail the impending CAS. This is
> directly measurable even on modern heavily-pipelined x86:
>    https://bugs.openjdk.java.net/browse/JDK-8141640
> ...and looped emulation of strong CAS with LL/SC sets you in the similar
> position, where the excess work within the LL/SC -> CAS emulation widens
> the collision window. It is cheaper to retry in the main loop even on
> spurious failure, because it shortens the collision window. (This is the
> third way I can explain this issue.)

Thanks for expanding on that.


> Thanks,
> -Aleksey

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