VarHandles & LMAX Disruptor

Paul Sandoz paul.sandoz at
Mon Jul 27 15:58:04 UTC 2015

Hi Mike,

Thanks for doing this! LMAX was on my radar to try out as i suspected it would likely be very sensitive to any changes, perhaps especially so for array bounds checks.

I believe code in RingBuffer was using Unsafe to avoid bounds checks, correct? if so I wonder if the patch in would help with strength reducing such checks? I don’t know if that patch also works with a constant offset as used in RingBufferFields, but it should work for MultiProducerSequencer. The patch should apply cleanly to the VarHandles branch in the sandbox if you want to try it out.

Ideally what you also need is a public equivalent of @Contended that also supports arrays, that would make the code a little cleaner, but would be a separate project :-)

On 25 Jul 2015, at 04:29, Michael Barker <mikeb01 at> wrote:

> Hi,
> I've just ported the Disruptor across from Unsafe to VarHandles[0].
> Initially I ran into a whole bunch of issues, but after some time digging
> realised that they were all of my own making.  All of my unit tests pass
> and the performance tests I've run show very similar results.  I think
> there is a small slowdown (maybe a few %) with VarHandles, but my laptop
> has a high run to run variance so I can't really be sure until I do some
> testing on a more stable platform.  Even if that is the case, that level is
> tolerable and I'll most likely release and use internally the VarHandles
> implementation when JDK9 is available.
> Excellent work, thanks to Paul Sandoz (and anyone else who worked on the
> implementation) and Alesky Shiplev for the sandbox instructions.

Also a big thanks to Aleksey who is also working on the implementation and performance measurements.


> Couple of notes:
> - The Disruptor is not a heavy (ab)user of the Unsafe - there's no off heap
> stuff there.  The use cases were primarily avoiding the additional costs of
> AtomicIntArray and AtomicLongFieldUpdater.
> - I'm a big fan of the style of the API where the use of a concurrent
> operation is visible at the call site.  I think this improves readability
> and makes it easier to reason about concurrent code.  Having to jump to the
> type declaration to figure out if an assignment operation can affect the
> visibility/ordering of the code around it increases cognitive load.
> - I think VarHandle.set/get should be called setRelaxed/getRelaxed as it
> would make it more obvious to a user and a reader what those methods are
> going to do.  My initial assumption was that they were no different from a
> normal write/read of a field.
> Mike.
> [0]

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