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LFthreads: a lock-free thread library


Gidenstam,  Anders
Algorithms and Complexity, MPI for Informatics, Max Planck Society;

Papatriantafilou,  Marina
Algorithms and Complexity, MPI for Informatics, Max Planck Society;

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Gidenstam, A., & Papatriantafilou, M.(2007). LFthreads: a lock-free thread library (MPI-I-2007-1-003). Saarbrücken: Max-Planck-Institut für Informatik.

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This paper presents the synchronization in LFthreads, a thread library entirely based on lock-free methods, i.e. no spin-locks or similar synchronization mechanisms are employed in the implementation of the multithreading. Since lock-freedom is highly desirable in multiprocessors/multicores due to its advantages in parallelism, fault-tolerance, convoy-avoidance and more, there is an increased demand in lock-free methods in parallel applications, hence also in multiprocessor/multicore system services. This is why a lock-free multithreading library is important. To the best of our knowledge LFthreads is the first thread library that provides a lock-free implementation of blocking synchronization primitives for application threads. Lock-free implementation of objects with blocking semantics may sound like a contradicting goal. However, such objects have benefits: e.g. library operations that block and unblock threads on the same synchronization object can make progress in parallel while maintaining the desired thread-level semantics and without having to wait for any ``slow'' operations among them. Besides, as no spin-locks or similar synchronization mechanisms are employed, processors are always able to do useful work. As a consequence, applications, too, can enjoy enhanced parallelism and fault-tolerance. The synchronization in LFthreads is achieved by a new method, which we call responsibility hand-off (RHO), that does not need any special kernel support.