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From: Giovanni Piero Deretta (gpderetta_at_[hidden])
Date: 2008-05-29 06:49:19

On Thu, May 29, 2008 at 9:52 AM, vicente.botet <vicente.botet_at_[hidden]> wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Edd Dawson" <lists_at_[hidden]>
> To: <boost_at_[hidden]>
> Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 8:06 PM
> Subject: Re: [boost] Non pre-emptible Boost.Thread
>> On 26 May 2008, at 08:13, Ioannis Papadopoulos wrote:
>>> Edd Dawson wrote:
>>>> Hello,
>>>> A while ago, I implemented the Boost.Thread API in terms of Windows
>>>> Fibers and <uncontext.h> functionality. The result is the ability to
>>>> run code written with boost threads in a single OS thread.
>>>> I find it useful for writing tests where determinism is important
>>>> i.e.
>>>> to test algorithmic correctness in isolation from synchronization-
>>>> related concerns.
>>>> I haven't updated it to mirror the new 1.35 API yet, but I was
>>>> wondering if any other boost users would be interested in this or if
>>>> it might be thought suitable for inclusion in the boost library
>>>> collection.
>>> So what exactly is the status of the library?
>> It compiles and works on the systems listed on my webpage. I can
>> replace all my code that uses boost threads very easily (i.e. by
>> changing compiler/linker include and library search directories). The
>> API still mirrors version 1.34 of Boost.Thread, however.
>>> And how much different
>>> would it be from recompiling Boost.Thread with pth
>>> (
>> No different. Except it would work on Windows, whereas a pth-based
>> implementation of Boost.Thread wouldn't (AFAICT).

IIRC pth works on Windows too.

I'll try to reply to some of your questions even if I'm not the author
of the library, based on my experience with boost coroutines.

> Hello,
> The fact that your library mimics the Boost.Thread (1.34) interface is a
> good thing. Do you plan to move to the 1.35 interface? If yes, will you
> allow thread interruption?
> I think however that limiting the utility of your library to making easier
> the writing of tests where determinism is important is not enough.
> Non-preemptible threads have its application domain on its own.
> * non preemtible threads could increases the responsiveness and concurrency
> of an event-driven application because no time slicing.

But you also need asynchronous system call support. Fortunately Boost
already has it, it is called Asio :)

> * the critical sections needing some kind of synchronization are rare

In fact you need no critical sections. You just need not to voluntary
give up the timeslice as long as an invariant does not hold.

> Can an application needing only non-preemptible threads, perform better with
> your library than its preemptive Boost.Thread counterpart?

If it doesn't do any blocking system call *and* the machine as only
one cpu, certainly yes. Of course this beg the question of why the
application was multithreaded in the first place. An application
specifically designed for cooperative multitasking is another thing of

> Can an application needing only non-preemptible and preemptible threads,
> perform better if we use your library for the non-preemptible threads and
> Boost.Thread for the others?

Probably. Remember that in general, without compiler/system support is
hard to support moving a non preemptible thread (i.e. a continuation),
from an underlying kernel thread to another.

> There are two functions that I would like to see in your library suspend()
> and resume(). Do you think that this represent a big development?
> Do your library manages with errno?

It probably doesn't need to. If you need to read errno value, remember
to do it before the next preemption point.

> If I have understood, all the non-preemtible threads are attached to the
> same scheduler, there is only one static scheduler. I was wondering if it
> will be possible to make the scheduler a thread specific storage of a
> preemptible Boost.Thread and attach the construction of non-preemptible
> threads to this specific scheduler.

In general yes. for example for Boost.Coroutines you can use Asio
io_service as the scheduler and you can have one io_service per kernel
thread. Every kernel thread will schedule its own set of coroutines.

IMHO, to be more flexible, the scheduler should be application
specific and not be part of a general solution. For many applications
Asio io_service will work well.

> Do you think that we can have a common user space context which can be used
> by your library and the Boost/Coroutine library, and why not by other boost
> libraries or the users themself for implementing their own simple user-space
> context switch? Edd, Giovanni, what do you think?

I hope so. I've refactored coroutine's context as a (one shot)
continuation, which should be usable as a generalized non local
control flow abstraction.

BTW, I was thinking of adding a task based interface on top of
continuations in addition of a coroutine interface. Of course Edd's
library would also work as well.


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