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Subject: Re: [boost] "[gsoc] Thread scheduler support for boost"
From: Hartmut Kaiser (hartmut.kaiser_at_[hidden])
Date: 2009-03-30 05:29:19

> I am following up with the earlier thread on of extending the current
> threadpool library present in boost. The current approach implements
> N:M model by internally using the pthread APIs (pthread_schedule() and
> its related classes). However, for high performance latency sensitive
> application code, we would not only like to parellize but would also
> like to (i) reduce load variance against the threads (ii) create
> asymmetric scheduling: where a set of threads are forced to run on a
> subset of processors (iii) prioritize the tasks amongst threads.. One
> that I am thinking is to create a userland scheduler through which all
> scheduling decisions are made. For OS specific case, the userland
> scheduler can be made to use features exposed by the OS such as
> different scheduling algos, processor affinity,...
> Please let me know if you think that this direction is admissible as a
> plausible extension for the Boost library. I am working on this and
> would be sending you more details on how i think on implementing this.

Sounds good, but very ambitious. As long as you don't want to allow for
yielding in user land, everything is straightforward. But often yielding is
required, which adds complexity quite a bit (you need to start fiddling with
the stack, maintain task dependencies, etc. - think Cilk

An additional source of complexity is synchronization. Once in user land,
you probably don't want to use OS synchronization primitives anymore. It
seems to be appropriate to use (user land) yielding as opposed to (OS based)
blocking, instead. This allows to fill up the allotted (OS thread) time
slice even if a user land thread needs to be yielded. That means such a
library needs a proper set of synchronization primitives to go with
(preferably interface compatible with boost::thread::mutex,

Regards Hartmut

> Regards,
> Indradip.
> > Message: 4
> > Date: Wed, 25 Mar 2009 07:36:12 -0500
> > From: "Hartmut Kaiser" <hartmut.kaiser_at_[hidden]>
> > Subject: Re: [boost] "[gsoc] Thread scheduler support for boost"
> > To: <boost_at_[hidden]>
> > Message-ID: <49ca2540.47c1f10a.61b0.ffffdbac_at_[hidden]>
> > Content-Type: text/plain;       charset="us-ascii"
> >
> >> However, I thought of your suggested extension of threadpool class
> >> exploiting processor affinity techniques and it sounds very
> >> interesting as well but I guess we would run into the same
> portability
> >> issues with regard to availability of the lower level API exposing
> the
> >> hooks to be able to develop such a facility. Another issue would be
> to
> >> qualify and justify how much improvement would this type of
> >> parallelism enable on top of the instruction level parallelism
> already
> >> in place for all modern processors. Although, I would still like to
> >> find out if you have any concrete lead in mind.
> >
> > FWIW, processor affinity is supported on many operating systems, so
> it
> > shouldn't be problematic to come up with a portable implementation.
> > Moreover, I believe Oliver already included something like that into
> his
> > thread_pool library (see, file
> > boost-threadpool.v24.tar.gz).
> >
> >> I know for sure that there are those hard engineering problems in
> high
> >> performance computing domain to ensure QOS guarantees to distributed
> >> real-time embedded systems. They look into processor utilization
> >> optimizations in the face of uncertainty of computational load on
> the
> >> system. These usually require some kind of mathematical validation
> of
> >> the scheme for the system under construction. I guess that would be
> >> beyond the scope of the GSOC project, given the time frame.
> >
> > I'm sure that controlling processor affinity is something to consider
> not
> > only for real time applications or high end computing. With the
> rising
> > number of cores in a chip we need to be able to influence this for
> everyday
> > tasks as well. But that's only IHMO.
> >
> >> M:N type of models would also have the same portability issue as it
> >> requires changing kernel code as well as the userland code in thread
> >> library.
> >
> > You shouldn't shy away of some feature just because Boost requires
> portable
> > implementations. Most of the time this is possible to achieve, as
> modern
> > OS's have very similar functionality, just exposed using different
> API's.
> >
> > Regards Hartmut
> >
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