[Cython] Acquisition counted cdef classes

Stefan Behnel stefan_ml at behnel.de
Tue Oct 25 16:37:24 CEST 2011

Dag Sverre Seljebotn, 25.10.2011 15:28:
> On 10/25/2011 09:33 AM, Stefan Behnel wrote:
>> mark florisson, 24.10.2011 21:50:
>>> All of this functionality should also get a sane C API (to be provided
>>> by cython.h). You'd get a Cy_INCREF(obj, have_gil)/Cy_DECREF() etc.
>>> Every class using this functionality is a subclass of CythonObject
>>> (that contains a PyObject + an acquisition count + a lock). Perhaps if
>>> the user is subclassing something other than object we could allow the
>>> user to specify custom __cython_(un)lock__ and
>>> __cython_acquisition_count__ methods and fields.
>>> Now, building on top of this functionality, Cython could provide
>>> built-in nogil-compatible types, like lists, dicts and maybe tuples
>>> (as a start). These will by default not lock for operations to allow
>>> e.g. one thread to iterate over the list and another thread to index
>>> it without lock contention and other general overhead. If one thread
>>> is somehow changing the size of the list, or writing to indices that
>>> another thread is reading from/writing to, the results will of course
>>> be undefined unless the user synchronizes on the object. So it would
>>> be the user's responsibility. The acquisition counting itself will
>>> always be thread-safe (i.e., it will be atomic if possible, otherwise
>>> it will lock).
>>> It's probably best to not enable this functionality by default as it
>>> would be more expensive to instantiate objects, but it could be
>>> supported through a cdef class decorator and a general directive.
>> It's well known that this would be expensive. One of the approaches that
>> tried to get rid of the GIL in CPython introduced fine grained locking,
>> and it turned out to be substantially slower, AFAIR by a factor of two.
> I'd gladly take a factor two (or even four) slowdown of CPython code any
> day to get rid of the GIL :-). The thing is, sometimes one has 48 cores and
> consider a 10x speedup better than nothing...

Ah, sorry, that factor was for single-threaded code. How it would scale for 
multi-core code depends on too many factors to make any general statement.


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