[Python-Dev] "Fixing" the new GIL

Peter Portante peter.a.portante at gmail.com
Tue Mar 16 20:22:34 CET 2010

Yes, having another thread wait with a timeout is not good. CPU cycles
waisted doing things that don¹t help the thread holding the GIL release it.
They just note that they are present and then the GIL-holding-thread should
be responsible for handling the rest. -peter

On 3/16/10 1:11 PM, "Nir Aides" <nir at winpdb.org> wrote:

> Hello Dave, 
> The following documentation suggests ordering in Linux is not FIFO:
> http://www.opengroup.org/onlinepubs/000095399/functions/pthread_cond_timedwait
> .html#tag_03_518_08_06
> "Threads waiting on mutexes and condition variables are selected to proceed in
> an order dependent upon the scheduling policy rather than in some fixed order
> (for example, FIFO or priority). Thus, the scheduling policy determines which
> thread(s) are awakened and allowed to proceed."
> Here is the code:
> http://www.google.com/codesearch/p?hl=en#5ge3gHPB4K4/gnu/glibc/glibc-linuxthre
> ads-2.1.1.tar.gz%7CaeB7Uqo7T9g/linuxthreads/queue.h&q=pthread_cond_timedwait&e
> xact_package=http://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/glibc/glibc-linuxthreads-2.1.1.tar.gz
> If this is so then it should affect the proposed fixes. 
> For example waiting with timeout should be avoided, no?
> Nir
> 2010/3/16 David Beazley <dave at dabeaz.com>
>> Python doesn't use a pthreads mutex for the GIL.    It has always used a
>> binary semaphore implemented with condition variables (or just a pthreads
>> semaphore if available).    The reason the performance is so bad is precisely
>> due to the fact that it is using this implementation and the fact that there
>> *IS* a FIFO queue of threads (associated with the condition variable).   The
>> I/O performance problem with the new GIL is gets much worse with many
>> CPU-bound threads precisely because there is a FIFO queue involved.   This
>> has been covered in my past GIL presentations.
>> -Dave
>> On Mar 16, 2010, at 5:52 AM, Kristján Valur Jónsson wrote:
>>> > How about attacking the original problem, then?
>>> >
>>> > The reason they thrash on pthreads implementation is that a pthreads mutex
>>> is assumed to be a short-held resource.  Therefore it will be optimized in
>>> the following ways for multicore machines:
>>> > 1) There is a certain amount of spinning done, to try to acquire it before
>>> blocking
>>> > 2) It will employ un-fair tactics to avoid lock-convoying, meaning that a
>>> thread coming in to acquire the mutex may get in before others that are
>>> queued.  This is why "ticking" the GIL works so badly:  The thread that
>>> releases the lock is usually the one that reaquires it even though others
>>> may be waiting.  See e.g.
>>> http://www.bluebytesoftware.com/blog/PermaLink,guid,e40c2675-43a3-410f-8f85-
>>> 616ef7b031aa.aspx for a discussion of this (albeit on windows.)
>>> >
>>> > On Windows, this isn't a problem.  The reason is, that the GIL on windows
>>> is implemented using Event objects that don't cut these corners.  The Event
>>> provides you with a strict FIFO queue of objects waiting for the event.
>>> >
>>> > If pthreads doesn't provide a synchronization primitive similar to that,
>>> someone that doesn't thrash and has a true FIFO queue, it is possible to
>>> construct such a thing using condition variables and critical sections.
>>>  Perhaps the posix semaphore api is more appropriate in this case.
>>> >
>>> > By the way, this also shows another problem with (old) python.  There is
>>> only one core locking primitive, the PyThread_type_lock.  It is being used
>>> both as a critical section in the traditional sense, and also as this
>>> sort-of-inverse lock that the GIL is.  In the modern world, where the
>>> intended behaviour of these is quite different, there is no one-size-fits
>>> all.  On windows in particular, the use of the Event object based lock is
>>> not ideal for other uses than the GIL.
>>> >
>>> >
>>> > In the new GIL, there appear to be several problems:
>>> > 1) There is no FIFO queue of threads wanting the queue, thus thread
>>> scheduling becomes non-deterministic
>>> > 2) The "ticking" of the GIL is now controled by a condition variable
>>> timeout.  There appears to be no way to prevent many such timeouts to be in
>>> progress at the same time, thus you may have an unnecessarily high rate of
>>> ticking going on.
>>> > 3) There isn't an immediate gil request made when an IO thread requests
>>> the gil back, only after an initial timeout.
>>> >
>>> > What we are trying to write here is a thread scheduler, and that is
>>> complex business.
>>> > K
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >
>>>> >> -----Original Message-----
>>>> >> From: python-dev-bounces+kristjan=ccpgames.com <http://ccpgames.com>
>>>> @python.org <http://python.org>
>>>> >> [mailto:python-dev-bounces+kristjan
>>>> <mailto:python-dev-bounces%2Bkristjan> =ccpgames.com <http://ccpgames.com>
>>>> @python.org <http://python.org> ] On Behalf
>>>> >> Of David Beazley
>>>> >> Sent: 15. mars 2010 03:07
>>>> >> To: python-dev at python.org
>>>> >> Subject: Re: [Python-Dev] "Fixing" the new GIL
>>>> >>
>>>> >> happen to be performing CPU intensive work at the same time, it would
>>>> >> be nice if they didn't thrash on multiple cores (the problem with the
>>>> >> old GIL) and if I/O is
>>> >
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