multi-core software

George Neuner gneuner2 at comcast.net
Sat Jun 6 21:46:51 CEST 2009


On Fri, 05 Jun 2009 16:26:37 -0700, Roedy Green
<see_website at mindprod.com.invalid> wrote:

>On Fri, 5 Jun 2009 18:15:00 +0000 (UTC), Kaz Kylheku
><kkylheku at gmail.com> wrote, quoted or indirectly quoted someone who
>said :
>
>>Even for problems where it appears trivial, there can be hidden
>>issues, like false cache coherency communication where no actual
>>sharing is taking place. Or locks that appear to have low contention and
>>negligible performance impact on ``only'' 8 processors suddenly turn into
>>bottlenecks. Then there is NUMA. A given address in memory may be
>>RAM attached to the processor accessing it, or to another processor,
>>with very different access costs.
>
>Could what you are saying be summed up by saying, "The more threads
>you have the more important it is to keep your threads independent,
>sharing as little data as possible."

And therein lies the problem of leveraging many cores.  There is a lot
of potential parallelism in programs (even in Java :) that is lost
because it is too fine a grain for threads.  Even the lightest weight
user space ("green") threads need a few hundred instructions, minimum,
to amortize the cost of context switching.

Add to that the fact that programmers have shown themselves, on
average, to be remarkably bad at figuring out what _should_ be done in
parallel - as opposed to what _can_ be done - and you've got a clear
indicator that threads, as we know them, are not scalable except under
a limited set of conditions. 

George



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