multi-core software

Jon Harrop jon at
Sun Jun 7 11:20:56 EDT 2009

George Neuner wrote:
> On Fri, 05 Jun 2009 16:26:37 -0700, Roedy Green
> <see_website at> wrote:
>>On Fri, 5 Jun 2009 18:15:00 +0000 (UTC), Kaz Kylheku
>><kkylheku at> 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.

That will always be true so it conveys no useful information to the

> Even the lightest weight 
> user space ("green") threads need a few hundred instructions, minimum,
> to amortize the cost of context switching.

Work items in Cilk are much faster than that.

> 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.

Parallelism is inherently not scalable. I see no merit in speculating about
the ramifications of "average" programmers alleged inabilities.

Dr Jon D Harrop, Flying Frog Consultancy Ltd.

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