Spinlocks live among us. We see them on duty, in uniform, and greet them by name. When we interact, they show a badge and leave a receipt for the time they eroded from our working day. Or so we’d like to think.
When looking at the 2016 SOS_RWLock, we came across the one-bit spinlock buried within its Count member. Since it protects a very simple wait structure, someone evidently made the decision that it is cheap enough to spin aggressively until acquired, with no backoff logic. This suggests that a low degree of spinlock contention is anticipated, either because few threads are expected to try and acquire the lock simultaneously or because the amount of business to be done while holding the lock is very light and likely to finish quickly. Continue reading “The Latch Files 2: The spinlock that dares not speak its name”
Time to start chipping away at the monster subject of storage engine latches. If you’re anything like me, you were really impressed by the expositions of latches done by James Rowland-Jones (in Professional SQL Server 2008 Internals and Troubleshooting) and Bob Ward (PASS Summit “Inside Latches” session) when this information first started dribbling out. Now we have reached a point in history where latches seem to be used as a swear word. Well, for the record, I am still fascinated by them, and their internals are pretty darn marvellous.
Today I’m going to keep it comparatively focused, looking at nothing other than the Count member of the LatchBase class. Specifically, I’ll only be considering the act of acquiring an uncontended un-promoted latch, based on the SQL Server 2014 and 2016 latch implementation. Continue reading “The Latch Files: Out for the count”
Talk about serendipity. I’ve been working on a progression of blog posts that would include dealing with the SOS_RWLock in both 2014 and 2016 versions, and today is a perfect excuse to align it with the 2016-themed T-SQL Tuesday hosted by Michael J Swart.
Moving along with our bestiary of synchronisation classes, the SOS_RWLock, a reader-writer lock, feels like a logical next stop. It has been in the news recently, it has fairly simple semantics, and it is built upon primitives that we have already explored, namely spinlocks, linked lists and the EventInternal class. Its implementation is quite a leap from the simple SOS_Mutex and there is more scope for alternative implementations providing the same functionality. And, would you believe it, as called out by Bob Dorr, the 2012/2014 implementation has now been found wanting and got rewritten for 2016. Today we’re looking at the “classic” version though, because we then get the chance to understand the 2016 rewrite in terms of concrete design decisions. (Update: I examine the 2016 update here). Continue reading “Unsung SQLOS: the classic SOS_RWLock”
A mutex, short for “mutual exclusion”, is arguably the simplest waitable synchronisation construct you can imagine. It exposes methods for acquisition and release, and the semantics are straightforward:
Initially it isn’t “owned”, and anybody who asks to acquire it is granted ownership
While owned, anybody else who comes around to try and acquire it must wait her turn
When the owner is done with it, the mutex is released, which then transfers ownership to one waiter (if any) and unpends that waiter
A mutex can also validly be referred to as a critical section, in the sense that it protects a critical section of code, or more accurately, data. When programming libraries expose both a mutex and a critical section, as Windows does, it really just reflects different implementations of synchronisation objects with the same semantics. You could also consider a spinlock to be a flavour of mutex: while the name “spinlock” describes the mechanism by which competing threads jostle for exclusive ownership (it can’t be politely waited upon), the idea of mutual exclusion with at most one concurrent owner still applies.
Today we’re taking a step towards scheduler territory by examining the EventInternal class, the granddaddy of SQLOS synchronisation objects. At the outset, let’s get one formality out of the way: although it is a template class taking a spinlock type as template parameter, we only see it instantiated as EventInternal<SuspendQSLock> as of SQL Server 2014. What this means is that spins on its internal spinlock is always going to be showing up as SOS_SUSPEND_QUEUE.
It’s a very simple class (deceptively so even) which can implement a few different event flavours, doing its waiting via SQLOS scheduler methods rather than directly involving the Windows kernel. The desire to keep things simple and – as far as possible – keep control flow out of kernel mode is a very common goal for threading libraries and frameworks. .Net is a good frame of reference here, because it is well documented, but the pattern exists within OS APIs too, where the power and generality of kernel-mode code has to be weighed off against the cost of getting there. Continue reading “Unsung SQLOS: the EventInternal”
SystemThread, a class within sqldk.dll, can be considered to be at the root of SQLOS’s scheduling capabilities. While it doesn’t expose much obviously exciting functionality, it encapsulates a lot of the state that is necessary to give a thread a sense of self in SQLOS, serving as the beacon for any code to find its way to an associated SQLOS scheduler etc. I won’t go into much of the SQLOS object hierarchy here, but suffice it to say that everything becomes derivable by knowing one’s SystemThread. As such, this class jumps the gap between a Windows thread and the object-oriented SQLOS. Continue reading “Unsung SQLOS: the SystemThread”
In my previous post, Threading for humans, I ended with a brief look at TLS, thread-local storage. Given its prominent position in SQLOS, I’d like to take you on a deeper dive into TLS, including some x64 implementation details. Far from being a dry subject, this gets interesting when you look at how TLS helps to support the very abstraction of a thread, as well as practical questions like how cleanly any/or efficiently SQLOS encapsulates mechanisms peculiar to Windows on Intel, or for that matter Windows as opposed to Linux. Continue reading “Windows, mirrors and a sense of self”
I used to think of threading as a complicated subject that everybody except me had a grip on. Turns out that it’s actually simple stuff with complicated repercussions, and no, many people don’t really get it, so I was in good company all along. Because I’m heading into some SQLOS thread internals, this is a good time to take stock and revisit a few fundamentals. This will be an idiosyncratic explanation, and one that ignores many complexities inside the black box – CPU internals, the added abstraction of a hypervisor, and programming constructs like thread pooling and tasks – for the sake of focusing on functionality directly exposed to the lower levels of software. Continue reading “Threading for humans”