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A Discrete Event Simulation Model for Understanding Kernel Lock Thrashing on Multi-core Architectures

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6 Author(s)
Yan Cui ; Dept. of Comput. Sci. & Technol., Tsinghua Univ., Beijing, China ; Weiyi Wu ; Yingxin Wang ; Xufeng Guo
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Multi-core architectures have become mainstream. Trends suggest that the number of cores integrated on a single chip will increase continuously. However, lock contention in operating systems can limit the parallel scalability on multi-cores so significantly that the speedup decreases with the increasing number of cores (thrashing). Although the phenomenon can be easily reproduced experimentally, most existing lock models are not able to do so. To overcome this challenge, this paper develops a discrete event simulation model which has the capability of capturing both the sequential execution in critical sections and the contention for shared hardware resources. The model is evaluated using a series of typical parameter configurations which can represent different degrees of lock contention. Experimental results suggest that the thrashing phenomenon can be observed when the model parameters are selected properly. To further understand this phenomenon, statistics such as the percentage of time spent waiting for locks and the number of cores waiting for a lock are exploited to characterize the lock thrashing. In addition, the model sensitivity to changes in memory latency and hardware architectures are also examined. Finally, we use this model to compare three methods which are proposed for preventing the lock thrashing.

Published in:

Parallel and Distributed Systems (ICPADS), 2010 IEEE 16th International Conference on

Date of Conference:

8-10 Dec. 2010