DIP 1024--Shared Atomics--Community Review Round 1

Manu turkeyman at gmail.com
Wed Oct 2 05:57:42 UTC 2019

On Tue, Oct 1, 2019 at 3:45 AM Mike Parker via Digitalmars-d
<digitalmars-d at puremagic.com> wrote:
> [...]

At best, this DIP is premature; we need to make shared correctly
restrict read/write access before trying to do fancy stuff.
That flag is now available, but the implementation has bugs, and it
needs to be enabled by default.

Assuming that the supporting material I mention above is available and
works properly, then I think it might be reasonable to open some
discussion of this kind, and on that note... I think this is a really
bad idea, and almost the opposite of what you want in virtually every
I've written a whole lot of lock-free concurrent code, which involves
a lot of atomics, and the semantics in this DIP are not anything I
have ever seen or wanted (as I've argued here in the past). I think
the semantics described are misleading, and would only serve to
improperly educate an amateur user how to incorrectly write lock-free
algorithms, and increase their confidence that they're doing it right
(they're probably not).
1. Most atomic operations are NOT seq-cst. Seq-cst operations are *super rare*.
  a. I just searched our entire engine codebase; there are 971 calls
to atomic functions; there are *four* instances of seq-cst, and I
think at least some of them are actually wrong (over-synchronised),
possibly all of them, I would need to consider closer.
2. Many atomic operations appear in a series, in which case, it's
typical that exactly one operation in the series may be the
synchronisation point.
3. In reality, probably at least half of operations are 'relaxed'.
4. xchg and cas operations are fundamental to any atomic code, and
there are no syntax or operators for those operations; so, you're
undoubtedly using core.atomic aggressively anyway, and I think it's
just weird to litter naked arithmetic in between calls to core.atomic
functions. I feel that's misleading by making the naked arithmetic
look like NOT-atomic operations by contrast to a bunch of atomic
library calls.
5. In almost all cases when working with atomics, you tend to do
quirky stuff not captured by regular usage of data types, and not
conveniently facilitated by this DIP.

For instance; this is a common implementation for releasing a ref count:
  if (atomicLoad(rc, Relaxed) == 1 || atomicSub(rc, 1, Relaxed))
    // maybe acquire if necessary
    // do release logic...

How do I write that code with this DIP?

We need to make shared correct before we do any stuff like this, and
then when it's correct, we can talk... but I will probably continue to
resist this, because the only result I see is that it will train
amateurs to write bad atomic algorithms with an improper sense of
confidence gained by being sanctioned by the language.

This is a bad idea.

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