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Spin Detection Hardware for Improved Management of Multithreaded Systems
June 2006 (vol. 17 no. 6)
pp. 508-521

Abstract—Spinning is a synchronization mechanism commonly used in applications and operating systems. Excessive spinning, however, often indicates performance or correctness (e.g., livelock) problems. Detecting if applications and operating systems are spinning is essential for achieving high performance, especially in consolidated servers running virtual machines. Prior research has used source or binary instrumentation to detect spinning. However, these approaches place a significant burden on programmers and may even be infeasible in certain situations. In this paper, we propose efficient hardware to detect spinning in unmodified applications and operating systems. Based on this hardware, we develop 1) scheduling and power policies that adaptively manage resources for spinning threads, 2) system support that helps detect when a multithreaded program is livelocked, and 3) hardware performance counters that accurately reflect system performance. Using full-system simulation with SPEC OMP, SPLASH-2, and Wisconsin commercial workloads, we demonstrate that our mechanisms effectively improve the management of multithreaded systems.

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Index Terms:
Deadlock, livelock, multiprocessor, multithreaded system, performance counter, scheduling, spinning, synchronization, virtualization.
Citation:
Tong Li, Alvin R. Lebeck, Daniel J. Sorin, "Spin Detection Hardware for Improved Management of Multithreaded Systems," IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems, vol. 17, no. 6, pp. 508-521, June 2006, doi:10.1109/TPDS.2006.78
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