Version 1 (modified by gz, 13 years ago) (diff)


Nearly-lock-free hash tables

CCL implements a modification of the lock-free hash table algorithm described by Cliff Click Jr. in

CCL uses this algorithm to implement thread-safe hash tables without the need for locking on every access. The result is that CCL's fully thread-safe hash tables have typical performance as good or better than non-thread safe hash tables.

The modifications have to do with the fact that our goal is just to minimize the performance impact of thread-safety, so I didn't bother with aspects of his algorithm that aren't relevant to that goal.

The main difference from Click's algorithm is that I don't try to do rehashing concurrently. Instead, rehashing grabs a lock, so that only one thread can be rehashing at any given time, and readers/writers will block waiting for the rehashing to finish.

In addition, I don't have a separate state for partially inserted key, I reuse the DELETED state for that. So in our implementation the following are the possible states of a hash table entry (where "object" means any object other than the special markers):

State Key Value
DELETED1 object free-marker
DELETED2 deleted-marker free-marker
IN-USE object object
FREE free-marker free-marker
REHASHING object rehashing-marker
REHASHING free-marker rehashing-marker
REHASHING deleted-marker rehashing-marker

No other states are allowed - at no point in time can a hash table entry be in any other state. In addition, the only transitions allowed on the key slot are free-marker -> object/deleted-marker -> deleted-marker. Once a key slot is claimed, it must never change to free or another key value (even after the hash vector has been discarded after rehashing -- because some process might still be looking at it).
In particular, rehashing in place is not an option. All rehashing creates a new vector and copies into it. This means it's kinda risky to use lock-free hash tables with address-based keys, because they will thrash in low-memory situations, but we don't disallow it because a particular use might not have this problem.

The following operations may take place:

  • gethash: find matching key - if no match, return not found. Else fetch value, if value is rehashing-marker then maybe-rehash and try again; if value is free-marker, return not found, else return found value.
  • puthash: find matching key or FREE slot.
    • If found key, fetch value. if value is rehashing-marker then maybe-rehash and try again; else store-conditional the value -> new value, if fails try again.
    • Else have FREE slot, store-key-conditional free-marker -> key, and if that succeeds, store-conditional free-marker -> new value, if either fails, maybe-rehash and try again.
  • remhash: find matching key - if no match, done. Else fetch value, if value is rehashing-marker then maybe-rehash and try again; else store-conditional the value -> free-marker, if fails try again.
  • rehash: grab a lock, estimate number of entries, make a new vector. loop over old vector, at each entry fetch the old value with atomic swap of rehashing-marker. This blocks any further state changes involving the value. It doesn't block state changes involving the key, but the only ones that can happen is FREE -> DELETED, and DELETED1 <-> DELETED2, all of which are equivalent from the point of view of rehashing. Anyway, if the old value was rehashing-marker then bug (because we have a lock). If the old value is free-marker then do nothing, else get the entry key and rehash into the new vector -- if no more room, start over. When done, store the new vector in the hash table and release lock.
  • gc: for weak tables, gc may convert IN-USE states to DELETED2 states. For all lock-free hash tables (weak or not) gc converts DELETED1 states to DELETED2 - gc can do that because the entire gc takes place atomically wrt the lisp runtime. REMHASH cannot do that without violating the invariants.