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Re: Optimization of conditional access to globals: thread-unsafe?

On 10/21/07, Tomash Brechko <> wrote:
> On Sun, Oct 21, 2007 at 17:26:02 +0200, Erik Trulsson wrote:
> > Note that C99 is firmly based on a single-threaded execution model and says
> > nothing whatsoever about what should happen or not happen in a threaded
> > environment.  According to C99 a C compiler is allowed to generate such code
> > as gcc does.
> Yes, I understand that C99 doesn't concern threads per see, but I
> wouldn't call it pro-single-threaded, rather thread-neutral.  I.e. the
> standard isn't made explicitly incompatible with threads, it is
> simply "says nothing about threads".
> > If you are using some threaded environment then you will have to read the
> > relevant standard for that to find out if it imposes any additional
> > restricitions on a C compiler beyond what the C standard does.
> All we have is POSIX, and it imposes very little on compiler I guess.
> > I suspect that most of them will not say one way or the other about what
> > should happen in this case, which means that you will have to assume the
> > worst case and protect all calls to f() regardless of the value of the
> > argument.
> Well, assuming the worst case won't always work, that's why I asked
> about reasonable boundary.  Consider the following (putting
> style/efficiency matters aside):
>   #include <pthread.h>
>   #define N 100
>   /* mutex[i] corresponds to byte[i].  */
>   pthread_mutex_t mutex[N];
>   char byte[N];
>   void
>   f(int i)
>   {
>     pthread_mutex_lock(&mutex[i]);
>     byte[i] = 1;
>     pthread_mutex_unlock(&mutex[i]);
>   }
> Is this code thread-safe?  Because from some POV C99 doesn't forbid to
> load and store the whole word when single byte[i] is accessed (given
> that C99 is pro-single-threaded).
> But if C99 is thread-neutral, then it's compiler's responsibility to
> ensure the same result as some abstract machine (which may be
> sequential).  In this case the compiler should access the single byte,
> no more.

On some architectures this is not even possible.  For performance
reasons you should store the individual bytes to separate cache-lines


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