Home → Magazine Archive → December 2018 (Vol. 61, No. 12) → How to Implement Any Concurrent Data Structure → Abstract

How to Implement Any Concurrent Data Structure

By Irina Calciu, Siddhartha Sen, Mahesh Balakrishnan, Marcos K. Aguilera

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 61 No. 12, Pages 97-105

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We propose a method called Node Replication (NR) to implement any concurrent data structure. The method takes a single-threaded implementation of a data structure and automatically transforms it into a concurrent (thread-safe) implementation. The result is designed to work well with and harness the power of modern servers, which are complex Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) machines with many processor sockets and subtle performance characteristics. Using NR requires no expertise in concurrent data structure design, and the result is free of concurrency bugs. NR represents a paradigm shift of how concurrent algorithms are developed: rather than designing for a data structure, we design for the architecture.

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1. Introduction

Concurrent data structures are everywhere in the software stack, from the kernel (e.g., priority queues for scheduling), to application libraries (e.g., tries for memory allocation), to applications (e.g., balanced trees for indexing). These data structures, when inefficient, can cripple the performance of the system.

Due to recent architectural changes, high-performance servers today are Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) machines. Such machines have multiple processor sockets, herein called nodes, each with some local cache and memory. Although cores in a node can access the memory in other nodes, it is faster to access local memory and to share cache lines within a node than across nodes. To fully harness the power of NUMA, data structures must take this asymmetry into consideration: they must be NUMA-aware to reduce cross-node communication and minimize accesses to remote caches and memory.


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