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Date:      Mon, 8 Jul 2013 14:56:54 -0400
From:      John Baldwin <>
Cc:        Davide Italiano <>,
Subject:   Re: Accessing struct pthread from kernel
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <> <> <>

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On Sunday, July 07, 2013 6:22:18 pm Davide Italiano wrote:
> On Sun, Jul 7, 2013 at 2:34 PM, Konstantin Belousov <> 
> > On Sat, Jul 06, 2013 at 01:22:05AM +0200, Davide Italiano wrote:
> >> Hi,
> >> as a preliminary step in the implementation of adaptive spinning for
> >> umtx, I'm switching the pthread/umtx code so that a thread that
> >> acquires a pthread_mutex writes the address of struct pthread in the
> >> owner field of the lock instead of the thread id (tid). This is
> >> because having struct pthread pointer allows easily to access
> >> informations of the thread, and makes easy to get the state of the
> >> thread exported from the kernel (once this will be implemented).
> >>
> >> For what concerns the libthr side, the internal function
> >> _get_curthread() goes into the TLS to obtain the struct field of
> >> curthread, so I'm done.
> >> OTOH, I'm quite unsure instead about how to get address of struct
> >> pthread for curthread from the kernel side (for example, in
> >> do_lock_umutex() sys/kern/kern_umtx.c).
> > You should not, see below.
> >
> >>
> >> I guess I need to write some MD code because the TLS is different on
> >> the various architecture supported in FreeBSD, and as a first step I
> >> focused on amd64.
> >> It looks like from the SDM that %%fs register points to the base of
> >> the TLS, so I think that accessing using curthread->td_pcb->pcb_fsbase
> >> (and then adding the proper offset to acces the right field) is a
> >> viable solution to do this. Am I correct?
> >> In particular what worries me is if the read of 'struct pthread' for
> >> curthread from the TLS register is atomic with respect to preemptions.
> >>
> >> Alternatively, is there an (easier way) to accomplish this task?
> >
> > Coupling the libthr thread structure and kernel makes the ABI cast in
> > stone and avoids most possibilities of changing the libthr internals.
> > The same is true for kernel accessing the userspace TLS area of the 
> >
> > If you want kernel<->usermode communication of the thread run state,
> > and possibly also a way to advisory prevent a preemption of the
> > spinning usermode thread, you should create a dedicated parameter block
> > communicated from usermode to kernel on thread creation. For the main
> > thread, the block could be allocated by kernel by image activator,
> > placed on the stack and its address passed to the usermode by auxv.
> >
> > Note that you cannot access the usermode from the context switch
> > code. Wiring the corresponding page is very wasteful (think about a
> > process with 10,000 threads) and still does not provide any guarantees
> > since usermode can unmap or remap the range. You might see my 'fast
> > sigprocmask' patches where somewhat similar idea was implemented.
> >
> I think the tecnique you used for sigprocmask is neat and could be
> reused for sharing thread state between kernel and userland, with some
> modifications, thanks.
> That said, the problem I faced out before was slightly different.
> In order to implement adaptive spinning 'efficiently'[1], threads
> waiting for a lock held by some other thread should be able to access
> easily the state owner. If I understand the kernel locking code
> properly, to accomplish this, once a thread acquire a lock it writes
> the address of its struct thread in the owner field of the lock, so
> that other threads can easily access to his state.
> Now, it looks like applying such a tecnique for userspace is just
> impossible for the reasons you mentioned in your previous mail.
> The two alternatives that came up to the top of my mind are:
> 1) maintain an hashtable that keep track of the mapping
> tid->curthread, so that other thread perform a lookup on the hash
> table to get curthread access.

If you have a good hash, this should be close to O(1) in the common case,
so the lookup shouldn't be bad.  However, you have to handle the race of
a thread being added or removed to the table while you are spinning, and
that seems more problematic / expensive.  You only have to do a best effort
though, so you could perhaps never remove items from the table (just mark
them as dead somehow, though even that isn't completely safe).

> 2) having an array indexed by tid where the state is stuck so that
> other threads can check what is the state of the lock owner.

This might not be a bad idea, though I'd possibly make it a hash table.
It handles the remaining race from above since an exiting thread can
just tag its tid with a "dead" state and you don't have to worry about
threads trying to deref a free'd pointer.

John Baldwin

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