Publication
FMCAD 2010
Conference paper

Automatic inference of memory fences

Abstract

This paper addresses the problem of placing memory fences in a concurrent program running on a relaxed memory model. Modern architectures implement relaxed memory models which may reorder memory operations or execute them non-atomically. Special instructions called memory fences are provided to the programmer, allowing control of this behavior. To ensure correctness of many algorithms, in particular of non-blocking ones, a programmer is often required to explicitly insert memory fences into her program. However, she must use as few fences as possible, or the benefits of the relaxed architecture may be lost. Placing memory fences is challenging and very error prone, as it requires subtle reasoning about the underlying memory model. We present a framework for automatic inference of memory fences in concurrent programs, assisting the programmer in this complex task. Given a finite-state program, a safety specification and a description of the memory model, our framework computes a set of ordering constraints that guarantee the correctness of the program under the memory model. The computed constraints are maximally permissive: removing any constraint from the solution would permit an execution violating the specification. Our framework then realizes the computed constraints as additional fences in the input program. We implemented our approach in a tool called FENDER and used it to infer correct and efficient placements of fences for several non-trivial algorithms, including practical concurrent data structures. © 2010 FMCAD Inc.

Date

01 Dec 2010

Publication

FMCAD 2010

Authors

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