The past few years have marked the start of a historic transition from sequential to parallel computation. The necessity to write parallel programs is increasing as systems are getting more complex while processor speed increases are slowing down. Current parallel programming uses low-level programming constructs like threads and explicit synchronization using locks to coordinate thread execution. Parallel programs written with these constructs are difficult to design, program and debug. Also locks have many drawbacks which make them a suboptimal solution. One such drawback is that locks should be only used to enclose the critical section of the parallel-processing code. If locks are used to enclose the entire code then the performance of the code drastically decreases. Software Transactional Memory (STM) is a promising new approach to programming shared-memory parallel processors. It is a concurrency control mechanism that is widely considered to be easier to use by programmers than locking. It allows portions of a program to execute in isolation, without regard to other, concurrently executing tasks. A programmer can reason about the correctness of code within a transaction and need not worry about complex interactions with other, concurrently executing parts of the program. If STM is used to enclose the entire code then the performance of the code is the same as that of the code in which STM is used to enclose the critical section only and is far better than code in which locks have been used to enclose the entire code. So STM is easier to use than locks as critical section does not need to be identified in case of STM. This paper shows the concept of writing code using Software Transactional Memory (STM) and the performance comparison of codes using locks with those using STM. It also shows why the use of STM in parallel-processing code is better than the use of locks.
Kamal, Rup; Ray, Ryan Saptarshi; Ray, Utpal Kumar; and Bhaumik, Parama
"Cigarette-Smokers’ Problem with STM,"
International Journal of Computer and Communication Technology: Vol. 8:
2, Article 13.
Available at: https://www.interscience.in/ijcct/vol8/iss2/13