Page-Based Transactional Memory to Provide Fast Virtual Transactions

Weihaw Chuang, Satish Narayanasamy, Gilles Pokam, Jack Sampson, Michael Van Biesbrouck, Ganesh Venkatesh, Osvaldo Colavin and Brad Calder
December 18, 2005

Transactions have emerged as a promising way to exploit thread-level parallelism in the presence of shared data. Preventing data-races between threads traditionally implies lock-based synchronization. This comes at the risk of deadlock due to programmer error, and overly-conservative locking will limit the performance potential of parallel execution. Transactions circumvent these limitations by detecting and serializing data dependencies between threads at runtime without the need for locks. Hardware supported transactional memory builds on top of the cache coherence mechanism of shared memory multi-processors to detect data dependence conflicts between concurrent transactions. Recent proposals address the need to support the virtualization of transactions when the finite capacity of the cache is exceeded. These techniques have either a fast commit or abort, but not both. Similarly they support either fast conflict detection but are not able to handle swapped processes, or slow but complete. In this paper we examine page-based transactional memory to provide virtual transactions. We combine transaction bookkeeping with page address translation for fast conflict detection with fast access of overflowed transactional data. Our approach provides fast virtual transaction commit and abort, and conflict detection. We provide quantitative measurement of performance, whereas most examinations of virtualized transaction techniques provide only theoretical analysis of performance.

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