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From: Linus Torvalds <>
Newsgroups: fa.linux.kernel
Subject: Re: [PATCH] rfc: threaded epoll_wait thundering herd
Date: Sat, 05 May 2007 04:46:20 UTC
Message-ID: <fa.tkEmq+pWdzhD901/>

On Sat, 5 May 2007, Eric Dumazet wrote:
> But... what happens if the thread that was chosen exits from the loop in
> ep_poll() with res = -EINTR (because of signal_pending(current))

Not a problem.

What happens is that an exclusive wake-up stops on the first entry in the
wait-queue that it actually *wakes*up*, but if some task has just marked
itself as being TASK_UNINTERRUPTIBLE, but is still on the run-queue, it
will just be marked TASK_RUNNING and that in itself isn't enough to cause
the "exclusive" test to trigger.

The code in sched.c is subtle, but worth understanding if you care about
these things. You should look at:

 - try_to_wake_up() - this is the default wakeup function (and the one
   that should work correctly - I'm not going to guarantee that any of the
   other specialty-wakeup-functions do so)

   The return value is the important thing. Returning non-zero is
   "success", and implies that we actually activated it.

   See the "goto out_running" case for the case where the process was
   still actually on the run-queues, and we just ended up setting
   "p->state = TASK_RUNNING" - we still return 0, and the "exclusive"
   logic will not trigger.

 - __wake_up_common: this is the thing that _calls_ the above, and which
   cares about the return value above. It does

	if (curr->func(curr, mode, sync, key) &&
		(flags & WQ_FLAG_EXCLUSIVE) && !--nr_exclusive)

   ie it only decrements (and triggers) the nr_exclusive thing when the
   wakeup-function returned non-zero (and when the waitqueue entry was
   marked exclusive, of course).

So what does all this subtlety *mean*?

Walk through it. It means that it is safe to do the

	if (signal_pending())
		return -EINTR;

kind of thing, because *when* you do this, you obviously are always on the
run-queue (otherwise the process wouldn't be running, and couldn't be
doing the test). So if there is somebody else waking you up right then and
there, they'll never count your wakeup as an exclusive one, and they will
wake up at least one other real exclusive waiter.

(IOW, you get a very very small probability of a very very small
"thundering herd" - obviously it won't be "thundering" any more, it will
be more of a "whispering herdlet").

The Linux kernel sleep/wakeup thing is really quite nifty and smart. And
very few people realize just *how* nifty and elegant (and efficient) it
is. Hopefully a few more people appreciate its beauty and subtlety now ;)


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