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Based on kernel version 3.17.3. Page generated on 2014-11-14 22:19 EST.

1	Generic Mutex Subsystem
3	started by Ingo Molnar <mingo@redhat.com>
4	updated by Davidlohr Bueso <davidlohr@hp.com>
6	What are mutexes?
7	-----------------
9	In the Linux kernel, mutexes refer to a particular locking primitive
10	that enforces serialization on shared memory systems, and not only to
11	the generic term referring to 'mutual exclusion' found in academia
12	or similar theoretical text books. Mutexes are sleeping locks which
13	behave similarly to binary semaphores, and were introduced in 2006[1]
14	as an alternative to these. This new data structure provided a number
15	of advantages, including simpler interfaces, and at that time smaller
16	code (see Disadvantages).
18	[1] http://lwn.net/Articles/164802/
20	Implementation
21	--------------
23	Mutexes are represented by 'struct mutex', defined in include/linux/mutex.h
24	and implemented in kernel/locking/mutex.c. These locks use a three
25	state atomic counter (->count) to represent the different possible
26	transitions that can occur during the lifetime of a lock:
28		  1: unlocked
29		  0: locked, no waiters
30	   negative: locked, with potential waiters
32	In its most basic form it also includes a wait-queue and a spinlock
33	that serializes access to it. CONFIG_SMP systems can also include
34	a pointer to the lock task owner (->owner) as well as a spinner MCS
35	lock (->osq), both described below in (ii).
37	When acquiring a mutex, there are three possible paths that can be
38	taken, depending on the state of the lock:
40	(i) fastpath: tries to atomically acquire the lock by decrementing the
41	    counter. If it was already taken by another task it goes to the next
42	    possible path. This logic is architecture specific. On x86-64, the
43	    locking fastpath is 2 instructions:
45	    0000000000000e10 <mutex_lock>:
46	    e21:   f0 ff 0b                lock decl (%rbx)
47	    e24:   79 08                   jns    e2e <mutex_lock+0x1e>
49	   the unlocking fastpath is equally tight:
51	    0000000000000bc0 <mutex_unlock>:
52	    bc8:   f0 ff 07                lock incl (%rdi)
53	    bcb:   7f 0a                   jg     bd7 <mutex_unlock+0x17>
56	(ii) midpath: aka optimistic spinning, tries to spin for acquisition
57	     while the lock owner is running and there are no other tasks ready
58	     to run that have higher priority (need_resched). The rationale is
59	     that if the lock owner is running, it is likely to release the lock
60	     soon. The mutex spinners are queued up using MCS lock so that only
61	     one spinner can compete for the mutex.
63	     The MCS lock (proposed by Mellor-Crummey and Scott) is a simple spinlock
64	     with the desirable properties of being fair and with each cpu trying
65	     to acquire the lock spinning on a local variable. It avoids expensive
66	     cacheline bouncing that common test-and-set spinlock implementations
67	     incur. An MCS-like lock is specially tailored for optimistic spinning
68	     for sleeping lock implementation. An important feature of the customized
69	     MCS lock is that it has the extra property that spinners are able to exit
70	     the MCS spinlock queue when they need to reschedule. This further helps
71	     avoid situations where MCS spinners that need to reschedule would continue
72	     waiting to spin on mutex owner, only to go directly to slowpath upon
73	     obtaining the MCS lock.
76	(iii) slowpath: last resort, if the lock is still unable to be acquired,
77	      the task is added to the wait-queue and sleeps until woken up by the
78	      unlock path. Under normal circumstances it blocks as TASK_UNINTERRUPTIBLE.
80	While formally kernel mutexes are sleepable locks, it is path (ii) that
81	makes them more practically a hybrid type. By simply not interrupting a
82	task and busy-waiting for a few cycles instead of immediately sleeping,
83	the performance of this lock has been seen to significantly improve a
84	number of workloads. Note that this technique is also used for rw-semaphores.
86	Semantics
87	---------
89	The mutex subsystem checks and enforces the following rules:
91	    - Only one task can hold the mutex at a time.
92	    - Only the owner can unlock the mutex.
93	    - Multiple unlocks are not permitted.
94	    - Recursive locking/unlocking is not permitted.
95	    - A mutex must only be initialized via the API (see below).
96	    - A task may not exit with a mutex held.
97	    - Memory areas where held locks reside must not be freed.
98	    - Held mutexes must not be reinitialized.
99	    - Mutexes may not be used in hardware or software interrupt
100	      contexts such as tasklets and timers.
102	These semantics are fully enforced when CONFIG DEBUG_MUTEXES is enabled.
103	In addition, the mutex debugging code also implements a number of other
104	features that make lock debugging easier and faster:
106	    - Uses symbolic names of mutexes, whenever they are printed
107	      in debug output.
108	    - Point-of-acquire tracking, symbolic lookup of function names,
109	      list of all locks held in the system, printout of them.
110	    - Owner tracking.
111	    - Detects self-recursing locks and prints out all relevant info.
112	    - Detects multi-task circular deadlocks and prints out all affected
113	      locks and tasks (and only those tasks).
116	Interfaces
117	----------
118	Statically define the mutex:
119	   DEFINE_MUTEX(name);
121	Dynamically initialize the mutex:
122	   mutex_init(mutex);
124	Acquire the mutex, uninterruptible:
125	   void mutex_lock(struct mutex *lock);
126	   void mutex_lock_nested(struct mutex *lock, unsigned int subclass);
127	   int  mutex_trylock(struct mutex *lock);
129	Acquire the mutex, interruptible:
130	   int mutex_lock_interruptible_nested(struct mutex *lock,
131					       unsigned int subclass);
132	   int mutex_lock_interruptible(struct mutex *lock);
134	Acquire the mutex, interruptible, if dec to 0:
135	   int atomic_dec_and_mutex_lock(atomic_t *cnt, struct mutex *lock);
137	Unlock the mutex:
138	   void mutex_unlock(struct mutex *lock);
140	Test if the mutex is taken:
141	   int mutex_is_locked(struct mutex *lock);
143	Disadvantages
144	-------------
146	Unlike its original design and purpose, 'struct mutex' is larger than
147	most locks in the kernel. E.g: on x86-64 it is 40 bytes, almost twice
148	as large as 'struct semaphore' (24 bytes) and 8 bytes shy of the
149	'struct rw_semaphore' variant. Larger structure sizes mean more CPU
150	cache and memory footprint.
152	When to use mutexes
153	-------------------
155	Unless the strict semantics of mutexes are unsuitable and/or the critical
156	region prevents the lock from being shared, always prefer them to any other
157	locking primitive.
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