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Re: guile-2.9.2 and threading

From: Linas Vepstas
Subject: Re: guile-2.9.2 and threading
Date: Tue, 9 Jul 2019 15:46:19 -0500

Hi Mark,

Sorry for the late reply; my email client mananged to hide your email where
I won't see it. I need to fix this.

On Thu, Jun 6, 2019 at 11:28 PM Mark H Weaver <address@hidden> wrote:

> You'll need to look at the stack frames on the Scheme stack.  It can be
> done from GDB if necessary, but it might be sufficient to use Guile's
> debugger.
> My first thought was to suggest ",break lock-mutex", but that doesn't
> work, presumably because it's a C primitive (although we should fix
> that), but I was able to patch in a pure Scheme wrapper for it, which
> then allows us to set a Scheme breakpoint:
I'll poke around and report back. Meanwhile, some orienting remarks.  Since
last email, I've accumulated several  CPU-months running guile-2.9.2 with
zero crashes and zero hangs. So I like it!  For threading, I see three or
four different behaviors or modes; sometimes it works great, sometimes it
doesn't work at all, and I'm still trying to figure out why.

A works-great example:
(par-for-each (lambda (stuff) (... little bit of scheme + CPU-intensive
C++)) some-precomputed-list)

The "CPU-intensive C++" are calls that take at least a millisecond to run,
sometimes seconds.  The above will very happily use all 24 cores and
deliver a 24x speedup over single-threaded.  Yay!

A works-poorly example:
(par-for-each (lambda (stuff) (.. (fold (lambda () numeric addition after
tiny C++)) some-list) list)

Here, "tiny C++" is something that just enters C++ and leaves almost
immediately; it's used to grab and return a numeric value. This runs as if
it were single-threaded, and delivers performance equivalent to being
single-threaded.  I don't know why; this is what I reported in the earlier

A doesn't-work example: mostly same as "works-poorly", but performance is
worse-than-single-threaded. Sometimes 2x worse. Why, I don't know. (It does
seem to do a LOT of gc; that might account for all of the slowdown; not
sure. These loops iterate over millions/tens-of-millions of items and can
take an hour to complete...)

The worse-than-single-threaded behavior was actually the norm for
guile-2.2; its no longer the norm (yay!). In guile-2.2, there seemed to be
some kind of livelock, where two threads were 1.5x faster than one, three
threads were 1.2x faster than one, and four threads were slower, and
sometimes one-thousand-fold slower! (but still making forward progress,
i.e. not a deadlock) That era seems to be over, yay!

I'll report on the rest, later, when I get a chance (the compute jobs are
hard to manage, and take an hour to set up)

-- Linas

cassette tapes - analog TV - film cameras - you

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