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Transactional Memory Everywhere: RCU

TMEverywhere
Because read-copy update (RCU) finds its main use in the Linux kernel, one might be forgiven for assuming that there had been no academic work on combining RCU and TM. However, the TxLinux group from the University of Texas at Austin had no choice. The fact that they applied TM to the Linux 2.6 kernel, which uses RCU, forced them to integrate TM and RCU, with TM taking the place of locking for RCU updates. Unfortunately, although the paper does state that the RCU implementation's locks (e.g., rcu_ctrlblk.lock) were converted to transactions, it is silent about what happened to locks used in RCU-based updates (e.g., dcache_lock).

It is important to note that RCU permits readers and updaters to run concurrently, further permitting RCU readers to access data that is in the act of being updated. Of course, this property of RCU, whatever its performance, scalability, and real-time-response benefits might be, flies in the face of the underlying atomicity properties of TM.

So how should TM-based updates interact with concurrent RCU readers?