Hardware and its Concurrency Habits

This talk will present a high-level overview of the hardware structure of modern computer systems, and then will use this structure to show how the laws of physics put limitations on the design and implementation of concurrent software. Venue permitting, it will include a stark visual exposition of these limitations. Finally, this talk will compare how well various synchronization use cases are aligned with modern hardware structure and the laws of physics. Audience members will gain a firmer intuition on the costs and benefits of different synchronization mechanisms.

Paul E McKenney

Paul E. McKenney has been coding for almost four decades, more than half of that on parallel hardware, where his work has earned him a reputation among some as a flaming heretic. Over the past decade, Paul has been an IBM Distinguished Engineer at the IBM Linux Technology Center. Paul maintains the RCU implementation within the Linux kernel, where the variety of workloads present highly entertaining performance, scalability, real-time response, and energy-efficiency challenges. Prior to that, he worked on the DYNIX/ptx kernel at Sequent, and prior to that on packet-radio and Internet protocols (but long before it was polite to mention Internet at cocktail parties), system administration, business applications, and real-time systems. His hobbies include what passes for running at his age (also knows as “hiking”) along with the usual house-wife-and-kids habit.