Supporting Nested Transactional Memory in LogTM

This research was conducted by Michelle J. Moravan, Jayaram Bobba, Kevin E. Moore, Luke Yen, Mark D. Hill, Ben Liblit, Michael M. Swift, and David A. Wood. The paper has been published in the Twelfth International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems (ASPLOS XII / ASPLOS 2006).


Nested transactional memory (TM) facilitates software composition by letting one module invoke another without either knowing whether the other uses transactions. Closed nested transactions extend isolation of an inner transaction until the toplevel transaction commits. Implementations may flatten nested transactions into the top-level one, resulting in a complete abort on conflict, or allow partial abort of inner transactions. Open nested transactions allow a committing inner transaction to immediately release isolation, which increases parallelism and expressiveness at the cost of both software and hardware complexity.

This paper extends the recently-proposed flat Log-based Transactional Memory (LogTM) with nested transactions. Flat LogTM saves pre-transaction values in a log, detects conflicts with read (R) and write (W) bits per cache block, and, on abort, invokes a software handler to unroll the log. Nested LogTM supports nesting by segmenting the log into a stack of activation records and modestly replicating R/W bits. To facilitate composition with nontransactional code, such as language runtime and operating system services, we propose escape actions that allow trusted code to run outside the confines of the transactional memory system.

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