To Lock, Swap, or Elide: On the Interplay of Hardware Transactional Memory and Lock-Free Indexing

  • Darko Makreshanski
  • Justin Levandoski
  • Ryan Stutsman

Proceedings of the VDLB Endowment, Proceedings of the VLDB Endorement |

The release of hardware transactional memory (HTM) in commodity CPUs has major implications on the design and implementation of main-memory databases, especially on the architecture of highperformance lock-free indexing methods at the core of several of these systems. This paper studies the interplay of HTM and lockfree indexing methods. First, we evaluate whether HTM will obviate the need for crafty lock-free index designs by integrating it in a traditional B-tree architecture. HTM performs well for simple data sets with small fixed-length keys and payloads, but its benefits disappear for more complex scenarios (e.g., larger variable-length keys and payloads), making it unattractive as a general solution for achieving high performance. Second, we explore fundamental differences between HTM-based and lock-free B-tree designs. While lock-freedom entails design complexity and extra mechanism, it has performance advantages in several scenarios, especially high-contention cases where readers proceed uncontested (whereas HTM aborts readers). Finally, we explore the use of HTM as a method to simplify lock-free design. We find that using HTM to implement a multi-word compare-and-swap greatly reduces lockfree programming complexity at the cost of only a 10-15% performance degradation. Our study uses two state-of-the-art index implementations: a memory-optimized B-tree extended with HTM to provide multi-threaded concurrency and the Bw-tree lock-free B-tree used in several Microsoft production environments.