View the Project on GitHub rs3lab/TCLocks


Today’s high-performance applications heavily rely on various synchronization mechanisms, such as locks. While locks ensure mutual exclusion of shared data, their design impacts application scalability. Locks, as used in practice, move the lock-guarded shared data to the core holding it, which leads to shared data transfer among cores. This design adds unavoidable critical path latency leading to performance scalability issues. Meanwhile, some locks avoid this shared data movement by localizing the access to shared data on one core, and shipping the critical section to that specific core. However, such locks require modifying applications to explicitly package the critical section, which makes it virtually infeasible for complicated applications with large code-bases, such as the Linux kernel.

We propose transparent delegation, in which a waiter automatically encodes its critical section information on its stack and notifies the combiner (lock holder). The combiner executes the shipped critical section on the waiter’s behalf using a light-weight context switch. Using transparent delegation, we design a family of locking protocols (TCLocks), which require zero modification to applications’ logic. The evaluation shows that TCLocks provide up to 5.2x performance improvement compared with recent locking algorithms.

The source code is publicly available at the Github repository.

TCLocks and its associated paper will be presented at the Proceedings of the 17th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation 2023 (OSDI ‘23).