Increase transactional throughput with deadlock detection

Deadlock detection is a new feature in Infinispan. It is about increasing the number of transactions that can be concurrently processed. Let’s start with the problem first (the deadlock) then discuss some design details and performance.

So, the by-the-book deadlock example is the following:

  • Transaction one (T1) performs following operation sequence: (write key_1,write key_2)

  • Transaction two (T2) performs following sequence: (write key_2, write key_1).

Now, if the T1 and T2 happen at the same time and both have executed first operation, then they will wait for each other virtually forever to release owned locks on keys. In the real world, the waiting period is defined by a lock acquisition timeout (LAT) - which defaults to 10 seconds - that allows the system to overcome such scenarios and respond to the user one way (successful) or the other(failure): so after a period of LAT one (or both) transaction will rollback, allowing the other to continue working.

Deadlocks are bad for both system’s throughput and user experience. System throughput is affected because during the deadlock period (which might extend up to LAT) no other thread will be able to update neither key_1 nor key_2. Even worse, access to any other keys that were modified by T1 or T2 will be similarly restricted. User experience is altered by the fact that the call(s) will freeze for the entire deadlock period, and also there’s a chance that both T1 and T2 will rollback by timing out.

As a side note, in the previous example, if the code running the transactions would(and can) enforce any sort of ordering on the keys accessed within the transaction, then the deadlock would be avoided. E.g. if the application code would order the operation based on the lexicographic ordering of keys, both T1 and T2 would execute the following sequence: (write key_1,write key_2), and so no deadlock would result. This is a best practice and should be followed whenever possible. Enough with the theory! The way Infinispan performs deadlock detection is based on an algorithm designed by Jason Greene and Manik Surtani, which is detailed here. The basic idea is to split the LAT in smaller cycles, as it follows:

lock(int lockAcquisitionTimeout) {
while (currentTime < startTime + timeout) {
 if (acquire(smallTimeout)) break;
 testForDeadlock(globalTransaction, key);
}
}

What testForDeadlock(globalTransaction, key) does is check weather there is another transaction that satisfies both conditions:

  1. holds a lock on key and

  2. intends to lock on a key that is currently called by this transaction.

If such a transaction is found then this is a deadlock, and one of the running transactions will be interrupted: the decision of which transaction will interrupt is based on coin toss, a random number that is associated with each transaction. This will ensure that only one transaction will rollback, and the decision is deterministic: nodes and transactions do not need to communicate with each other to determine the outcome.

Deadlock detection in Infinispan works in two flavors: determining deadlocks on transactions that spread over several caches and deadlock detection in transactions running on a single(local) cache.

Let’s see some performance figures as well. A class for benchmarking performance of deadlock detection functionality was created and can be seen here. Test description (from javadoc):

We use a fixed size pool of keys (KEY_POOL_SIZE) on which each transaction operates. A number of threads (THREAD_COUNT) repeatedly starts transactions and tries to acquire locks on a random subset of this pool, by executing put operations on each key. If all locks were successfully acquired then the tx tries to commit: only if it succeeds this tx is counted as successful. The number of elements in this subset is the transaction size (TX_SIZE). The greater transaction size is, the higher chance for deadlock situation to occur. On each thread these transactions are being repeatedly executed (each time on a different, random key set) for a given time interval (BENCHMARK_DURATION). At the end, the number of successful transactions from each thread is cumulated, and this defines throughput (successful tx) per time unit (by default one minute).

Disclaimer: The following figures are for a scenario especially designed to force very high contention. This is not typical, and you shouldn’t expect to see this level of increase in performance for applications with lower contention (which most likely is the case). Please feel free tune the above benchmark class to fit the contention level of your application; sharing your experience would be very useful!

Following diagram shows the performance degradation resulting from running the deadlock detection code by itslef in a scenario where no contention/deadlocks are present. imagehttp://2.bp.blogspot.com/_ISQfVF8ALAQ/Sm2h_re8qKI/AAAAAAAABqA/bsNgEyCkcYw/s1600-h/DLD_replicated.JPG[image]image Some clues on when to enable deadlock detection. A high number of transaction rolling back due to org.infinispan.util.concurrent.TimeoutException is an indicator that this functionality might help. TimeoutException might be caused by other causes as well, but deadlocks will always result in this exception being thrown. Generally, when you have a high contention on a set of keys, deadlock detection may help. But the best way is not to guess the performance improvement but to benchmark and monitor it: you can have access to statistics (e.g. number of deadlocks detected) through JMX, as it is exposed via the DeadlockDetectingLockManager MBean.

Posted by Mircea Markus on 2009-07-27
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