Computation-Centric Memory Models

by Matteo Frigo and Victor Luchangco.

In the 10th ACM Symposium on Parallel Algorithms and Architectures, June 28-July 2, 1998.
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We present a computation-centric theory of memory models. Unlike traditional processor-centric models, computation-centric models focus on the logical dependencies among instructions rather than the processor that happens to execute them. This theory allows us to define what a memory model is, and to investigate abstract properties of memory models. In particular, we focus on constructibility, which is a necessary property of those models that can be implemented exactly by an online algorithm. For a nonconstructible model, we show that there is a natural way to define the constructible version of that model. We explore the implications of constructibility in the context of dag-consistent memory models, which do not require that memory locations be serialized. The strongest dag-consistent model, called NN-dag consistency, is not constructible. However, its constructible version is equivalent to a model that we call location consistency, in which each location is serialized independently.

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