ATOMIC_OPS(3)           NetBSD Library Functions Manual          ATOMIC_OPS(3)

NAME
     atomic_ops -- atomic memory operations

SYNOPSIS
     #include <sys/atomic.h>

DESCRIPTION
     The atomic_ops family of functions provide atomic memory operations.
     There are 7 classes of atomic memory operations available :

     atomic_add(3)   These functions perform atomic addition.

     atomic_and(3)   These functions perform atomic logical ``and''.

     atomic_cas(3)   These functions perform atomic compare-and-swap.

     atomic_dec(3)   These functions perform atomic decrement.

     atomic_inc(3)   These functions perform atomic increment.

     atomic_or(3)    These functions perform atomic logical ``or''.

     atomic_swap(3)  These functions perform atomic swap.

     Synchronization mechanisms

         Where the architecture does not provide hardware support for atomic
         compare and swap (CAS), atomicity is provided by a restartable
         sequence or by a spinlock.  The chosen method is not ordinarily dis-
         tinguishable by or visible to users of the interface.  The following
         architectures can be assumed to provide CAS in hardware: alpha,
         amd64, i386, powerpc, powerpc64, sparc64.

     Scope and restrictions

         If hardware CAS is available, the atomic operations are globally
         atomic: operations within a memory region shared between processes
         are guaranteed to be performed atomically.  If hardware CAS is not
         available, it may only be assumed that the operations are atomic with
         respect to threads in the same process.  Additionally, if hardware
         CAS is not available, the atomic operations must not be used within a
         signal handler.

         Users of atomic memory operations should not make assumptions about
         how the memory access is performed (specifically, the width of the
         memory access).  For this reason, applications making use of atomic
         memory operations should limit their use to regular memory.  The
         results of using atomic memory operations on anything other than reg-
         ular memory are undefined.

         Users of atomic memory operations should take care to modify any
         given memory location either entirely with atomic operations or
         entirely with some other synchronization mechanism.  Intermixing of
         atomic operations with other synchronization mechanisms for the same
         memory location results in undefined behavior.

     Visibility and ordering of memory accesses

         If hardware CAS is available, stores to the target memory location by
         an atomic operation will reach global visibility before the operation
         completes.  If hardware CAS is not available, the store may not reach
         global visibility until some time after the atomic operation has com-
         pleted.  However, in all cases a subsequent atomic operation on the
         same memory cell will be delayed until the result of any preceeding
         operation has reached global visibility.

         Atomic operations are strongly ordered with respect to each other.
         The global visibility of other loads and stores before and after an
         atomic operation is undefined.  Applications that require synchro-
         nization of loads and stores with respect to an atomic operation must
         use memory barriers.  See membar_ops(3).

     Performance

         Because atomic memory operations require expensive synchronization at
         the hardware level, applications should take care to minimize their
         use.  In certain cases, it may be more appropriate to use a mutex,
         especially if more than one memory location will be modified.

SEE ALSO
     atomic_add(3), atomic_and(3), atomic_cas(3), atomic_dec(3),
     atomic_inc(3), atomic_or(3), atomic_swap(3), membar_ops(3)

HISTORY
     The atomic_ops functions first appeared in NetBSD 5.0.

NetBSD 5.0.1                   Febuary 11, 2007                   NetBSD 5.0.1

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