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Test Set Lock Mechanism

Modification in the assembly code

In lock variable mechanism, Sometimes Process reads the old value of lock variable and enters the critical section. Due to this reason, more than one process might get into critical section. However, the code shown in the part one of the following section can be replaced with the code shown in the part two. This doesn't affect the algorithm but, by doing this, we can manage to provide the mutual exclusion to some extent but not completely.

In the updated version of code, the value of Lock is loaded into the local register R0 and then value of lock is set to 1.

However, in step 3, the previous value of lock (that is now stored into R0) is compared with 0. if this is 0 then the process will simply enter into the critical section otherwise will wait by executing continuously in the loop.

The benefit of setting the lock immediately to 1 by the process itself is that, now the process which enters into the critical section carries the updated value of lock variable that is 1.

In the case when it gets preempted and scheduled again then also it will not enter the critical section regardless of the current value of the lock variable as it already knows what the updated value of lock variable is.

Section 1 Section 2
1. Load Lock, R0
2. CMP R0, #0	
3. JNZ step1
4. store #1, Lock 
1. Load Lock, R0
2. Store #1, Lock
3. CMP R0, #0
4. JNZ step 1 

TSL Instruction

However, the solution provided in the above segment provides mutual exclusion to some extent but it doesn't make sure that the mutual exclusion will always be there. There is a possibility of having more than one process in the critical section.

What if the process gets preempted just after executing the first instruction of the assembly code written in section 2? In that case, it will carry the old value of lock variable with it and it will enter into the critical section regardless of knowing the current value of lock variable. This may make the two processes present in the critical section at the same time.

To get rid of this problem, we have to make sure that the preemption must not take place just after loading the previous value of lock variable and before setting it to 1. The problem can be solved if we can be able to merge the first two instructions.

In order to address the problem, the operating system provides a special instruction called Test Set Lock (TSL) instruction which simply loads the value of lock variable into the local register R0 and sets it to 1 simultaneously

The process which executes the TSL first will enter into the critical section and no other process after that can enter until the first process comes out. No process can execute the critical section even in the case of preemption of the first process.

The assembly code of the solution will look like following.

  1. TSL Lock, R0
  2. CMP R0, #0
  3. JNZ step 1

Let's examine TSL on the basis of the four conditions.

  • Mutual Exclusion
  • Mutual Exclusion is guaranteed in TSL mechanism since a process can never be preempted just before setting the lock variable. Only one process can see the lock variable as 0 at a particular time and that's why, the mutual exclusion is guaranteed.

  • Progress
  • According to the definition of the progress, a process which doesn't want to enter in the critical section should not stop other processes to get into it. In TSL mechanism, a process will execute the TSL instruction only when it wants to get into the critical section. The value of the lock will always be 0 if no process doesn't want to enter into the critical section hence the progress is always guaranteed in TSL.

  • Bounded Waiting
  • Bounded Waiting is not guaranteed in TSL. Some process might not get a chance for so long. We cannot predict for a process that it will definitely get a chance to enter in critical section after a certain time.

  • Architectural Neutrality
  • TSL doesn't provide Architectural Neutrality. It depends on the hardware platform. The TSL instruction is provided by the operating system. Some platforms might not provide that. Hence it is not Architectural natural.


os TSL Instruction




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