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6.49. Thread-Local Storage

Thread-local storage (TLS) is a mechanism by which variables are allocated such that there is one instance of the variable per extant thread. The run-time model GCC uses to implement this originates in the IA-64 processor-specific ABI, but has since been migrated to other processors as well. It requires significant support from the linker (ld), dynamic linker (ld.so), and system libraries (libc.so and libpthread.so), so it is not available everywhere.

At the user level, the extension is visible with a new storage class keyword: __thread. For example:

__thread int i;
extern __thread struct state s;
static __thread char *p;

The __thread specifier may be used alone, with the extern or static specifiers, but with no other storage class specifier. When used with extern or static, __thread must appear immediately after the other storage class specifier.

The __thread specifier may be applied to any global, file-scoped static, function-scoped static, or static data member of a class. It may not be applied to block-scoped automatic or non-static data member.

When the address-of operator is applied to a thread-local variable, it is evaluated at run-time and returns the address of the current thread's instance of that variable. An address so obtained may be used by any thread. When a thread terminates, any pointers to thread-local variables in that thread become invalid.

No static initialization may refer to the address of a thread-local variable.

In C++, if an initializer is present for a thread-local variable, it must be a constant-expression, as defined in 5.19.2 of the ANSI/ISO C++ standard.

See http://people.redhat.com/drepper/tls.pdfELF Handling For Thread-Local Storage for a detailed explanation of the four thread-local storage addressing models, and how the run-time is expected to function.

6.49.1. ISO/IEC 9899:1999 Edits for Thread-Local Storage

The following are a set of changes to ISO/IEC 9899:1999 (aka C99) that document the exact semantics of the language extension.

  • [5.1.2 Execution environments]

    Add new text after paragraph 1

    Within either execution environment, a thread is a flow of control within a program. It is implementation defined whether or not there may be more than one thread associated with a program. It is implementation defined how threads beyond the first are created, the name and type of the function called at thread startup, and how threads may be terminated. However, objects with thread storage duration shall be initialized before thread startup.

  • [6.2.4 Storage durations of objects]

    Add new text before paragraph 3

    An object whose identifier is declared with the storage-class specifier __thread has thread storage duration. Its lifetime is the entire execution of the thread, and its stored value is initialized only once, prior to thread startup.

  • [6.4.1 Keywords]

    Add __thread.

  • [6.7.1 Storage-class specifiers]

    Add __thread to the list of storage class specifiers in paragraph 1.

    Change paragraph 2 to

    With the exception of __thread, at most one storage-class specifier may be given […]. The __thread specifier may be used alone, or immediately following extern or static.

    Add new text after paragraph 6

    The declaration of an identifier for a variable that has block scope that specifies __thread shall also specify either extern or static.

    The __thread specifier shall be used only with variables.

6.49.2. ISO/IEC 14882:1998 Edits for Thread-Local Storage

The following are a set of changes to ISO/IEC 14882:1998 (aka C++98) that document the exact semantics of the language extension.

  • [intro.execution]

    New text after paragraph 4

    A thread is a flow of control within the abstract machine. It is implementation defined whether or not there may be more than one thread.

    New text after paragraph 7

    It is unspecified whether additional action must be taken to ensure when and whether side effects are visible to other threads.

  • [lex.key]

    Add __thread.

  • [basic.start.main]

    Add after paragraph 5

    The thread that begins execution at the main function is called the main thread. It is implementation defined how functions beginning threads other than the main thread are designated or typed. A function so designated, as well as the main function, is called a thread startup function. It is implementation defined what happens if a thread startup function returns. It is implementation defined what happens to other threads when any thread calls exit.

  • [basic.start.init]

    Add after paragraph 4

    The storage for an object of thread storage duration shall be statically initialized before the first statement of the thread startup function. An object of thread storage duration shall not require dynamic initialization.

  • [basic.start.term]

    Add after paragraph 3

    The type of an object with thread storage duration shall not have a non-trivial destructor, nor shall it be an array type whose elements (directly or indirectly) have non-trivial destructors.

  • [basic.stc]

    Add "thread storage duration" to the list in paragraph 1.

    Change paragraph 2

    Thread, static, and automatic storage durations are associated with objects introduced by declarations […].

    Add __thread to the list of specifiers in paragraph 3.

  • [basic.stc.thread]

    New section before [basic.stc.static]

    The keyword __thread applied to a non-local object gives the object thread storage duration.

    A local variable or class data member declared both static and __thread gives the variable or member thread storage duration.

  • [basic.stc.static]

    Change paragraph 1

    All objects which have neither thread storage duration, dynamic storage duration nor are local […].

  • [dcl.stc]

    Add __thread to the list in paragraph 1.

    Change paragraph 1

    With the exception of __thread, at most one storage-class-specifier shall appear in a given decl-specifier-seq. The __thread specifier may be used alone, or immediately following the extern or static specifiers. […]

    Add after paragraph 5

    The __thread specifier can be applied only to the names of objects and to anonymous unions.

  • [class.mem]

    Add after paragraph 6

    Non-static members shall not be __thread.

 
 
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