Assignment: LL/SC

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Synchronization and Interprocess Communication

This assignment is a Xinu assignment allowing the student to grow a more firm understanding of how an operating system works. This assignment is part of the Student Built Xinu track for professors that are Teaching With Xinu. Written answers to the analysis questions should be put into a file called system/ANALYSIS.txt and submitted with the code. The entire directory containing the operating system should be turned in during the submission process.

This assignment includes a LAB REPORT. Include your lab report in a file called login.pdf, (with your login name,) in the top-level directory of your xinu-hw6.

After completion of this assignment we will have a basic operating system with preemptive, priority scheduling of processes, counting semaphores with wait queues as synchronization primitives and interprocess communication with bounded buffers.


In a system with preemption, we must now guard against being interrupted while in the middle of an atomic operation. There are many points in operating system code where an unfortunately timed interrupt could leave the system in an inconsistent state.

For example, in the resched() function, there are several lines of C code (which translate into many more lines of machine code) between the point where the outgoing running process is put back into the queue of ready processes and the point where an incoming process is dequeued and set to running. If an interrupt were to take place in the midst of this transition, the interrupt handling code might see the system in an inconsistent state, in which there doesn't seem to be a currently running process. For this reason, we consider process rescheduling to be atomic with respect to the rest of the operating system. The easiest way to enforce this is to temporarily disable interrupts during a critical, atomic section of code, and then reenable them when done.

The new file system/intr.S contains functions enable(), disable(), and restore() for manipulating the master bit that enables processor interrupts. From this point forward, these functions must be used judiciously to guard atomic sections in the operating system functions you write.


First, make a fresh copy of your work thus far.

  cp -R <old Xinu directory> <new Xinu directory>

Untar the new project files on top of this new directory:

  tar xvzf <tar-ball location>

You should now see the new project files in with your old files. Be certain to make clean before compiling for the first time.


With this assignment you must learn about and understand classic semaphores before using them to implement the remainder of the assignment. An implementation of classic semaphores with waiting queues has been provided for you. Please examine and understand the implementation which can be found across several files including include/semaphore.h, system/newsem.c, system/signal.c and system/wait.c. As part of the analysis portion of this assignment, you will need to write a main file to show your understanding of semaphores.


Using the provided semaphore structure, implement producers and consumers that communicate using a Bounded-Buffer. Your textbook provides discussion of the Bounded-Buffer Problem beginning in section 6.6.1, and outlines this assignment as Programming Project 6.40 - Producer-Consumer Problem.

Segments of the textbook code are already given for you in system/testcases.c. Complete the project as specified in the text with slight adjustments as noted in the testcases TODOs. Answer the analysis questions below in your lab report.

Synchronization Hardware

Disabling all interrupts is an effective but heavy-handed approach for providing mutual exclusion. Multicore systems and complex real-time systems often cannot afford to disable interrupts, and rely more on hardware support for atomic updates.

The assembly code in system/testAndSet.S implements the testAndSet() operation (ala Figure 6.4 in your textbook[1]) using the MIPS LL/SC (load-linked and store-conditional) opcodes. Much more complex synchronization primitives can be built on top of simple atomic opcode combinations such as there.

Build mutexAcquire() and mutexRelease() in system/mutex.c using the bounded-waiting algorithm presented in Figure 6.8 of your textbook[1].

Lab Report

For the lab report portion of this assignment, you should typeset a document containing your analysis of the system components introduced. A sample report format is given HERE. We expect the report to be written with your exemplary literacy skills.

What are we reporting on? Once you have the Producer/Consumer implementation working with the provided semaphore API, consider the following questions:

  1. Does it matter which process runs first, the producer or the consumer?
  2. What happens when there are multiple producers and consumers?
  3. What happens when the producer(s) priority is higher than the consumer(s)? Vice-versa?

For each of these, form a hypothesis, construct an experiment (testcases), and draw appropriate conclusions. There is no benefit in fudging your hypotheses after you know the answer; the quality of a lab report is orthogonal to whether your hypothesis was correct or not.

For part two of the assignment, use your bounded-wait mutexAcquire() and mutexRelease() to prevent your producers/consumers from breaking up kprintf() calls mid-line without additional disabling of interrupts. Consider the following questions:

  1. Can your bounded-wait mutex subsystem replace the semaphore subsystem for this task?
  2. Under what conditions in the embedded operating system will the mutex subsystem not work as designed?
  3. Can you deadlock your producer and consumer?

I rewrote the testAndSet() MIPS code from lab today to correspond more closely to the semantics used in the textbook chapter 6[1]. There is an example of the lab report format, and analysis questions to report upon in the final section. Typeset your lab report with whatever software you are comfortable with.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Silberschatz, A., Galvin, P. B., and Gagne, G. 2009 Operating System Concepts. 8th. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.