1 Concurrent programming in GHC
This page contains notes and information about how to write concurrent programs in GHC.
Please feel free to add stuff here (Edit page link at the bottom).
1.1 Starting points
- Basic concurrency: forkIO and MVars. Read Tackling the awkward squad: monadic input/output, concurrency, exceptions, and foreign-language calls in Haskell.
The original paper about Concurrent Haskell contains quite a few examples about how to write concurrent programs. A larger example is Writing High-Performance Server Applications in Haskell, Case Study: A Haskell Web Server
- Software Transactional Memory (STM) is a new way to coordinate concurrent threads. STM will be in GHC 6.6, and is described in the paper Composable memory transactions. The paper Lock-free data structures using Software Transactional Memory in Haskell gives further examples of concurrent programming using STM.
- Foreign function interface. If you are calling foreign functions in a concurrent program, you need to know about bound threads. They are described in a Haskell workshop paper, Extending the Haskell Foreign Function Interface with Concurrency.
1.2 Using concurrency in GHC
- You get access to concurrency operations by importing the library Control.Concurrent.
- The GHC manual gives a few useful flags that control scheduling (not usually necessary) RTS options.
1.3 Multiprocessor GHC
As of version 6.5, GHC supports running programs in parallel on an SMP or multi-core machine. How to do it:
- You'll need to get a version of GHC that supports SMP. Either download ghc from CVS or use darcs: darcs get --partial http://darcs.haskell.org/ghc. There are also nightly snapshot distributions available.
- All code currently has to be built using the -smp switch, including the libraries. If you downloaded a binary snapshot, then you already have the required libraries. If you build GHC from source, you need to add
GhcLibWays += sto the file mk/build.mk in the build tree before building.
- Compile your program with -smp
- Run the program with +RTS -N2 to use 2 threads, for example. You should use a -N value equal to the number of CPU cores on your machine (not including Hyper-threading cores).
- Concurrent threads (forkIO and forkOS) will run in parallel, and you can also use the par combinator and Strategies from the Control.Parallel.Strategies module to create parallelism.
- Use +RTS -sstderr for timing stats.