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wait, swait, completion

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Oct 28, 2021 created

Completion, swait, and wait are kernel APIs. They provide barrier-like semantics. They are easy to use and simple to understand as well.

The swait (simple waitqueue) was added to the kernel around 2016 by Peter Zijlstra. As the email (git log -p kernel/sched/swait.c) and comments in the file point out, they just want to have a simpler version for this frequently used data structure. The waitqueue has unnecessary overhead for simple use cases.

  • waitqueue can be found in kernel/sched/wait.c
  • swait can be found in kernel/sched/swait.c.
  • completion can be found in kernel/sched/completion.c

The swait and waiqueue_t are essentially the same: they are a queue of sleeping threads. They provide APIs for you to insert (sleep) and delete (wakeup) threads within the queue. I recommend start from swait, it is simple enough as long as you are familiar with kernel list ops.

The completion API essentially builds itself on top of swait. The complete() call directly call swake_up_locked(). I guess the only interesting thing is wait_for_completion().

static long __sched
wait_for_common(struct completion *x, long timeout, int state)
    return __wait_for_common(x, schedule_timeout, timeout, state);

All different flavors of wait eventually fall into the following func. It adds the current thread into the swait queue, change the thread state, then simply calls action() function pointer, which, in normal cases, is schedule_timeout(). So this is the place a thread goes to sleep and wait for the other thread to call complete().

static inline long __sched
do_wait_for_common(struct completion *x,
           long (*action)(long), long timeout, int state)
    if (!x->done) {

        do {
            if (signal_pending_state(state, current)) {
                timeout = -ERESTARTSYS;
            __prepare_to_swait(&x->wait, &wait);
            timeout = action(timeout);
        } while (!x->done && timeout);
        __finish_swait(&x->wait, &wait);
        if (!x->done)
            return timeout;
    if (x->done != UINT_MAX)
    return timeout ?: 1;


  • Documentation/scheduler/completion.rst

Last update: October 29, 2021


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