atomic operation


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atomic operation

[ə′täm·ik ‚äp·ə′rā·shən]
(computer science)
An operation that cannot be broken up into smaller parts that could be performed by different processors.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

atomic

Indivisible. An atomic operation, or atomicity, implies an operation that must be performed entirely or not at all. For example, if machine failure prevents a transaction to be processed to completion, the system will be rolled back to the start of the transaction. See two-phase commit and atom.
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Instead of parallel loops with coarse-grain barrier synchronization, the computations are structured as a set of lightweight threads that synchronize using fine-grained atomic operations. The implementation of these atomic operations has a critical impact on the performance and resource consumption of the generated parallel code.
The standard implementation mechanism for atomic operations uses mutual exclusion locks.
Atomic operations that use optimistic synchronization use a load-linked primitive to retrieve the initial value in an updated memory location.
This article describes our experience using optimistic synchronization to implement atomic operations in the context of a parallelizing compiler for object-based programs.