Operating System

Semaphore Implementation

Semaphore Implementation

Semaphore Implementation

The main disadvantage of the mutual-exclusion solutions and of the semaphore definition given here is that they all require busy waiting. While a process is in its critical section, any other process that tries to enter its critical section must loop continuously in the entry code. This continual looping is clearly a problem in a real multiprogramming system, where a single CPU is

shared among many processes. Busy waiting wastes CPU cycles that some other process might be able to use productively. This type of semaphore is also called a spinlock (because the process “spins” while waiting for the lock). Spinlocks are useful in multiprocessor systems. The advantage of a spinlock is that no context switch is required when a process must wait on a lock, and a context switch may take considerable time. Thus, when locks are expected to be held for short times, spinlocks are useful.

To overcome the need for busy waiting, we can modify the definition of the wait and signal semaphore operations. When a process executes the wait operation and finds that the semaphore value is not positive, it must wait. However, rather than busy waiting, the process can block itself. The block operation places a process into a waiting queue associated with the semaphore, and the state of the process is switched to the waiting state. Then, control is transferred to the CPU scheduler, which selects another process to execute.

A process that is blocked, waiting on a semaphore S, should be restarted when some other process executes a signal operation. The process is restarted by a wake-up operation, which changes the process from the waiting state to the ready state. The process is then placed in the ready queue. (The CPU may or may not be switched from the running process to the newly ready process, depending on the CPU-scheduling algorithm.)

To implement semaphores under this definition, we define a semaphore as a “C” struct:-

typedef struct {
int value ;
struct process *L;
) semaphore;

Each semaphore has an integer value and a list of processes. When a process must wait on a semaphore, it is added to the list of processes. A signal operation removes one process from the list of waiting processes and awakens that process.

The wait semaphore operation can now be defined as

void wait(semaphore S) {
if (S.value < 0) {
add this process to S . L;
block() ;

The signal semaphore operation can now be defined as

void signal(semaphore S) {
if (S.value <= 0) {
remove a process P from S . L ;
wakeup (PI) ;

The block operation suspends the process that invokes it. The wakeup(P1) operation resumes the execution of a blocked process P. These two operations are provided by the operating system as basic system calls.

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