[Tinyos-help] questions about usage of keyword atomic

Eric Decker cire831 at gmail.com
Tue Aug 28 00:52:29 PDT 2012

On Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 6:59 PM, Xiaohui Liu <whulxh at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hello all,
> 1) I have the following code snippet:
> *uint8_t a;*
> *
> *
> *async event void Alarm1.fired() {*
> *   a = 0;*
> *}*
> This compiles successfully without any warning.

> Isn't there a racing condition here, between Alarm1 and itself?

I don't know what you mean by the above.   How can Alarm1 have a race
condition with itself?

Looks to me like in the above program there is only one place where a is
accessed, so how can there be a race condition.

> 2) If the following is added.
> *async event void Alarm2.fired() {*
> *   a = 1;*
> *}*
> Still, this compiles successfully without any warning. Isn't there an
> additional racing condition here, between Alarm1 and Alarm2 (and Alarm2 and
> itself)?

async is considered to be one level of execution.   So there still isn't a
race condition.   When Alarm1 fires, a gets set to 0.   Alarm2 can not get
in and thus there is not a race condition.

this is a nesc assumption.   That async is one level of execution  (one

> 3) If the following is added.
> *event void Timer.fired() {*
> *  a = 2;*
> *}*
> Then there is a warning, "non-atomic accesses to shared variable `a'". Why
> is there no warning for
> *a = 0;*
> in Alarm1?

Why do you expect a warning from Alarm1?

Timer.fired is at sync level.   Sync level is the other nesc execution
context.   Because there is access to a from the async level nesc beleives
that there is a potential race condition between the Alarms (async level)
and Timer.fired (sync level).   Hence non-atomic accesses.

> According to the TinyOS book P196, a variable has to be protected by an
> atomic statement "*if it is accessed from an async function*". But seems
> to me, *"a"* is accessed from an async function in all 3 cases above and
> none is protected except
> *a = 0;*
> in Timer.

The book isn't very clear.

Typically async level is used for functions called from interrupt level

> Can anybody please share the experience on atomic? Thanks in advance.
> --
> -Xiaohui Liu
> _______________________________________________
> Tinyos-help mailing list
> Tinyos-help at millennium.berkeley.edu
> https://www.millennium.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/tinyos-help

Eric B. Decker
Senior (over 50 :-) Researcher
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