Language safety in a multithread environment (Lock-free structures)

Article: Fall Processor Forum 2006: IBM's POWER6
By: Ray (a.delete@this.b.c), October 28, 2006 4:47 pm
Room: Moderated Discussions
Linus Torvalds (torvalds@osdl.org) on 10/28/06 wrote:
---------------------------
>Ray (a@b.c) on 10/28/06 wrote:
>>
>>Perhaps there is an option not considered here? What about
>>lock-free structures?
>
>And in the end, even lockfree algorithms aren't really
>"free" either. They just don't use a particular lock to
>serialize, they use other things to synchronize execution
>(ie memory ordering rules together with atomic updates
>of datastructures). The lack of locking usually does not
>actually make things all that much faster, since usually
>the cost of locking is exactly the synchronization that
>you need to do anyway.

I think your emphasis on speed (now) is making you miss something, here.

>So quite often, a lock-free algorithm doesn't actually
>do much for performance, although it can be a way to avoid
>the allocation overhead of a lock (ie you could
>get the exact same performance by having a lock at each
>hash list entry, but you may want to make the hash table
>smaller, so you use a lockless algorithm to avoid having
>the actual allocation overhead for the lock itself).

I think this might be a case for a software analog to your CPU memory ordering argument. My experience is that (commercial) programmers generally suck. I wouldn't trust an average programmer to implement a reliable solution to a dining philosopher problem, no matter what locking primitives he has access to. If he decides to use something that is a pointer to something else, then god help us all, because he'll find a way to screw that up too. Perhaps I am a bit biased, but I was paid for quite a while to run around and clean up after such programmers.

The nifty thing about some lock-free abstractions is that they make it impossible to deadlock. They make it much easier to write a program that is correct. There is no worrying about accessing a shared variable, nor deadlocking, nor (maybe) livelocking.

I think this is one of those times when correctness beats the fastest thing possible, especially since I am thinking of (slower) languages like Python.

It might be hard to debug lock-free algorithms, but I think that matters less, because the real propellor heads (the language writers themselves) will be doing the implementation. ie. We're not talking about average programmers any more. If the language writers do it right, the users of the language will never have to know much about lock-free algorithms, nor debug them.

And if they do it right, the rest of the world will just become more productive and less buggy. Eventually, the language writers will possibly even figure out how to do it really fast. That sounds a lot like your memory-ording argument to me.

>Btw, that's likely one reason user-space programs like
>lockfree algorithms: not because they are faster, but
>because they can sometimes work in situations where you'd
>otherwise have to limit asynchronous events, and that
>can be either impossible or just very expensive (eg doing
>a "block all signals" is an expensive system call, so
>if your choice is "lockless" vs "locking with blocking",
>the lockless can have advantages).

There is an implementation (jackdmp) of the jack audio server that makes good use of lock free algorithms to stop dropouts when synchronous clients connect or disconnect, and it is a huge improvement, I think. So yeah, I agree.

>In the kernel space, you can usually avoid recursion
>deadlocks by just disabling interrupts, which is relatively
>cheap compared to disabling signal handling in user space.

Hm. Kernel programmers probably have a better idea what they are doing, quite frankly. :-)

-Ray
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TopicPosted ByDate
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                          Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/10/19 11:43 AM
                            Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/19 12:11 PM
                              Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/10/19 02:23 PM
                                Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/19 04:08 PM
                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/10/20 05:04 AM
                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/20 01:53 PM
                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/10/20 02:06 PM
                                      PSRicardo B2006/10/20 02:12 PM
                                        PSTzvetan Mikov2006/10/20 03:30 PM
                          Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/10/20 01:26 AM
                            Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/20 01:34 PM
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                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/22 09:42 AM
                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/23 09:35 AM
                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/23 04:06 PM
                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/23 11:55 PM
                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/24 07:35 AM
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                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/25 07:52 AM
                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/25 09:01 AM
                                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/25 05:24 PM
                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentS. Rao2006/10/25 06:08 PM
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                                                          Hang on I forgot the other approachesRob Thorpe2006/10/26 10:27 AM
                                                            Hang on I forgot the other approachesS. Rao2006/10/26 02:16 PM
                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/10/26 03:56 AM
                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/26 07:52 AM
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                                                            "Safety" and different types of safetyRob Thorpe2006/10/26 08:58 AM
                                                              "Safety" and different types of safetyLinus Torvalds2006/10/26 09:26 AM
                                                                "Safety" and different types of safetyRob Thorpe2006/10/26 09:50 AM
                                                                  "Safety" and different types of safetyTzvetan Mikov2006/10/26 10:56 AM
                                                                    Exactly!Gabriele Svelto2006/10/27 12:29 AM
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                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/26 10:45 AM
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                                                            Information and ickiness on JavaRob Thorpe2006/10/27 04:38 AM
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                                                                Excellent threadsp2006/10/28 12:38 AM
                                                              Information and ickiness on JavaTzvetan Mikov2006/10/27 05:12 PM
                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/26 08:17 AM
                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/26 08:57 AM
                                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/26 09:38 AM
                                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentS. Rao2006/10/26 02:51 PM
                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/27 01:26 AM
                                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/27 08:40 AM
                                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/27 09:06 AM
                                                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/27 10:53 AM
                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentrwessel2006/10/27 03:21 PM
                                                                        Explicit vs implicit barriersTzvetan Mikov2006/10/27 05:39 PM
                                                                          Explicit vs implicit barriersLinus Torvalds2006/10/27 06:28 PM
                                                                            Explicit vs implicit barriersTzvetan Mikov2006/10/28 06:02 PM
                                                                              Explicit vs implicit barriersLinus Torvalds2006/10/28 07:55 PM
                                                                                Explicit vs implicit barriersRob Thorpe2006/10/31 12:37 PM
                                                                            Explicit vs implicit barriersRob Thorpe2006/10/31 12:15 PM
                                                                          Explicit vs implicit barriersrwessel2006/10/27 06:39 PM
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                                                                        Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Linus Torvalds2006/10/28 04:29 PM
                                                                          Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Ricardo B2006/10/30 06:36 AM
                                                                            Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Linus Torvalds2006/10/30 09:57 AM
                                                                              Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Tzvetan Mikov2006/10/30 11:55 AM
                                                                                Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Michael S2006/10/30 12:14 PM
                                                                                  Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Tzvetan Mikov2006/10/30 12:20 PM
                                                                                    Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Michael S2006/10/30 01:11 PM
                                                                                      A reference would be nice :-) (NT)Tzvetan Mikov2006/10/30 01:32 PM
                                                                                        A reference Michael S2006/10/30 03:37 PM
                                                                                          A reference Tzvetan Mikov2006/11/03 08:57 PM
                                                                                            check your e-mbox (NT)Michael S2006/11/04 12:47 PM
                                                                                      Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?David Kanter2006/10/30 01:40 PM
                                                                                        Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Michael S2006/10/30 02:28 PM
                                                                                          Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?David Kanter2006/10/30 02:43 PM
                                                                                            Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Michael S2006/10/30 04:36 PM
                                                                                              Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?David Kanter2006/10/30 10:14 PM
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                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/31 11:25 AM
                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/31 12:59 PM
                                                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/31 01:38 PM
                                                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/31 02:02 PM
                                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/31 03:54 PM
                                                                                Will reply tommorrow, very busy today (NT)Rob Thorpe2006/11/01 11:14 AM
                                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/11/02 01:30 PM
                                                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentrwessel2006/11/02 02:06 PM
                                                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/03 02:39 AM
                                                                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/11/03 09:40 AM
                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/03 10:12 AM
                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/11/03 01:20 PM
                                                                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/06 03:42 AM
                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentEric Bron2006/11/04 04:47 AM
                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/06 04:13 AM
                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/04 12:29 PM
                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/11/04 02:54 PM
                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/06 03:54 AM
                                                                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/06 12:26 PM
                                                                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/07 01:54 AM
                                                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/07 04:34 PM
                                                                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/08 02:29 AM
                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentrwessel2006/11/04 10:13 PM
                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentrwessel2006/11/04 10:23 PM
                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentMichael S2006/11/05 04:05 AM
                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/11/05 10:14 AM
                                                                                          unaligned SSE testsEric Bron2006/11/05 02:26 PM
                                                                                            unaligned SSE testsMichael S2006/11/05 03:47 PM
                                                                                              unaligned SSE testsEric Bron2006/11/05 04:23 PM
                                                                                                unaligned SSE testsMichael S2006/11/05 05:03 PM
                                                                                                  unaligned SSE testsEric Bron2006/11/05 05:28 PM
                                                                                                    Now results make sense. How about Psc? (NT)Michael S2006/11/05 05:37 PM
                                                                                                      tomorrow, it's 01:43 PM where I'm (NT)Eric Bron2006/11/05 05:44 PM
                                                                                                        I mean 01:43 AM (NT)Eric Bron2006/11/05 05:45 PM
                                                                                                      PSC scoresEric Bron2006/11/06 02:25 AM
                                                                                                        PSC scoresMichael S2006/11/06 04:28 AM
                                                                                                          PSC scoresIan Ameline2006/11/06 09:00 AM
                                                                                                            meaningful performance gainMichael S2006/11/06 09:33 AM
                                                                                                              meaningful performance gainLinus Torvalds2006/11/06 11:15 AM
                                                                                                                Dynamically resolved alignmentDavid Kanter2006/11/06 12:49 PM
                                                                                                                  Dynamically resolved alignmentRicardo B2006/11/06 01:46 PM
                                                                                                                  Dynamically resolved alignmentLinus Torvalds2006/11/06 01:48 PM
                                                                                                                meaningful performance gainEric Bron2006/11/07 02:23 AM
                                                                                                        RE: "I suppose we will have to continue to align" ...Not really :)redpriest2006/11/06 05:11 PM
                                                                                                          Your point?Michael S2006/11/06 05:47 PM
                                                                                                            Actually Michael, it's quite a bit more than that.redpriest2006/11/06 06:30 PM
                                                                                                              Actually Michael, it's quite a bit more than that.anonymous2006/11/06 08:36 PM
                                                                                                                Actually Michael, it's quite a bit more than that.Linus Torvalds2006/11/06 09:01 PM
                                                                                                                  Actually Michael, it's quite a bit more than that.Rob Thorpe2006/11/07 03:31 AM
                                                                                                                  Actually Michael, it's quite a bit more than that.anonymous2006/11/07 07:27 AM
                                                                                                              link vs linqMichael S2006/11/07 02:04 AM
                                                                                                                link vs linqanonymous2006/11/07 07:13 AM
                                                                                                                  Thank you (NT)Michael S2006/11/07 08:04 AM
                                                                                                          Barcelona dreamsEric Bron2006/11/07 01:08 AM
                                                                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/05 03:14 PM
                                                                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/11/05 03:56 PM
                                                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/05 06:52 PM
                                                                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/11/05 09:09 PM
                                                                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/06 02:25 PM
                                                                                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/11/06 03:48 PM
                                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/06 04:44 PM
                                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/11/06 04:53 PM
                                                                                                        A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/07 09:45 AM
                                                                                                          A common problemWilco2006/11/09 04:46 PM
                                                                                                            A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/10 08:29 AM
                                                                                                              A common problemrwessel2006/11/13 04:47 PM
                                                                                                                A common problemWilco2006/11/13 05:51 PM
                                                                                                                  A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/14 03:38 AM
                                                                                                                    A common problemLinus Torvalds2006/11/14 09:37 AM
                                                                                                                      A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/14 11:18 AM
                                                                                                                        A common problemagony2006/11/14 02:57 PM
                                                                                                                          A common problemrwessel2006/11/14 04:13 PM
                                                                                                                            A common problemAndi Kleen2006/11/15 04:24 AM
                                                                                                                              A common problemrwessel2006/11/15 04:42 PM
                                                                                                                        A common problemDoug Siebert2006/11/14 09:50 PM
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                                                                                                                            x86 versus other platformsj2006/11/15 01:57 AM
                                                                                                                          A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/15 11:56 AM
                                                                                                                            A common problemWilco2006/11/15 01:54 PM
                                                                                                                              A common problemCarlie Coats2006/11/16 06:44 AM
                                                                                                                              A common problemLinus Torvalds2006/11/16 10:03 AM
                                                                                                                      A common problemCarlie Coats2006/11/16 06:38 AM
                                                                                                                        A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/16 07:29 AM
                                                                                                                    A common problemWilco2006/11/15 02:13 PM
                                                                                                                      A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/16 09:20 AM
                                                                                                                        A common problemrwessel2006/11/16 04:27 PM
                                                                                                                        A common problemWilco2006/11/17 02:20 PM
                                                                                                                          A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/20 04:14 AM
                                                                                          You are aiming too lowMichael S2006/11/05 04:19 PM
                                                                                            And you're aiming quite highRob Thorpe2006/11/06 08:00 AM
                                                                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/04 11:20 AM
                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/06 04:10 AM
                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/06 10:59 AM
                                                                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/08 02:47 AM
                                                                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/13 05:13 PM
                                                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/14 02:15 AM
                                                                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/17 02:51 PM
                                                                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentrwessel2006/11/04 10:11 PM
                                                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/11/03 09:58 AM
                                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentbandwidth2006/10/27 06:47 PM
                                                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/27 07:52 PM
                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/27 08:10 PM
                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentbandwidth2006/10/28 03:17 AM
                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentbandwidth2006/10/28 03:09 AM
                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/28 09:23 AM
                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/10/30 03:26 AM
                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/10/30 06:52 AM
                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentJasonB2006/10/30 07:12 AM
                                                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/10/30 07:28 AM
                                                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentJasonB2006/10/30 08:32 AM
                                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/10/30 08:48 AM
                                                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentJasonB2006/10/30 09:21 AM
                                                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/10/30 07:31 AM
                                                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/10/30 07:43 AM
                                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/10/30 07:54 AM
                                                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/10/30 08:02 AM
                                                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/10/30 08:12 AM
                                                                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/10/30 08:29 AM
                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/10/30 08:40 AM
                                                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentdraugaz2006/10/30 12:31 PM
                                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/30 10:09 AM
                                                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/10/31 02:01 AM
                                                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/31 08:59 AM
                                                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentpgerassi2006/10/27 08:00 PM
                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentbandwidth2006/10/28 03:25 AM
                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentpgerassi2006/10/31 01:32 AM
                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/31 06:52 AM
                                                        pythonFoo_2006/10/28 01:51 AM
                                                          pythonTzvetan Mikov2006/10/28 04:55 PM
                                                            pythonFoo_2006/10/29 03:51 AM
                                                          pythonRob Thorpe2006/10/31 05:01 AM
                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/24 10:53 AM
                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/25 01:00 AM
                                          Language safety in a multithread environment (Lock-free structures)Ray2006/10/28 11:25 AM
                                            Language safety in a multithread environment (Lock-free structures)Linus Torvalds2006/10/28 11:58 AM
                                              Language safety in a multithread environment (Lock-free structures)Ray2006/10/28 04:47 PM
                                                Language safety in a multithread environment (Lock-free structures)Linus Torvalds2006/10/28 08:02 PM
                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentJuho Snellman2006/10/25 03:59 AM
                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/25 04:38 AM
                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentJuho Snellman2006/10/25 06:38 AM
                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/25 07:06 AM
                                                More on this topicRob Thorpe2006/10/25 08:41 AM
                                                  More on this topicTzvetan Mikov2006/10/25 10:17 AM
                                                    More on this topicRob Thorpe2006/10/26 02:02 AM
                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentJuho Snellman2006/10/25 10:33 AM
                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/26 01:48 AM
                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentS. Rao2006/10/23 03:40 PM
                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/23 11:38 PM
                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/10/24 01:02 AM
                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentS. Rao2006/10/24 12:40 PM
                                        Comparison to stack allocationRob Thorpe2006/10/24 03:09 AM
                                          Comparison to stack allocationS. Rao2006/10/24 12:32 PM
                                            Exactly, see my other post (NT)Rob Thorpe2006/10/25 12:53 AM
                          Language safety in a multithread environmentDavid Wragg2006/10/20 02:46 AM
                            Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/21 09:24 AM
                          Ugh, evil problemRob Thorpe2006/10/20 03:56 AM
                            Ugh, evil problemGabriele Svelto2006/10/20 04:38 AM
                              Ugh, evil problemRob Thorpe2006/10/20 05:47 AM
                                Ugh, evil problemGabriele Svelto2006/10/20 05:54 AM
                                Ugh, evil problemRicardo B2006/10/20 06:43 AM
                            Ugh, evil problemJasonB2006/10/20 06:17 AM
                              Ugh, evil problemS. Rao2006/10/20 08:09 PM
                                Ugh, evil problemJasonB2006/10/21 07:58 AM
                                SecondedRob Thorpe2006/10/23 01:53 AM
                          Copying GC Rob Thorpe2006/10/23 02:51 AM
                            Copying GC Tzvetan Mikov2006/10/23 11:13 PM
                              Copying GC Rob Thorpe2006/10/24 01:22 AM
              Python + native extensionsFoo_2006/10/18 02:29 PM
                Python + native extensionssp2006/10/19 01:05 AM
  z9 - Power5 connection?foobar2006/10/17 01:15 PM
    z9 - Power5 connection?David Kanter2006/10/17 02:03 PM
      z9 - Power5 connection?foobar2006/10/17 02:33 PM
        z9 - Power5 connection?rwessel2006/10/17 07:39 PM
          z9 - Power5 connection?foobar2006/10/17 08:38 PM
            Sounds like I should edit the article...David Kanter2006/10/17 10:48 PM
            z9 - Power5 connection?Jesper Frimann2006/10/17 11:59 PM
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How do you spell avocado?