[hibernate-dev] Clustering and UpdateTimestampsCache

Brian Stansberry brian.stansberry at redhat.com
Tue Oct 23 19:17:53 EDT 2007

Wanted to raise a point about about timestamps cache handling in case 
there's any desire to change the UpdateTimestampsCache API in 3.3.

AIUI, a goal of UpdateTimestampsCache is to ensure the cached timestamp 
never moves backward in time *except* when a caller that has set the 
timestamp to a far-in-the-future value in preInvalidate() later comes 
back and calls invalidate(), passing the current time.

There's a race in UpdateTimestampsCache where this could break under 
concurrent load.  For example, you could see:

(now = 0)
tx1 : preInvalidate(60);
(now = 1)
tx2 : preInvalidate(61);
tx1 : cache queryA w/ timestamp 1
tx1 : invalidate(1)
tx2 : update entity in a way that would query A results
tx2 : read queryA; check timestamp; 1 == 1 so passes. Wrong!

To deal with this, there are some comments in UpdateTimestampsCache 
about having preInvalidate() return some sort of Lock object, which 
would then be returned as a param to invalidate(). Idea here is to 
ensure that only the caller that most recently called preInvalidate is 
allowed to call invalidate.

That could work if the backing TimestampsRegion isn't clustered, but it 
doesn't address the fact that a clustered TimestampsRegion can be 
getting updates not only via the local UpdateTimestampsCache, but also 
asynchronously over the network.  If a clustered TimestampsRegion gets a 
replicated update that moves the timestamp back in time, it has no 
simple way to know if this is because 1) a peer that earlier replicated 
  a high preinvalidate value is now replicating a normal invalidate 
value or 2) an earlier change from peer A has arrived *after* a later 
change from peer B.

This could be addressed with a change to the TimestampsRegion API. 
Basically replace

public void put(Object key, Object value) throws CacheException;


public void preInvalidate(Object key, Object value) throws CacheException;
public void invalidate(Object key, Object value, Object 
preInvalidateValue) throws CacheException;

Basically the value that is passed to preInvalidate is also passed as a 
2nd param to invalidate.  This gives the TimestampsRegion the 
information it needs to properly track preinvalidations vs invalidations.

The UpdateTimestampsCache API is then changed to provide the caller with 
the timestamp in preInvalidate() and take it back in invalidate():

public synchronized Object preinvalidate(Serializable[] spaces) throws 
CacheException {
     Long ts = new Long( region.nextTimestamp() + region.getTimeout() );
     for ( int i=0; i<spaces.length; i++ ) {
         region.preInvalidate( spaces[i], ts );
     return ts;

public synchronized void invalidate(Serializable[] spaces, Object 
preInvalidateValue) throws CacheException {
     Long ts = new Long( region.nextTimestamp() );
     for ( int i=0; i<spaces.length; i++ ) {
         region.invalidate( spaces[i], ts, preInvalidateValue );

This is basically similar to the Lock concept in the 
UpdateTimestampsCache comments; but the control over the update is 
delegated to the TimestampsRegion.

The issue here is the UpdateTimestampsCache caller needs to hold onto 
the value returned by preInvalidate() and then pass it back.  Likely 
requires a change to Executable to provide a holder for it.

A change to the TimestampsRegion API has no benefit without a 
corresponding change in UpdateTimestampsCache and its caller.

Brian Stansberry
Lead, AS Clustering
JBoss, a division of Red Hat
brian.stansberry at redhat.com

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