Intel® Threading Building Blocks (Intel® TBB) provides highly concurrent container classes. These containers can be used with raw Windows* OS or Linux* OS threads, or in conjunction with task-based programming.

A concurrent container allows multiple threads to concurrently access and update items in the container. Typical C++ STL containers do not permit concurrent update; attempts to modify them concurrently often result in corrupting the container. STL containers can be wrapped in a mutex to make them safe for concurrent access, by letting only one thread operate on the container at a time, but that approach eliminates concurrency, thus restricting parallel speedup.

Containers provided by Intel TBB offer a much higher level of concurrency, via one or both of the following methods:

  • Fine-grained locking: Multiple threads operate on the container by locking only those portions they really need to lock. As long as different threads access different portions, they can proceed concurrently.

  • Lock-free techniques: Different threads account and correct for the effects of other interfering threads.

Notice that highly-concurrent containers come at a cost. They typically have higher overheads than regular STL containers. Operations on highly-concurrent containers may take longer than for STL containers. Therefore, use highly-concurrent containers when the speedup from the additional concurrency that they enable outweighs their slower sequential performance.

CAUTION

As with most objects in C++, the constructor or destructor of a container object must not be invoked concurrently with another operation on the same object. Otherwise the resulting race may cause the operation to be executed on an undefined object.

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