Asynchronous Programming with Seastar

Nadav Har’El -

Avi Kivity -

Back to table of contents. Previous: 17 Introducing Seastar’s network stack. Next: 19 Shutting down cleanly.

18 Sharded services

In the previous section we saw that a Seastar application usually needs to run its code on all available CPU cores. We saw that the seastar::smp::submit_to() function allows the main function, which initially runs only on the first core, to start the server’s code on all seastar::smp::count cores.

However, usually one needs not just to run code on each core, but also to have an object that contains the state of this code. Additionally, one may like to interact with those different objects, and also have a mechanism to stop the service running on the different cores.

The seastar::sharded<T> template provides a structured way create such a sharded service. It creates a separate object of type T in each core, and provides mechanisms to interact with those copies, to start some code on each, and finally to cleanly stop the service.

To use seastar::sharded, first create a class for the object holding the state of the service on a single core. For example:

#include <seastar/core/future.hh>
#include <iostream>

class my_service {
    std::string _str;
    my_service(const std::string& str) : _str(str) { }
    seastar::future<> run() {
        std::cerr << "running on " << seastar::engine().cpu_id() <<
            ", _str = " << _str << \n";
        return seastar::make_ready_future<>();
    seastar::future<> stop() {
        return seastar::make_ready_future<>();

The only mandatory method in this object is stop(), which will be called in each core when we want to stop the sharded service and want to wait until it stops on all cores.

Now let’s see how to use it:

#include <seastar/core/sharded.hh>

seastar::sharded<my_service> s;

seastar::future<> f() {
    return s.start(std::string("hello")).then([] {
        return s.invoke_on_all([] (my_service& local_service) {
    }).then([] {
        return s.stop();

The s.start() starts the service by creating a my_service object on each of the cores. The arguments to s.start(), if any (in this example, std::string("hello")), are passed to my_service’s constructor.

But s.start() did not start running any code yet (besides the object’s constructor). For that, we have the s.invoke_on_all() which runs the given lambda on all the cores - giving each lambda the local my_service object on that core. In this example, we have a run() method on each object, so we run that.

Finally, at the end of the run we want to give the service on all cores a chance to shut down cleanly, so we call s.stop(). This will call the stop() method on each core’s object, and wait for all of them to finish. Calling s.stop() before destroying s is mandatory - Seastar will warn you if you forget to do it.

In addition to invoke_on_all() which runs the same code on all shards, another feature a sharded service often needs is for one shard to invoke code another specific shard. This is done by calling the sharded service’s invoke_on() method. For example:

seastar::sharded<my_service> s;
return s.invoke_on(0, [] (my_service& local_service) {
    std::cerr << "invoked on " << seastar::engine().cpu_id() <<
        ", _str = " << local_service._str << "\n";

This runs the lambda function on shard 0, with a reference to the local my_service object on that shard.