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by Jiří {x2} Činčura

.NET types that can be read and written atomically without the risk of tearing

12 Dec 2016 2 mins .NET, .NET Core, Multithreading/Parallelism/Asynchronous/Concurrency

I’m currently digging deep into memory models, processor architectures, kernels and so on. It’s a fun stuff. I’m learning so much and my brain is working so hard. With that I’m also digging into some “concurrent” internals in .NET, in last few days the ConcurrentDictionary<TKey, TValue> class. As I was there I found something helpful.

Take a look here. It’s a list of types where tearing doesn’t happen. Of course unless misaligned manually. Awesome!

/// <summary>
/// Determines whether type TValue can be written atomically
/// </summary>
private static bool IsValueWriteAtomic()
    // Section 12.6.6 of ECMA CLI explains which types can be read and written atomically without
    // the risk of tearing.
    // See
    Type valueType = typeof(TValue);
    bool isAtomic =
        !valueType.GetTypeInfo().IsValueType ||
        valueType == typeof(bool) ||
        valueType == typeof(char) ||
        valueType == typeof(byte) ||
        valueType == typeof(sbyte) ||
        valueType == typeof(short) ||
        valueType == typeof(ushort) ||
        valueType == typeof(int) ||
        valueType == typeof(uint) ||
        valueType == typeof(float);

    if (!isAtomic && IntPtr.Size == 8)
        isAtomic =
            valueType == typeof(double) ||
            valueType == typeof(long) ||
            valueType == typeof(ulong);

    return isAtomic;

Although I said it’s helpful, I don’t that mean anybody should rely on that. It’s good as brain training. Not for production level code. There’s a gazillion pieces that need to fit together to work correctly (platform, it’s memory model; compiler; JIT optimizations; …).

But for studying… Oh my.

Profile Picture Jiří Činčura is an independent developer, .NET, C# and Firebird expert, focusing on data and business layers, language constructs, parallelism, databases and performance. He's Microsoft Most Valuable Professional and frequent speaker. You can read his articles, guides and tips and tricks at