In search of a thread-safe Phoenix Singleton

I'm working on a project where I need a C++ object which has the following constraints:

  1. There can be a limited number of instances of the object at a time
  2. Since creating an instance locks down system resources that other applications might need to use, instances need to be created and destroyed on demand.
  3. The implementation needs to be thread-safe. Further, it would be nice if the number of instances could be limited on a per thread basis.
  4. It seems best to have the object be stack-based, but I'm not sure if this is an absolute requirement. It would make for cleaner code in the long run, but since my object will likely be called from some older, legacy code, it may not be possible to enforce this limitation until we've had time to clean up that old code more thoroughly.

My investigations led me to the Singleton pattern, and various implementations thereof. For various reading, you can refer to An Exception Correct C++ Singleton Template Base Class with Controlled Destruction Order, More Effective C++, Chapter 26 Limiting the Number of Objects of a Class, and Modern C++ Design, Chapter 6, Implementing Singletons. None is perfect for my needs. Reality Check has information on adding thread-safety to the canonical Singleton using the Double-Check pattern. Scott Meyers also has an article on Counting Objects in C++ that's useful.

The main reason most examples fail is that they cannot be created and destroyed on demand. They assume a persistent object that's destroyed near program termination. The Phoenix Singleton described in Modern C++ Design is close, but the code is baroque, and I'm not convinced it meets my needs. The Object Counting Base Class, Counted<class> looks like the best bet, and most nearly meets my needs, except for thread-safety, which I may be able to add using Double-Check. The investigation continues.

It looks like Double-Check won't provide the thread safety I need. The "Double-Checked Locking is Broken" Declaration provides more information.

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 14:09:26.