I'm sure mutex isn't enough that's the reason the concept of condition variables exist; but it beats me and I'm not able to convince myself with a concrete scenario when a condition variable is essential.
Differences between Conditional variables, Mutexes and Locks question's accepted answer says that a condition variable is a
lock with a "signaling" mechanism. It is used when threads need to wait for a resource to become available. A thread can "wait" on a CV and then the resource producer can "signal" the variable, in which case the threads who wait for the CV get notified and can continue execution
Where I get confused is that, a thread can wait on a mutex too, and when it gets signalled, is simply means the variable is now available, why would I need a condition variable?
P.S.: Also, a mutex is required to guard the condition variable anyway, when makes my vision more askew towards not seeing condition variable's purpose.
Even though you can use them in the way you describe, mutexes weren't designed for use as a notification/synchronization mechanism. They are meant to provide mutually exclusive access to a shared resource. Using mutexes to signal a condition is awkward and I suppose would look something like this (where Thread1 is signaled by Thread2):
lock(mutex); // Blocks waiting for notification from Thread2
... // do work after notification is received
unlock(mutex); // Tells Thread2 we are done
... // do the work that precedes notification
unlock(mutex); // unblocks Thread1
lock(mutex); // lock the mutex so Thread1 will block again
There are several problems with this:
These two problems aren't minor, in fact, they are both major design flaws and latent bugs. The origin of both of these problems is the requirement that a mutex is locked and unlocked within the same thread. So how do you avoid the above problems? Use condition variables!
BTW, if your synchronization needs are really simple, you could use a plain old semaphore which avoids the additional complexity of condition variables.