Inter-process communication

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A grid computing system that connects many personal computers over the Internet via inter-process network communication

In computer science, inter-process communication or interprocess communication (IPC) refers specifically to the mechanisms an operating system provides to allow the processes to manage shared data. Typically, applications can use IPC, categorized as clients and servers, where the client requests data and the server responds to client requests. [1] Many applications are both clients and servers, as commonly seen in distributed computing.

Contents

IPC is very important to the design process for microkernels and nanokernels, which reduce the number of functionalities provided by the kernel. Those functionalities are then obtained by communicating with servers via IPC, leading to a large increase in communication when compared to a regular monolithic kernel. IPC interfaces generally encompass variable analytic framework structures. These processes ensure compatibility between the multi-vector protocols upon which IPC models rely. [2]

An IPC mechanism is either synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronization primitives may be used to have synchronous behavior with an asynchronous IPC mechanism.

Approaches

Different approaches to IPC have been tailored to different software requirements, such as performance, modularity, and system circumstances such as network bandwidth and latency. [1]

MethodShort DescriptionProvided by (operating systems or other environments)
File A record stored on disk, or a record synthesized on demand by a file server, which can be accessed by multiple processes.Most operating systems
Communications fileA unique form of IPC in the late-1960s that most closely resembles Plan 9's 9P protocol Dartmouth Time-Sharing System
Signal; also Asynchronous System Trap A system message sent from one process to another, not usually used to transfer data but instead used to remotely command the partnered process.Most operating systems
Socket Data sent over a network interface, either to a different process on the same computer or to another computer on the network. Stream-oriented (TCP; data written through a socket requires formatting to preserve message boundaries) or more rarely message-oriented (UDP, SCTP).Most operating systems
Unix domain socket Similar to an internet socket, but all communication occurs within the kernel. Domain sockets use the file system as their address space. Processes reference a domain socket as an inode, and multiple processes can communicate with one socketAll POSIX operating systems and Windows 10 [3]
Message queue A data stream similar to a socket, but which usually preserves message boundaries. Typically implemented by the operating system, they allow multiple processes to read and write to the message queue without being directly connected to each other.Most operating systems
Anonymous pipe A unidirectional data channel using standard input and output. Data written to the write-end of the pipe is buffered by the operating system until it is read from the read-end of the pipe. Two-way communication between processes can be achieved by using two pipes in opposite "directions".All POSIX systems, Windows
Named pipe A pipe that is treated like a file. Instead of using standard input and output as with an anonymous pipe, processes write to and read from a named pipe, as if it were a regular file.All POSIX systems, Windows, AmigaOS 2.0+
Shared memory Multiple processes are given access to the same block of memory which creates a shared buffer for the processes to communicate with each other.All POSIX systems, Windows
Message passing Allows multiple programs to communicate using message queues and/or non-OS managed channels. Commonly used in concurrency models.Used in RPC, RMI, and MPI paradigms, Java RMI, CORBA, DDS, MSMQ, MailSlots, QNX, others
Memory-mapped file A file mapped to RAM and can be modified by changing memory addresses directly instead of outputting to a stream. This shares the same benefits as a standard file.All POSIX systems, Windows

Applications

Remote procedure call interfaces

Platform communication stack

The following are messaging and information systems that utilize IPC mechanisms, but don't implement IPC themselves:

Operating system communication stack

The following are platform or programming language-specific APIs:

Distributed object models

The following are platform or programming language specific-APIs that use IPC, but do not themselves implement it:

See also

Related Research Articles

Microkernel kernel that provides fewer services than a traditional kernel

In computer science, a microkernel is the near-minimum amount of software that can provide the mechanisms needed to implement an operating system (OS). These mechanisms include low-level address space management, thread management, and inter-process communication (IPC).

Mach is a kernel developed at Carnegie Mellon University to support operating system research, primarily distributed and parallel computing. Mach is often mentioned as one of the earliest examples of a microkernel. However, not all versions of Mach are microkernels. Mach's derivatives are the basis of the operating system kernel in GNU Hurd and of Apple's XNU kernel used in macOS, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS.

In distributed computing, a remote procedure call (RPC) is when a computer program causes a procedure (subroutine) to execute in a different address space, which is coded as if it were a normal (local) procedure call, without the programmer explicitly coding the details for the remote interaction. That is, the programmer writes essentially the same code whether the subroutine is local to the executing program, or remote. This is a form of client–server interaction, typically implemented via a request–response message-passing system. In the object-oriented programming paradigm, RPCs are represented by remote method invocation (RMI). The RPC model implies a level of location transparency, namely that calling procedures are largely the same whether they are local or remote, but usually they are not identical, so local calls can be distinguished from remote calls. Remote calls are usually orders of magnitude slower and less reliable than local calls, so distinguishing them is important.

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The V operating system is a discontinued microkernel operating system that was developed by faculty and students in the distributed systems group at Stanford University from 1981 to 1988, led by Professors David Cheriton and Keith A. Lantz. V was the successor to the Thoth and Verex operating systems that Cheriton had developed in the 1970s. Despite very similar names and close development dates, it is unrelated to UNIX System V.

In computing, a named pipe is an extension to the traditional pipe concept on Unix and Unix-like systems, and is one of the methods of inter-process communication (IPC). The concept is also found in OS/2 and Microsoft Windows, although the semantics differ substantially. A traditional pipe is "unnamed" and lasts only as long as the process. A named pipe, however, can last as long as the system is up, beyond the life of the process. It can be deleted if no longer used. Usually a named pipe appears as a file, and generally processes attach to it for IPC.

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Synchronous Interprocess Messaging Project for LINUX (SIMPL) is a free and open-source project that allows QNX-style synchronous message passing by adding a Linux library using user space techniques like shared memory and Unix pipes to implement SendMssg/ReceiveMssg/ReplyMssg inter-process messaging mechanisms.

Shared memory memory that may be simultaneously accessed by multiple programs with an intent to provide communication among them or avoid redundant copies

In computer science, shared memory is memory that may be simultaneously accessed by multiple programs with an intent to provide communication among them or avoid redundant copies. Shared memory is an efficient means of passing data between programs. Depending on context, programs may run on a single processor or on multiple separate processors.

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References

  1. 1 2 "Interprocess Communications". Microsoft.
  2. Camurati, P (1993). "Inter-process communications for system-level design". International Workshop on Hardware/Software Codesign.
  3. "Windows/WSL Interop with AF_UNIX". Microsoft. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  4. "Concurrent programming - communication between processes"