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From Ryan Bloom <>
Subject Accept Serialization.
Date Tue, 02 Feb 1999 13:15:38 GMT

A proposal for Acceptor serialization.  This is not an easy thing to
describe over e-mail, so let me describe it using words, and then using a
simple example.  This will be using a hybrid Thread/Process model.

We have an acceptor thread per socket per process.  Those threads do
accept and receive on their socket, and put the response on a blocking
queue.  Across processes, those threads are serialzied using the same
methods process based Apache currently implements.  We also have a pool of
worker threads.  When data is put on the queue, one worker is woken up,
and he grabs data off the queue and serves the request, doing all loggin
and everything else himself (as per the earlier decision).

The size of the pool of worker threads is based on the threadsperchild
directive.  The number of acceptor threads is based on the number of ports
to listen to.


we are listening on port 80 and 443.  We have 2 processes and 30

Child 1:
	acceptor on 80
	acceptor on 443

	30 worker threads blocking on Q1

Child 2:
	acceptor on 80
	acceptor on 443

	30 worker threads blocking on Q2

Ex 1:
A request comes in on port 80.
Child 1 gets it, and puts the fd on Q1.  One of it's worker threads
wakes up and serves the request.  

Ex 2:
Two requests come in on port 80 and 443.
Child 2 gets them both, accepts and put data on Q2.  Two workers are woken
up and they serve the reqeusts.

Ex 3:
Two requests come in on port 80.
Child 1 gets on and puts it on the Q1, child 2 gets one and puts it on Q2.
One worker for each child is woken up, and they serve their respective

These are simple examples, and obviously, we are counting on the OS to do
some of our scheduling with a bit of intelligence.  This is not the best
algorithm, if the OS starves one of our processes.

Here is why it is good.  One path throught the code for all OS's.  Only
one thread is ever looking at the accept at any one time.  Our worker
threads don't care what kind of request they server.  For example, if we
had two pools of workers, one for each port, then potentially half of them
would be waiting on a request, even if the other port was struggling to
keep up with the requests.  With this algorithm, if one port gets 99% of
the requests, the threads concentrate on that port.  But if that port goes
quiet for some reason, and everybody starts asking for requests on another
port, the threads automatically switch to serving those requests.

Another solution is to have all threads block on the accept.  Then, you
take the chance of the OS having a problem with a thundering herd.  If all
threads block on the accept, and a request comes in, many OS's will wake
up all of the threads, and then put them back to sleep after the first
thread has gotten the request.  This causes many many context switches.
BAD :(  There is also the potential, out of pure dumb luck, that two
threads will get through to the accept loop at once (IBM's last web server
had this problem when they used this algorithm), this will cause bad
things to happen.



Ryan Bloom
4205 S Miami Blvd	
RTP, NC 27709		It's a beautiful sight to see good dancers 
			doing simple steps.  It's a painful sight to
			see beginners doing complicated patterns.	

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