special-purpose techniques, such as Windows asynchronous I/O in .NET

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Thread Basics
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Figure 6-1 in the previous chapter shows how threads exist in a process environment Figure 7-1 illustrates threads by showing a multithreaded server that can process simultaneous requests from multiple networked clients; a distinct thread is dedicated to each client This model will be implemented in 11
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Figure 7-1 Threads in a Server Environment
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Threads within a process share the same data and code, so it is essential that threads also have their own unique storage Windows satisfies this requirement in several ways
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Each thread has its own stack for use in function calls and other processing The calling process can pass an argument (Arg in Figure 7-1), usually a pointer, to a thread at creation time This argument is actually on the thread's stack Each thread can allocate its own Thread Local Storage (TLS) indexes and read and set TLS values TLS, described later, provides small data arrays to threads, and a thread can access only its own TLS array Among other advantages, TLS assures that threads will not modify one another's data
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The thread argumentor, alternatively, TLScan be used to point to an arbitrary data structure In Figure 71's server example, this structure might contain the current request and the thread's response to that request as well as other working storage
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Windows exploits SMP systems by allowing different threads, even from the same process, to run concurrently on separate processors This capability, if used properly, can enhance performance, but without sufficient care and a good strategy to exploit multiple processors, execution on an SMP system can actually be slower than on a single-processor system, as we'll see in the next two chapters
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Thread Management
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It should come as no surprise that threads, like any other Windows object, have handles and that there is a CreateThread system call to create an executable thread in the calling process's address space As with processes, we will sometimes speak of "parent" and "child" threads, although the OS does not make any such distinction CreateThread has several unique requirements
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Specify the thread's start address within the process's code Specify the stack size, and the stack space is allocated from the process's virtual address space The default stack size is the parent's virtual memory stack size (normally 1MB) One page is initially committed to the stack (see 5) New stack pages are committed as required until the stack reaches its maximum size and cannot grow anymore Specify a pointer to an argument for the thread The argument can be nearly anything and is interpreted by the thread itself CreateThread returns a thread's ID value and its handle A NULL handle value indicates a failure HANDLE CreateThread ( LPSECURITY_ATTRIBUTES lpsa, DWORD dwStackSize, LPTHREAD_START_ROUTINE lpStartAddr, LPVOID lpThreadParm, DWORD dwCreationFlags, LPDWORD lpThreadId)
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Parameters
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lpsa is the familiar security attributes structure dwStackSize is the byte size of the new thread's stack Use 0 to default to the primary thread's stack size lpStartAddr points to the function (within the calling process) to be executed This function accepts a single pointer argument and returns a 32-bit DWORD exit code The thread can interpret the argument as a DWORD or a pointer The thread function signature, then, is as follows: DWORD WINAPI ThreadFunc (LPVOID)
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lpThreadParm is the pointer passed as the thread argument and is interpreted by the thread, normally as a pointer to an argument structure dwCreationFlags, if 0, means that the thread is ready to run immediately If dwCreationFlags is CREATE_SUSPENDED, the new thread will be in the suspended state, requiring a ResumeThread function call to move the thread to the ready state lpThreadId points to a DWORD that receives the new thread's identifier The pointer can also be NULL, indicating that no thread ID will be returned; Windows 9x and NT Version 351 did not allow NULL for this parameter
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All threads in a process can terminate themselves using the ExitThread function A common alternative, however, is for a thread to terminate itself by returning from the thread function using the exit code as the return value The thread's stack is deallocated on termination If the thread was created within a DLL, then the associated DllMain ( 4) will be called with DLL_THREAD_DETACH as the "reason" VOID ExitThread (DWORD dwExitCode)
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When the last thread in a process terminates, the process itself terminates One thread can terminate another thread with the TerminateThread function, but the thread's resources will not be deallocated, completion handlers will not be executed, and attached DLLs will not be notified It is best if the thread terminates itself; TerminateThread usage is strongly discouraged TerminateThread has the same disadvantages as those of TerminateProcess A terminated thread (again, a thread normally should terminate itself) will continue to exist until the last handle to it is closed using CloseHandle Any other thread, perhaps one waiting for some other thread to terminate, can retrieve the exit code BOOL GetExitCodeThread ( HANDLE hThread, LPDWORD lpExitCode)
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lpExitCode will contain the thread's exit code If the thread is still running, the value is STILL_ACTIVE