Programming, Software and Code

AIO Variants

In a previous post I wrote a basic introduction to AIO and started alluding to some of the steps that would be needed to get a proper AIO system working in Parrot. The Wikipedia article on AIO mentions several different implementations or "flavors" of AIO that have been used throughout the years, and it should be apparent to most readers that several of these implementations are not useful for Parrot. However, I think there are three particular implementations that we probably do want to support in some fashion:
  1. Callbacks. These are probaby the most basic and also the easiest to implement directly in Parrot. An IO stream is opened and callbacks are provided to handle events. Events can be a variety of things, including the completion of a scheduled write request, the completion of a fixed-width read request, or the receipt of unscheduled incoming data. When the particular event is triggered, a callback subroutine is invoked to deal with it.
  2. Completion Ports: As I mentioned in the last post, completion ports use queued messages to indicate the completion of an IO task, instead of invoking a callback. The program must regularly poll the completion port to determine what, if anyhing, is happening. A completion port object with a queue of length one is identical to the VMS-style flagged IO
  3. Select/Poll Loops. These kinds of AIO are commonly used in networking applications like webservers, although there are many other uses for them as well. Select/Poll loops let us keep track of several IO streams through a single interface. When an event is triggered in any stream, the select/poll loop can pass control to it's handler. These can be implemented as an event loop over a series of filehandles, although there are plenty of risks for performance problems.
In Parrot, AIO jobs are likely to be encapsulated in a PMC type (or several types) and are likely to inherit from the Task PMC or Event PMC types. Each AIO task object will probably have to contain:
  1. The request itself, which is information about whether it's a read or a write, and the data to write or a count of characters to read.
  2. The destination of the IO. So, an AIORead PMC would contain a reference to a FileHandle PMC that would control where the data was coming from.
  3. A buffer or two to receive inputs and possibly to combine together outputs that have been made too closely together for the request to have been completed
  4. An optional callback object, which could be any invokable PMC such as Continuation, Sub, or Coroutine. There would likely be one callback object for each type of IO event. So there will be one callback for when a read completes, or when a write completes, or when information is received asynchronously without being requested.
  5. An internal flag or flags cache that can be polled to determine if an event has happened, if callbacks for those events have not been supplied.
It might make sense to have multiple AIO objects, such as an AIORead, AIOWrite, and AIOListen. This demarcation glosses over the need for bidirectional streams, but that could be resolved in a number of ways.

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