Multiprocessing vs Threading Python


Question

I am trying to understand the advantages of multiprocessing over threading. I know that multiprocessing gets around the Global Interpreter Lock, but what other advantages are there, and can threading not do the same thing?

1
704
1/27/2014 3:05:30 AM

Accepted Answer

The threading module uses threads, the multiprocessing module uses processes. The difference is that threads run in the same memory space, while processes have separate memory. This makes it a bit harder to share objects between processes with multiprocessing. Since threads use the same memory, precautions have to be taken or two threads will write to the same memory at the same time. This is what the global interpreter lock is for.

Spawning processes is a bit slower than spawning threads. Once they are running, there is not much difference.

620
4/17/2017 7:18:05 PM

Here are some pros/cons I came up with.

Multiprocessing

Pros

  • Separate memory space
  • Code is usually straightforward
  • Takes advantage of multiple CPUs & cores
  • Avoids GIL limitations for cPython
  • Eliminates most needs for synchronization primitives unless if you use shared memory (instead, it's more of a communication model for IPC)
  • Child processes are interruptible/killable
  • Python multiprocessing module includes useful abstractions with an interface much like threading.Thread
  • A must with cPython for CPU-bound processing

Cons

  • IPC a little more complicated with more overhead (communication model vs. shared memory/objects)
  • Larger memory footprint

Threading

Pros

  • Lightweight - low memory footprint
  • Shared memory - makes access to state from another context easier
  • Allows you to easily make responsive UIs
  • cPython C extension modules that properly release the GIL will run in parallel
  • Great option for I/O-bound applications

Cons

  • cPython - subject to the GIL
  • Not interruptible/killable
  • If not following a command queue/message pump model (using the Queue module), then manual use of synchronization primitives become a necessity (decisions are needed for the granularity of locking)
  • Code is usually harder to understand and to get right - the potential for race conditions increases dramatically

Licensed under: CC-BY-SA with attribution
Not affiliated with: Stack Overflow
Icon