Shared-Memory Systems in Operating System

Interprocess communication using shared memory requires communicating processes to establish a region of shared memory. Typically, a shared-memory region resides in the address space of the process creating the shared-memory segment.

Other processes that wish to communicate using this shared-memory segment must attach it to their address space. Recall that, normally, the operating system tries to prevent one process from accessing another process’s memory. Shared memory requires that two or more processes agree to remove this restriction.

They can then exchange information by reading and writing data in the shared areas. The form of the data and the location are determined by these processes and are not under the operating system’s control. The processes are also responsible for ensuring that they are not writing to the same location simultaneously

while (true) {
/* produce an item in next produced */
while (((in + 1) % BUFFER SIZE) == out)
; /* do nothing */
buffer[in] = next produced;
in = (in + 1) % BUFFER SIZE;

Message-Passing Systems

Message passing provides a mechanism to allow processes to communicate and to synchronize their actions without sharing the same address space. It is particularly useful in a distributed environment, where the communicating processes may reside on different computers connected by a network. For example, an Internet chat program could be designed so that chat participants communicate with one another by exchanging messages


Processes that want to communicate must have a way to refer to each other. They can use either direct or indirect communication

Under direct communication, each process that wants to communicate must explicitly name the recipient or sender of the communication. In this scheme, the send() and receive() primitives are defined as:Processes that want to communicate must have a way to refer to each other. They can use either direct or indirect communication

  • send(P, message)—Send a message to process P
  • receive(Q, message)—Receive a message from process Q


Whether communication is direct or indirect, messages exchanged by communicating processes reside in a temporary queue. Basically, such queues can be implemented in three ways:

message next produced;
while (true) {
/* produce an item in next produced */
send(next produced);

  • Zero capacity. The queue has a maximum length of zero; thus, the link cannot have any messages waiting in it. In this case, the sender must block until the recipient receives the message
  • Bounded capacity. The queue has finite length n; thus, at most n messages can reside in it. If the queue is not full when a new message is sent, the message is placed in the queue (either the message is copied or a pointer to the message is kept), and the sender can continue execution without waiting. The link’s capacity is finite, however. If the link is full, the sender must block until space is available in the queue.
  • Unbounded capacity. The queue’s length is potentially infinite; thus, any number of messages can wait in it. The sender never blocks

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