Threads in Operating System

A thread is a basic unit of CPU utilization; it comprises a thread ID, a program counter, a register set, and a stack. It shares with other threads belonging to the same process its code section, data section, and other operating-system resources, such as open files and signals. A traditional (or heavyweight) process has a single thread of control. If a process has multiple threads of control, it can perform more than one task at a time

Benefits of thread

The benefits of multithreaded programming can be broken down into four major categories:

  • Responsiveness. Multithreading an interactive application may allow a program to continue running even if part of it is blocked or is performing a lengthy operation, thereby increasing responsiveness to the user. This quality is especially useful in designing user interfaces. For instance, consider what happens when a user clicks a button that results in the performance of a time-consuming operation. A single-threaded application would be unresponsive to the user until the operation had completed. In contrast, if the time-consuming operation is performed in a separate thread, the application remains responsive to the user
  • Resource sharing. Processes can only share resources through techniques such as shared memory and message passing. Such techniques must be explicitly arranged by the programmer. However, threads share the memory and the resources of the process to which they belong by default. The benefit of sharing code and data is that it allows an application to have several different threads of activity within the same address space
  • Economy. Allocating memory and resources for process creation is costly. Because threads share the resources of the process to which they belong, it is more economical to create and context-switch threads. Empirically gauging the difference in overhead can be difficult, but in general it is significantly more time consuming to create and manage processes than threads
  • Scalability. The benefits of multithreading can be even greater in a multiprocessor architecture, where threads may be running in parallel on different processing cores. A single-threaded process can run on only one processor, regardless how many are available

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