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Module Netmcore

module Netmcore: sig .. end
Multi-processing for compute jobs

This library allows it to develop parallel algorithms that can take advantage of multiple CPU cores. It does not use Ocaml's multi-threading feature because this would implicitly serialize all computations. Instead, independent processes are created, and the communication between processes is made as cheap and unproblematic as possible.

Before using this library, it is required to call Netmcore.startup. This turns the current process into the master process. The master process has only a supervising function, and is responsible for managing global resources, and for starting further worker processes.

The worker processes can start more workers. This is different from creating a new thread, though: The new worker does not share memory with its creator. It is also different from calling Unix.fork, because new workers are always subprocesses of the master process. This means it is not initialized with a copy of the state of the logical creator, but with its real parent process which is always the master.

Compatibility with multi-threading: You may run into big trouble when the master process starts further threads (after forking thread-related resources are in an uncontrolled state). There is no such problem in the worker processes. In this library, however, nothing is done to ease the multi-threaded life, so you should carefully check the compatibility first.

Netmcore controls the lifetime of certain system resources in addition to worker processes:

  • Temporary files
  • Shared memory objects
  • Named semaphores
These objects have kernel persistence, and continue to exist when the program ends. Because of this, there are two mechanisms to control the lifetime, and to delete these objects finally: First, if all using processes terminate normally, an object is deleted. Second, in order to also catch abnormal terminations, these objects are also managed by storing their names into an external file "netplex.pmanage" (in the socket directory). When the program is started the next time with the same socket directory, the objects from the previous run are automatically deleted. The second mechanism can be disabled by setting the
  • disable_pmanage parameter for the Netmcore.startup call, or by setting the
  • unlink parameter in the same call. This second option only disables the deletion, but the management file is updated.

Types and exceptions

type res_id = [ `Resource of int ] 
This tagged integer identifies resources. This variant type will never be extended.
type process_id = [ `Process of int ] 
This tagged integer identifies processes. This variant type will never be extended.

Note that the int argument is not the Unix PID, but just a self-generated identifier that is unique for the lifetime of the program.

type compute_resource_type = [ `File
| `Fork_point
| `Join_point
| `Posix_sem
| `Posix_shm
| `Posix_shm_preallocated
| `Posix_shm_preallocated_sc
| `Posix_shm_sc ]
type inherit_request = [ `All | `Resources of res_id list ] 
type compute_resource_repr = [ `File of string
| `Fork_point of
inherit_request * Netplex_encap.encap -> process_id
| `Join_point of process_id -> Netplex_encap.encap option
| `Posix_sem of string
| `Posix_shm of string
| `Posix_shm_preallocated of string * Netsys_mem.memory
| `Posix_shm_preallocated_sc of
string * Netsys_mem.memory * Netsys_sem.container
| `Posix_shm_sc of string * Netsys_sem.prefix ]
Centrally managed resources include:
  • `File name: (Temporary) file name (absolute name)
  • `Posix_shm name: Shared memory objects with name
  • `Posix_shm_sc(name,p): Shared memory objects with name, and attached container for semaphores with prefix p
  • `Posix_shm_preallocated(name,m): Shared memory objects already allocated by the master process. These objects are passed over to the worker processes by inheritance, and are always mapped at the same address. m is the bigarray mapping the object.
  • `Posix_shm_preallocated_sc(name,m.p): Same, plus attached container for semaphores with prefix p
  • `Posix_sem name: Semaphores with name
  • `Fork_point(inh,f): Fork points where let pid=f arg fork a new process with argument arg. pid is the process identifier. The list inh are resources inherited from the master.
  • `Joint_point f: Joint points where let res=f pid wait until the process pid terminates. If res is non-None it is the result value. If it is None, no result was passed back (including all pathological cases like crashes)
Except fork and join points, these resources are also added to the pmanage object of Netplex (see Netplex_cenv.pmanage and Netsys_pmanage).
exception No_resource of res_id
No such resource, or no resource of the expected type
class type compute_resource = object .. end

Defining processes

This is the lower-level version of the process API where arguments and results of processes are dynamically typed. It may have some uses when writing generic process managers, but for the normal application the statically typed API in Netmcore_process is easier to use (and less verbose).
val def_process : (Netplex_encap.encap -> Netplex_encap.encap) ->
res_id * res_id
let fork_point, join_point = def_process f: Defines process types, i.e. ways of starting and finishing processes. The definition must be done in the master process, e.g. before the first worker is started.

Once the process type is defined, new processes can be started, and these processes will run the function f. When f is finished, the process will terminate. Starting processes is possible from other worker processes.

f is supplied with its argument by the process starter start. The result value of f can be retrieved with join (by any process, but only the first join for this process will be successful).

If f throws exceptions, these will be caught and logged, but not be passed back to the caller (which just gets None as result of join). The same happens for any unplanned termination of the process.

It is allowed to immediately release the join_point if there is no interest in catching the termination of started processes.

Here is an example how to define a process that takes a string argument and returns an int:

      module String_encap = Netplex_encap.Make_encap(struct type t=string end)
      module Int_encap = Netplex_encap.Make_encap(struct type t=int end)

      let my_process_fork, my_process_join =
          (fun s_encap ->
            let (s:string) = String_encap.unwrap s_encap in
            let (r:int) = ... in
            Int_encap.wrap r

The wrapping and unwrapping is required for ensuring type-safety (see Netplex_encap for the details of the idea).

Calling this process is done with (also see below):

      let pid = Netmcore.start my_process_fork (String_encap.wrap s) in
      let r_encap_opt = Netmcore.join my_process_join pid in
      match r_encap_opt with
        | None -> failwith "Something went wrong"
        | Some r_encap -> Int_encap.unwrap r_encap

The following functions can also be called from worker processes (i.e. Netplex containers)
val start : ?inherit_resources:inherit_request ->
res_id -> Netplex_encap.encap -> process_id
let pid = start fork_point arg: Starts the process with the given fork_point and the argument arg.

Raises No_resource if there is no such resource.

The function returns a process identifier. This is not the Unix PID, but a sequentially generated number that is unique for a running program.

Option inherit_resources: Certain resources are only accessible by the process when they are inherited to it. This is the case for `Posix_shm_preallocated. This can be set to `All to inherit all inheritable resources, or to `Resources l to only inherit the resources of l. By default, all resources are inherited. (This changed in Ocamlnet-3.5 - before, no resources were inherited, which turned out to be quite dangerous as default.)

val join : res_id -> process_id -> Netplex_encap.encap option
let res_opt = join join_point pid: Waits until the process pid is done, and returns the result value if any.

Raises No_resource if there is no such resource.

Managing resources from worker processes

The following functions can also be called from worker processes (i.e. Netplex containers)
val get_resource : res_id -> compute_resource
Retrieves the resource by ID. This implicitly also marks this resource as being used by this process. Don't forget to call release when your are done with the resource.

Raises No_resource if there is no such resource.

val release : res_id -> unit
Release the resource with this ID. (Same as calling the release method on the object.)
val manage_file : string -> compute_resource
hands over a file to the manager
val get_file : res_id -> string
Gets the file with this ID (or raises No_resource). As for get_resource the file is marked as being used by the process.
val manage_shm : string -> compute_resource
hands over a named shm object to the manager
val manage_shm_sc : string -> Netsys_sem.container -> compute_resource
hands over a named shm object plus semaphore container to the manager
val get_shm : res_id -> string
Gets the shm object with this ID (or raises No_resource). As for get_resource the shm object is marked as being used by the process.
val get_sem_container : res_id -> Netsys_sem.container
Get the semaphore container

Shared memory objects can be created with Netsys_posix.shm_create, and opened with Netsys_posix.shm_open.
val create_preallocated_shm : ?value_area:bool -> string -> int -> res_id * string
create_preallocated_shm prefix size: Creates a new preallocated shm object with a unique name based on prefix, and a length of size bytes. The object is created and mapped into the master process, and will be available to any newly started process when the resource ID is inherited to the process.

Returns (res_id,shm_name) where res_id identifies the new resource, and shm_name is the name of the POSIX shared memory object.

Note that the process calling this function cannot look up this resource (using get_shm or get_resource) because the shm block cannot be mapped at the right address. Nevertheless, the calling process counts as a user of the object, and needs to release the object.

Option value_area: if set, the new memory is marked as value area, so the ocaml runtime allows value comparisons in this memory area.

val create_preallocated_shm_sc : ?value_area:bool ->
string -> int -> res_id * string * Netsys_sem.container
Same as create_preallocated_shm with the extension that a semaphore container is also allocated and returned
val manage_sem : string -> compute_resource
hands over a named semaphore to the manager
val get_sem : res_id -> string
gets the semaphore with this ID (or raises No_resource). As for get_resource the semaphore is marked as being used by the process.

Semaphores can be opened with Netsys_posix.sem_open, and created with Netsys_posix.sem_create.
val self_process_id : unit -> process_id
Returns the process ID of a worker

Initialization and system start

This module can either be used as Netplex plugin and integrated into any existing Netplex program, or it can be started in stand-alone mode
val add_plugins : Netplex_types.controller -> unit
To enable compute processes for any Netplex program, call this function with the controller object as argument. This can e.g. be done in the post_add_hook of the processor.
val startup : socket_directory:string ->
?pidfile:string ->
?init_ctrl:(Netplex_types.controller -> unit) ->
?disable_pmanage:bool ->
?no_unlink:bool ->
first_process:(unit -> process_id) -> unit -> unit
This function makes the current process the master process. It starts immediately a new worker process, called the first process. The startup function returns first when this process is finished, in which case the whole Netplex system is shut down (which may lead to killing the remaining processes, following the usual shutdown procedure).

The first process is created by calling first_process() at the right moment. This function normally just invokes start.

Passing a socket_directory is mandatory. This directory will contain helper files. The must be a separate socket_directory for each running Computeplex instance.

pidfile: If passed, the Unix PID of the master process is written to this file.

disable_pmanage: Disable that persistent kernel objects are managed via the "netplex.pmanage" file in the socket directory.

no_unlink: Disable that old persistent kernel objects are deleted at startup. This may be useful when startup is called a second time from the same program.

val destroy_resources : unit -> unit
Destroys all resources that may be left
module Debug: sig .. end
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