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The GNU C Library

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13.10 Perform I/O Operations in Parallel

The POSIX.1b standard defines a new set of I/O operations which can significantly reduce the time an application spends waiting at I/O. The new functions allow a program to initiate one or more I/O operations and then immediately resume normal work while the I/O operations are executed in parallel. This functionality is available if the `unistd.h' file defines the symbol _POSIX_ASYNCHRONOUS_IO.

These functions are part of the library with realtime functions named `librt'. They are not actually part of the `libc' binary. The implementation of these functions can be done using support in the kernel (if available) or using an implementation based on threads at userlevel. In the latter case it might be necessary to link applications with the thread library `libpthread' in addition to `librt'.

All AIO operations operate on files which were opened previously. There might be arbitrarily many operations running for one file. The asynchronous I/O operations are controlled using a data structure named struct aiocb (AIO control block). It is defined in `aio.h' as follows.

Data Type: struct aiocb
The POSIX.1b standard mandates that the struct aiocb structure contains at least the members described in the following table. There might be more elements which are used by the implementation, but depending upon these elements is not portable and is highly deprecated.

int aio_fildes
This element specifies the file descriptor to be used for the operation. It must be a legal descriptor, otherwise the operation will fail.

The device on which the file is opened must allow the seek operation. I.e., it is not possible to use any of the AIO operations on devices like terminals where an lseek call would lead to an error.

off_t aio_offset
This element specifies the offset in the file at which the operation (input or output) is performed. Since the operations are carried out in arbitrary order and more than one operation for one file descriptor can be started, one cannot expect a current read/write position of the file descriptor.

volatile void *aio_buf
This is a pointer to the buffer with the data to be written or the place where the read data is stored.

size_t aio_nbytes
This element specifies the length of the buffer pointed to by aio_buf.

int aio_reqprio
If the platform has defined _POSIX_PRIORITIZED_IO and _POSIX_PRIORITY_SCHEDULING, the AIO requests are processed based on the current scheduling priority. The aio_reqprio element can then be used to lower the priority of the AIO operation.

struct sigevent aio_sigevent
This element specifies how the calling process is notified once the operation terminates. If the sigev_notify element is SIGEV_NONE, no notification is sent. If it is SIGEV_SIGNAL, the signal determined by sigev_signo is sent. Otherwise, sigev_notify must be SIGEV_THREAD. In this case, a thread is created which starts executing the function pointed to by sigev_notify_function.

int aio_lio_opcode
This element is only used by the lio_listio and lio_listio64 functions. Since these functions allow an arbitrary number of operations to start at once, and each operation can be input or output (or nothing), the information must be stored in the control block. The possible values are:

LIO_READ
Start a read operation. Read from the file at position aio_offset and store the next aio_nbytes bytes in the buffer pointed to by aio_buf.

LIO_WRITE
Start a write operation. Write aio_nbytes bytes starting at aio_buf into the file starting at position aio_offset.

LIO_NOP
Do nothing for this control block. This value is useful sometimes when an array of struct aiocb values contains holes, i.e., some of the values must not be handled although the whole array is presented to the lio_listio function.

When the sources are compiled using _FILE_OFFSET_BITS == 64 on a 32 bit machine, this type is in fact struct aiocb64, since the LFS interface transparently replaces the struct aiocb definition.

For use with the AIO functions defined in the LFS, there is a similar type defined which replaces the types of the appropriate members with larger types but otherwise is equivalent to struct aiocb. Particularly, all member names are the same.

Data Type: struct aiocb64
int aio_fildes
This element specifies the file descriptor which is used for the operation. It must be a legal descriptor since otherwise the operation fails for obvious reasons.

The device on which the file is opened must allow the seek operation. I.e., it is not possible to use any of the AIO operations on devices like terminals where an lseek call would lead to an error.

off64_t aio_offset
This element specifies at which offset in the file the operation (input or output) is performed. Since the operation are carried in arbitrary order and more than one operation for one file descriptor can be started, one cannot expect a current read/write position of the file descriptor.

volatile void *aio_buf
This is a pointer to the buffer with the data to be written or the place where the read data is stored.

size_t aio_nbytes
This element specifies the length of the buffer pointed to by aio_buf.

int aio_reqprio
If for the platform _POSIX_PRIORITIZED_IO and _POSIX_PRIORITY_SCHEDULING are defined the AIO requests are processed based on the current scheduling priority. The aio_reqprio element can then be used to lower the priority of the AIO operation.

struct sigevent aio_sigevent
This element specifies how the calling process is notified once the operation terminates. If the sigev_notify, element is SIGEV_NONE no notification is sent. If it is SIGEV_SIGNAL, the signal determined by sigev_signo is sent. Otherwise, sigev_notify must be SIGEV_THREAD in which case a thread which starts executing the function pointed to by sigev_notify_function.

int aio_lio_opcode
This element is only used by the lio_listio and [lio_listio64 functions. Since these functions allow an arbitrary number of operations to start at once, and since each operation can be input or output (or nothing), the information must be stored in the control block. See the description of struct aiocb for a description of the possible values.

When the sources are compiled using _FILE_OFFSET_BITS == 64 on a 32 bit machine, this type is available under the name struct aiocb64, since the LFS transparently replaces the old interface.

13.10.1 Asynchronous Read and Write Operations  
13.10.2 Getting the Status of AIO Operations  
13.10.3 Getting into a Consistent State  Getting into a consistent state.
13.10.4 Cancellation of AIO Operations  
13.10.5 How to optimize the AIO implementation  


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