[Python-ideas] solving multi-core Python

Eric Snow ericsnowcurrently at gmail.com
Wed Jun 24 08:11:16 CEST 2015

On Mon, Jun 22, 2015 at 5:59 PM, Nathaniel Smith <njs at pobox.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Jun 22, 2015 at 10:37 AM, Gregory P. Smith <greg at krypto.org> wrote:
>> ...
> One possibility would be for subinterpreters to copy modules from the
> main interpreter -- I guess your average module is mostly dicts,
> strings, type objects, and functions; strings and functions are
> already immutable and could be shared without copying, and I guess
> copying the dicts and type objects into the subinterpreter is much
> cheaper than hitting the disk etc. to do a real import. (Though
> certainly not free.)

Yeah, I think there are a number of mechanisms we can explore to
improve the efficiency of subinterpreter startup (and sharing).

> This would have interesting semantic implications -- it would give
> similar effects to fork(), with subinterpreters starting from a
> snapshot of the main interpreter's global state.
>> I'm not entirely sold on this overall proposal, but I think a result of it
>> could be to make our subinterpreter support better which would be a good
>> thing.
>> We have had to turn people away from subinterpreters in the past for use as
>> part of their multithreaded C++ server where they wanted to occasionally run
>> some Python code in embedded interpreters as part of serving some requests.
>> Doing that would suddenly single thread their application (GIIIIIIL!) for
>> all requests currently executing Python code despite multiple
>> subinterpreters.
> I've also talked to HPC users who discovered this problem the hard way
> (e.g. http://www-atlas.lbl.gov/, folks working on the Large Hadron
> Collider) -- they've been using Python as an extension language in
> some large physics codes but are now porting those bits to C++ because
> of the GIL issues. (In this context startup overhead should be easily
> amortized, but switching to an RPC model is not going to happen.)

Would this proposal make a difference for them?


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