2.6, 3.0, and truly independent intepreters

M.-A. Lemburg mal at egenix.com
Sat Oct 25 15:46:15 CEST 2008

These discussion pop up every year or so and I think that most of them
are not really all that necessary, since the GIL isn't all that bad.

Some pointers into the past:

 * http://effbot.org/pyfaq/can-t-we-get-rid-of-the-global-interpreter-lock.htm
   Fredrik on the GIL

 * http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2000-April/003605.html
   Greg Stein's proposal to move forward on free threading

 * http://www.sauria.com/~twl/conferences/pycon2005/20050325/Python%20at%20Google.notes
   (scroll down to the Q&A section)
   Greg Stein on whether the GIL really does matter that much

Furthermore, there are lots of ways to tune the CPython VM to make
it more or less responsive to thread switches via the various sys.set*()
functions in the sys module.

Most computing or I/O intense C extensions, built-in modules and object
implementations already release the GIL for you, so it usually doesn't
get in the way all that often.

So you have the option of using a single process with multiple
threads, allowing efficient sharing of data. Or you use multiple
processes and OS mechanisms to share data (shared memory, memory
mapped files, message passing, pipes, shared file descriptors, etc.).

Both have their pros and cons.

There's no general answer to the
problem of how to make best use of multi-core processors, multiple
linked processors or any of the more advanced parallel processing
mechanisms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_computing).
The answers will always have to be application specific.

Marc-Andre Lemburg

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