[zeromq-dev] Shared memory transport (IPC)

Martin Sustrik sustrik at 250bpm.com
Sun Nov 15 12:15:49 CET 2009

Hi Ismael,

As discussed beforehand off-list, here's my idea how shared memory 
transport can be implemented:

- first of all the two processes have to have a notification mechanism 
between them; let's say we'll use a TCP connection for this (in the 
future we may experiment with alternatives such as pipe or eventfd); to 
implement transport that has speaks TCP to another process, simply copy 
existing 0mq TCP "engine" (bp_tcp_engine_t) and name it something 
different (shmem_engine_t or so); you'll also have to modify 
engine_factory.cpp so that when a specific prefix is used ("shmem") 
shmem_engine_t is created; thus, the address parameter to bind/connect 
functions would like something like this: "shmem://"

- as shared memory won't work accross the machines anyway, we can assume 
the interface to use is always loopback ( and simplify the 
address to "shmem://5555"; additionally, we can think about how to 
transfer port number via shared memory and thus get rid of TCP settings 

- add name of the file associated with shared memory to create to the 
address, say: "shmem://home/sustrik/myfile"

- on the "bind" side of the transport, the shared memory identified by 
the filename should be created, on the "connect" side you should bind to 
it; have a look at your shmem_engine_t definition - there's "readbuf" 
and "writebuf" there - with original TCP transport the blocks are 
allocated using malloc - with shmem they can be the actual shared memory

- existing implementation will store the data into writebuf when sending 
messages, and extract messages from the readbuf when receiving

- all you have to do is to add a notification mechanism so that when 
writebuf is full, the application sends a hint to the peer to start 
extracting data from the buffer; other way round, when receiving side is 
ready with reading the buffer it should notify the sender that it can 
refill the buffer with new data; to send the notification use the TCP 
connection established at the beginning

- to accomplish the previous point, note that shmem_engine_t::in_event 
will be called when thare are data to receive on the TCP connection and 
shmem_engine_t::out_event when data can be written to the connection.

That's about it, however, feel free to discuss the matter on the mailing 

Btw, I recall there were other people asking for an IPC mechanism so you 
may get some help with the implementation.


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