libuv event-loop

摘自文章 Basics of libuv


Event loop可以绑定到一个线程,也可以同时运行多个event loop,每个event loop绑定到一个不同的线程。network I/O的处理总是运行在同一个线程(参考Linux epoll)。libuv维护的线程池只是提供给每个file I/O。

livuv/event loop好比一个黑盒,程序的一系列event在这里注册,通过调用OS系统资源处理完成(包括callback)后返回到主程序。

libuv enforces an asynchronousevent-driven style of programming. Its core job is to provide an event loop and callback based notifications of I/O and other activities. libuv offers core utilities like timers, non-blocking networking support, asynchronous file system access, child processes and more.

Event loops

In event-driven programming, an application expresses interest in certain events and respond to them when they occur. The responsibility of gathering events from the operating system or monitoring other sources of events is handled by libuv, and the user can register callbacks to be invoked when an event occurs. The event-loop usually keeps running forever. In pseudocode:

while there are still events to process:
    e = get the next event
    if there is a callback associated with e:
        call the callback

Some examples of events are:

  • File is ready for writing
  • A socket has data ready to be read
  • A timer has timed out

This event loop is encapsulated by uv_run() – the end-all function when using libuv.

The most common activity of systems programs is to deal with input and output, rather than a lot of number-crunching. The problem with using conventional input/output functions (readfprintf, etc.) is that they are blocking. The actual write to a hard disk or reading from a network, takes a disproportionately long time compared to the speed of the processor. The functions don’t return until the task is done, so that your program is doing nothing. For programs which require high performance this is a major roadblock as other activities and other I/O operations are kept waiting.

One of the standard solutions is to use threads. Each blocking I/O operation is started in a separate thread (or in a thread pool). When the blocking function gets invoked in the thread, the processor can schedule another thread to run, which actually needs the CPU.

The approach followed by libuv uses another style, which is the asynchronous, non-blocking style. Most modern operating systems provide event notification subsystems. For example, a normal read call on a socket would block until the sender actually sent something. Instead, the application can request the operating system to watch the socket and put an event notification in the queue. The application can inspect the events at its convenience (perhaps doing some number crunching before to use the processor to the maximum) and grab the data. It is asynchronous because the application expressed interest at one point, then used the data at another point (in time and space). It is non-blocking because the application process was free to do other tasks. This fits in well with libuv’s event-loop approach, since the operating system events can be treated as just another libuv event. The non-blocking ensures that other events can continue to be handled as fast as they come in [1].


How the I/O is run in the background is not of our concern, but due to the way our computer hardware works, with the thread as the basic unit of the processor, libuv and OSes will usually run background/worker threads and/or polling to perform tasks in a non-blocking manner.

Bert Belder, one of the libuv core developers has a small video explaining the architecture of libuv and its background. If you have no prior experience with either libuv or libev, it is a quick, useful watch.

libuv’s event loop is explained in more detail in the documentation.