Marc Lehmann > AnyEvent-Fork-Pool > AnyEvent::Fork::Pool



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AnyEvent::Fork::Pool - simple process pool manager on top of AnyEvent::Fork


   use AnyEvent;
   use AnyEvent::Fork;
   use AnyEvent::Fork::Pool;

   # all possible parameters shown, with default values
   my $pool = AnyEvent::Fork
      ->require ("MyWorker")
      ->AnyEvent::Fork::Pool::run (
           "MyWorker::run", # the worker function

           # pool management
           max        => 4,   # absolute maximum # of processes
           idle       => 0,   # minimum # of idle processes
           load       => 2,   # queue at most this number of jobs per process
           start      => 0.1, # wait this many seconds before starting a new process
           stop       => 10,  # wait this many seconds before stopping an idle process
           on_destroy => (my $finish = AE::cv), # called when object is destroyed

           # parameters passed to AnyEvent::Fork::RPC
           async      => 0,
           on_error   => sub { die "FATAL: $_[0]\n" },
           on_event   => sub { my @ev = @_ },
           init       => "MyWorker::init",
           serialiser => $AnyEvent::Fork::RPC::STRING_SERIALISER,

   for (1..10) {
      $pool->(doit => $_, sub {
         print "MyWorker::run returned @_\n";

   undef $pool;



This module uses processes created via AnyEvent::Fork (or AnyEvent::Fork::Remote) and the RPC protocol implement in AnyEvent::Fork::RPC to create a load-balanced pool of processes that handles jobs.

Understanding of AnyEvent::Fork is helpful but not critical to be able to use this module, but a thorough understanding of AnyEvent::Fork::RPC is, as it defines the actual API that needs to be implemented in the worker processes.


To create a pool, you first have to create a AnyEvent::Fork object - this object becomes your template process. Whenever a new worker process is needed, it is forked from this template process. Then you need to "hand off" this template process to the AnyEvent::Fork::Pool module by calling its run method on it:

   my $template = AnyEvent::Fork
                     ->require ("SomeModule", "MyWorkerModule");

   my $pool = $template->AnyEvent::Fork::Pool::run ("MyWorkerModule::myfunction");

The pool "object" is not a regular Perl object, but a code reference that you can call and that works roughly like calling the worker function directly, except that it returns nothing but instead you need to specify a callback to be invoked once results are in:

   $pool->(1, 2, 3, sub { warn "myfunction(1,2,3) returned @_" });
my $pool = AnyEvent::Fork::Pool::run $fork, $function, [key => value...]

The traditional way to call the pool creation function. But it is way cooler to call it in the following way:

my $pool = $fork->AnyEvent::Fork::Pool::run ($function, [key => value...])

Creates a new pool object with the specified $function as function (name) to call for each request. The pool uses the $fork object as the template when creating worker processes.

You can supply your own template process, or tell AnyEvent::Fork::Pool to create one.

A relatively large number of key/value pairs can be specified to influence the behaviour. They are grouped into the categories "pool management", "template process" and "rpc parameters".

Pool Management

The pool consists of a certain number of worker processes. These options decide how many of these processes exist and when they are started and stopped.

The worker pool is dynamically resized, according to (perceived :) load. The minimum size is given by the idle parameter and the maximum size is given by the max parameter. A new worker is started every start seconds at most, and an idle worker is stopped at most every stop second.

You can specify the amount of jobs sent to a worker concurrently using the load parameter.

idle => $count (default: 0)

The minimum amount of idle processes in the pool - when there are fewer than this many idle workers, AnyEvent::Fork::Pool will try to start new ones, subject to the limits set by max and start.

This is also the initial amount of workers in the pool. The default of zero means that the pool starts empty and can shrink back to zero workers over time.

max => $count (default: 4)

The maximum number of processes in the pool, in addition to the template process. AnyEvent::Fork::Pool will never have more than this number of worker processes, although there can be more temporarily when a worker is shut down and hasn't exited yet.

load => $count (default: 2)

The maximum number of concurrent jobs sent to a single worker process.

Jobs that cannot be sent to a worker immediately (because all workers are busy) will be queued until a worker is available.

Setting this low improves latency. For example, at 1, every job that is sent to a worker is sent to a completely idle worker that doesn't run any other jobs. The downside is that throughput is reduced - a worker that finishes a job needs to wait for a new job from the parent.

The default of 2 is usually a good compromise.

start => $seconds (default: 0.1)

When there are fewer than idle workers (or all workers are completely busy), then a timer is started. If the timer elapses and there are still jobs that cannot be queued to a worker, a new worker is started.

This sets the minimum time that all workers must be busy before a new worker is started. Or, put differently, the minimum delay between starting new workers.

The delay is small by default, which means new workers will be started relatively quickly. A delay of 0 is possible, and ensures that the pool will grow as quickly as possible under load.

Non-zero values are useful to avoid "exploding" a pool because a lot of jobs are queued in an instant.

Higher values are often useful to improve efficiency at the cost of latency - when fewer processes can do the job over time, starting more and more is not necessarily going to help.

stop => $seconds (default: 10)

When a worker has no jobs to execute it becomes idle. An idle worker that hasn't executed a job within this amount of time will be stopped, unless the other parameters say otherwise.

Setting this to a very high value means that workers stay around longer, even when they have nothing to do, which can be good as they don't have to be started on the netx load spike again.

Setting this to a lower value can be useful to avoid memory or simply process table wastage.

Usually, setting this to a time longer than the time between load spikes is best - if you expect a lot of requests every minute and little work in between, setting this to longer than a minute avoids having to stop and start workers. On the other hand, you have to ask yourself if letting workers run idle is a good use of your resources. Try to find a good balance between resource usage of your workers and the time to start new workers - the processes created by AnyEvent::Fork itself is fats at creating workers while not using much memory for them, so most of the overhead is likely from your own code.

on_destroy => $callback->() (default: none)

When a pool object goes out of scope, the outstanding requests are still handled till completion. Only after handling all jobs will the workers be destroyed (and also the template process if it isn't referenced otherwise).

To find out when a pool really has finished its work, you can set this callback, which will be called when the pool has been destroyed.

AnyEvent::Fork::RPC Parameters

These parameters are all passed more or less directly to AnyEvent::Fork::RPC. They are only briefly mentioned here, for their full documentation please refer to the AnyEvent::Fork::RPC documentation. Also, the default values mentioned here are only documented as a best effort - the AnyEvent::Fork::RPC documentation is binding.

async => $boolean (default: 0)

Whether to use the synchronous or asynchronous RPC backend.

on_error => $callback->($message) (default: die with message)

The callback to call on any (fatal) errors.

on_event => $callback->(...) (default: sub { }, unlike AnyEvent::Fork::RPC)

The callback to invoke on events.

init => $initfunction (default: none)

The function to call in the child, once before handling requests.

serialiser => $serialiser (defailt: $AnyEvent::Fork::RPC::STRING_SERIALISER)

The serialiser to use.

$pool->(..., $cb->(...))

Call the RPC function of a worker with the given arguments, and when the worker is done, call the $cb with the results, just like calling the RPC object durectly - see the AnyEvent::Fork::RPC documentation for details on the RPC API.

If there is no free worker, the call will be queued until a worker becomes available.

Note that there can be considerable time between calling this method and the call actually being executed. During this time, the parameters passed to this function are effectively read-only - modifying them after the call and before the callback is invoked causes undefined behaviour.

$cpus = AnyEvent::Fork::Pool::ncpu [$default_cpus]
($cpus, $eus) = AnyEvent::Fork::Pool::ncpu [$default_cpus]

Tries to detect the number of CPUs ($cpus often called CPU cores nowadays) and execution units ($eus) which include e.g. extra hyperthreaded units). When $cpus cannot be determined reliably, $default_cpus is returned for both values, or 1 if it is missing.

For normal CPU bound uses, it is wise to have as many worker processes as CPUs in the system ($cpus), if nothing else uses the CPU. Using hyperthreading is usually detrimental to performance, but in those rare cases where that really helps it might be beneficial to use more workers ($eus).

Currently, /proc/cpuinfo is parsed on GNU/Linux systems for both $cpus and $eus, and on {Free,Net,Open}BSD, sysctl -n hw.ncpu is used for $cpus.

Example: create a worker pool with as many workers as CPU cores, or 2, if the actual number could not be determined.

   $fork->AnyEvent::Fork::Pool::run ("myworker::function",
      max => (scalar AnyEvent::Fork::Pool::ncpu 2),


In addition to the AnyEvent::Fork::RPC API, this module implements one more child-side function:

AnyEvent::Fork::Pool::retire ()

This function sends an event to the parent process to request retirement: the worker is removed from the pool and no new jobs will be sent to it, but it still has to handle the jobs that are already queued.

The parentheses are part of the syntax: the function usually isn't defined when you compile your code (because that happens before handing the template process over to AnyEvent::Fork::Pool::run, so you need the empty parentheses to tell Perl that the function is indeed a function.

Retiring a worker can be useful to gracefully shut it down when the worker deems this useful. For example, after executing a job, it could check the process size or the number of jobs handled so far, and if either is too high, the worker could request to be retired, to avoid memory leaks to accumulate.

Example: retire a worker after it has handled roughly 100 requests. It doesn't matter whether you retire at the beginning or end of your request, as the worker will continue to handle some outstanding requests. Likewise, it's ok to call retire multiple times.

   my $count = 0;

   sub my::worker {

      ++$count == 100
         and AnyEvent::Fork::Pool::retire ();

      ... normal code goes here


This section describes some recipes for pool parameters. These are mostly meant for the synchronous RPC backend, as the asynchronous RPC backend changes the rules considerably, making workers themselves responsible for their scheduling.

low latency - set load = 1

If you need a deterministic low latency, you should set the load parameter to 1. This ensures that never more than one job is sent to each worker. This avoids having to wait for a previous job to finish.

This makes most sense with the synchronous (default) backend, as the asynchronous backend can handle multiple requests concurrently.

lowest latency - set load = 1 and idle = max

To achieve the lowest latency, you additionally should disable any dynamic resizing of the pool by setting idle to the same value as max.

high throughput, cpu bound jobs - set load >= 2, max = #cpus

To get high throughput with cpu-bound jobs, you should set the maximum pool size to the number of cpus in your system, and load to at least 2, to make sure there can be another job waiting for the worker when it has finished one.

The value of 2 for load is the minimum value that can achieve 100% throughput, but if your parent process itself is sometimes busy, you might need higher values. Also there is a limit on the amount of data that can be "in flight" to the worker, so if you send big blobs of data to your worker, load might have much less of an effect.

high throughput, I/O bound jobs - set load >= 2, max = 1, or very high

When your jobs are I/O bound, using more workers usually boils down to higher throughput, depending very much on your actual workload - sometimes having only one worker is best, for example, when you read or write big files at maximum speed, as a second worker will increase seek times.


The same "policy" as with AnyEvent::Fork::RPC applies - exceptions will not be caught, and exceptions in both worker and in callbacks causes undesirable or undefined behaviour.


AnyEvent::Fork, to create the processes in the first place.

AnyEvent::Fork::Remote, likewise, but helpful for remote processes.

AnyEvent::Fork::RPC, which implements the RPC protocol and API.


 Marc Lehmann <>
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