Threads in Tor

Tor is based around a single main thread and one or more worker threads. We aim (with middling success) to use worker threads for CPU-intensive activities and the main thread for our networking. Fortunately (?) we have enough cryptography that moving what we can of the cryptographic processes to the workers should achieve good parallelism under most loads. Unfortunately, we only have a small fraction of our cryptography done in our worker threads right now.

Our threads-and-workers abstraction is defined in workqueue.c, which combines a work queue with a thread pool, and integrates the signalling with libevent. Tor main instance of a work queue is instantiated in cpuworker.c. It will probably need some refactoring as more types of work are added.

On a lower level, we provide locks with tor_mutex_t, conditions with tor_cond_t, and thread-local storage with tor_threadlocal_t, all of which are specified in compat_threads.h and implemented in an OS- specific compat_*threads.h module.

Try to minimize sharing between threads: it is usually best to simply make the worker “own” all the data it needs while the work is in progress, and to give up ownership when it’s complete.