Memory Locking

A process's memory regions may be paged, or swapped, to a disk file

when RAM has become scarce. The virtual memory management system is

responsible for this swapping. In most cases, a process doesn't care

about the exact, physical location of a certain memory page. However,

the latency caused by the kernel's paging of memory back into RAM may

be unacceptable to time-sensitive applications.

To avoid this latency, a process can lock specific memory regions in

RAM and thus ensure that they aren't paged to a disk file. Only

processes with root permissions are allowed to lock memory. The total

amount of memory that a process can lock shall not exceed the


The memory locking interfaces are declared in

. This header file declares the following functions: int mlock(caddr_t addr, size_t length); mlock() locks length bytes starting at address addr. Since Linux can only lock entire pages, the beginning and the end of the locked region are "rounded" to fit into page boundaries. Consequently, the locked block may be equal or larger than length. When mlock() returns, all the pages in the specified range have been locked in RAM. int mlockall(int flags); To lock the entire address space of a process, you call the mlockall() function. The flags argument may be one of the following constants or both of them combined with the bitwise OR operator: * MCL_CURRENT - all the pages in the process's address space are locked into RAM. * MCL_FUTURE - all future pages added to the process's address space would be locked into RAM. To unlock memory, you call munlock(): int munlock(caddr_t addr, size_t length); The munlock() function takes the same arguments as mlock() and unlocks all the pages in the indicated region. To lock all the locked regions at once, call munlockall(). This function has the following prototype: int munlockall(void); Locking the same page multiple times has the same effect as locking it once. Regardless of the number of lock operations, a single call to munlock() will unlock the specified region. ________________________________________________________________________ CORRECTION In last week's newsletter, I made a typo in the final section. The call to the goodday() function through a pointer should read pgoodday(), not goodday(). Likewise, the second technical note should read as follows: pgoodday(); /* #2 call library's function through the pointer obtained previously*/ 2. When you call a function through a pointer, you use the pointer as if it were the function's name. However, the following form is also legal, albeit antiquated and perhaps less readable: (*pgoodday)();.
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