Multithreaded Programming Guide

What is a Thread Pool?

Threads provide a useful paradigm for an application to do many things at once: if you have something to do, create a thread to do it. Using threads can simplify the logic of the application and also take advantage of multiple processors, but creating too many threads can cause overall application performance problems due to contention for resources. The application may end up spending much of its time contending for resources, dealing with mutex locks for example, and less of its time actually doing useful work. Also, creating a thread, though cheaper than creating a process, is still an expense. Creating a thread to do a small amount of work is wasteful.

A thread pool manages a set of anonymous threads that perform work on request. The threads do not terminate right away. When one of the threads completes a task, the thread becomes idle, ready to be dispatched to another task. The overhead of creating and destroying threads is limited to creating and destroying just the number of active worker threads in the pool. The application can have more tasks than there are worker threads, and this is usually the case. Processor utilization and throughput are improved by reducing contention for resources. The submitted tasks are processed in order, usually faster than could be done by creating a thread per task.