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What is multi-threading operating system

What is multi-threading operating system

What is multi-threading operating system:- A thread is a flow of execution through the process code, with its own program counter, system registers and stack. A thread is also called a light weight process. Threads provide a way to improve application performance through parallelism. Threads represent a software approach to improving performance of operating system by reducing the overhead thread is equivalent to a classical process. Each thread belongs to exactly one process and no thread can exist outside a process. Each thread represents a separate flow of control. Threads have been successfully used in implementing network servers and web server. They also provide a suitable foundation for parallel execution of applications on shared memory multiprocessors. Following figure shows the working of the single and multi threaded processes.

Read:- What is operating system processes

What is multi-threading operating system

This section describes thread, types of threads and various thread models.

Differences between Process and Thread?

Advantages of Thread :- 

  • Thread minimizes context switching time.
  • Use of threads provides concurrency within a process.
  • Efficient communication.
  • Economy- It is more economical to create and context switch threads.
  • Utilization of multiprocessor architectures to a greater scale and efficiency.

Types of Thread:-

Threads are implemented in following two ways.

User Level Threads:- User managed threads.
Kernel Level Threads:- Operating System managed threads acting on kernel, an operating system core.

User Level Threads:-

In this case, application manages thread management kernel is not aware of the existence of threads. The thread library contains code for creating and destroying threads, for passing message and data between threads, for scheduling thread execution and for saving and restoring thread contexts. The application begins with a single thread and begins running in that thread.

What is multi-threading operating system


  • Thread switching does not require Kernel mode privileges.
  • User level thread can run on any operating system.
  • Scheduling can be application specific in the user level thread.
  • User level threads are fast to create and manage.


  • In a typical operating system, most system calls are blocking.
  • Multi-threaded application cannot take advantage of multiprocessing.

Kernel Level Threads:- 

In this case, thread management done by the Kernel. There is no thread management code in the application area. Kernel threads are supported directly by the operating system. Any application can be programmed to be multi-threaded. All of the threads within an application are supported within a single process. The Kernel maintains context information for the process as a whole and for individuals’ threads within the process. Scheduling by the Kernel is done on a thread basis. The Kernel performs thread creation, scheduling and management in Kernel space. Kernel threads are generally slower to create and manage than the user threads.


  • Kernel can simultaneously schedule multiple threads from the same process on multiple processes.
  • If one thread in a process is blocked, the Kernel can schedule another thread of the same process.
  • Kernel routines themselves can multi-threaded.


  • Kernel threads are generally slower to create and manage than the user threads.
  • Transfer of control from one thread to another within same process requires a mode switch to the Kernel.

Multi-threading Models:-

Some operating system provides a combined user level thread and Kernel level thread facility. Solaris is a good example of this combined approach. In a combined system, multiple threads within the same application can run in parallel on multiple processors and a blocking system call need not block the entire process. Multithreading models are three types

  • Many to many relationship.
  • Many to one relationship.
  • One to one relationship.

Many to Many Model:-

In this model, many user level threads multiplexes to the Kernel thread of smaller or equal numbers. The number of Kernel threads may be specific to either a particular application or a particular machine. Following diagram shows the many to many model. In this model, developers can create as many user threads as necessary and the corresponding Kernel threads can run in parallels on a multiprocessor.

What is multi-threading operating system

Many to One Model:-

Many to one model maps many user level threads to one Kernel level thread. Thread management is done in user space. When thread makes a blocking system call, the entire process will be blocks. Only one thread can access the Kernel at a time, so multiple threads are unable to run in parallel on multiprocessors. If the user level thread libraries are implemented in the operating system in such a way that system does not support them then Kernel threads use the many to one relationship modes.

Difference between User Level & Kernel Level Thread?

What is multi-threading operating system

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