Crypto: Node.js, single-threaded to multithreaded

A thread is a segment of code for executing a series of instructions within an environment. It is used to run two programs simultaneously on the same network. Multithreading refers to a higher processing speed of operations by a processor (network, environment, etc.). Therefore, a multithreaded system can run multiple threads at the same time, without losing efficiency. The multithreading applied in the field of cryptocurrencies allows to increase the transaction speed within the blockchains. That said, you can now use it in Node.js, a basically single-threaded runtime environment. You should know that Node.js allows you to build applications that are easy to use, fast and scalable.

Node.js, to handle asynchronous operations

Node.js is based on the JavaScript (JS) programming language, which is natively synchronous. Note that with synchronous language, actions are ordered over time. This language allows to develop complex systems with reactivity. Basically, JavaScript needed to run on web browsers and allow users to interact with web pages. The problem is that the synchronous execution stream can be deadlocked if operations are performed on a single thread. To solve this problemJS had to become asynchronousto avoid having to create multiple threads.

Ryan Dahl created Node.js precisely to avoid the use of threads while handling asynchronous operations. According to the Node.js documentation, “thread-based networking is relatively inefficient and very difficult to use. Also, users of Node.js don’t have to worry about blocking the process, as there are no blocks.“.

That said, despite being single-threaded (single-threaded), Node.js generally allows itperform operations without blocking of the process in question. For this reason, this environment can be easily used to develop scalable systems. Note that it can happen that the flow of execution is blocked if the synchronous methods of the standard Node.js library are called.

Single-threaded and multiprocessing

Node.js is generally a single-threaded environment, which means that processes run using a single thread. With this system, the execution of a set of operations at a given time prevents that of the other operations. Since this situation is not very convenient, Node.js offers multiprocessing which is different from multithreading.

Multiprocessing involves creating multiple processes to perform operations on a file, for example. With this method, users have the ability to perform certain operations in parallel. However, the creation of a process consumes a lot of resources and it is slow. Multiprocessing is therefore less practical than multithreading where the creation of a thread is fast and cheap.

The Node.js worker threads module

Worker threads are programs capable of executing JavaScript operations that require intensive use of the CPU. They process transactions without blocking the execution of programs that need to run in parallel. On the other hand, they are not very effective for carrying out intensive work.

Note that the worker-threads module is only available from version 10.5.0 of Node.js. Multithreading is implemented in Node.js via the worker-threads module. The Node.js documentation provides detailed information on suitable code to use the worker-threads module.

You should know that a process can consist of several instructions. With single-threading, each statement is executed after the operation before it has been executed, which can block the flow of execution. With multithreading, on the other hand, all the instructions of a process can be executed at the same time, limiting the risk of blocking.

Basically, the Node.js environment does not support multithreading – multiprocessing is applied instead. But, thanks to the worker-threads module, it is now possible to apply multithreading in Node.js. With multithreading, we see the simultaneous execution of several code segments called threads within a single process. This helps build faster and more scalable applications.

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