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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How Requests Are Processed by the Thread Pool In IIS

On the web server, the .NET Framework maintains a pool of threads that are used to service ASP.NET requests. When a request arrives, a thread from the pool is dispatched to process that request. If the request is processed synchronously, the thread that processes the request is busy while the request is being processed, and that thread cannot service another request.

This might not be a problem, because the thread pool can be made large enough to accommodate many busy threads. However, the number of threads in the thread pool is limited (the default maximum for .NET 4.5 is 5,000). In large applications with high concurrency of  long-running requests, all available threads might be busy. This condition is known as thread starvation. When this condition is reached, the web server queues requests. If the request queue becomes full, the web server rejects requests with an HTTP 503 status (Server Too Busy). The CLR thread pool has limitations on new thread injections. If concurrency is bursty (that is, your web site can suddenly get a large number of requests) and  all available request threads are busy because of backend calls with  high latency, the limited thread injection rate can make your application respond very poorly.  Additionally, each new thread added to the thread pool has overhead (such as 1 MB of stack memory). A web application  using synchronous methods to service high latency calls where the thread pool grows to the .NET 4.5 default maximum  of 5, 000 threads would consume approximately 5 GB more memory than an application able the service the same requests using asynchronous methods and only 50 threads. When you’re doing asynchronous work, you’re not always using a thread. For example, when you make an asynchronous web service request, ASP.NET will not be using any threads between the async method call and the await.  Using the thread pool to service requests with high latency can lead to a large memory footprint and poor utilization of the server hardware.

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