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    Note that there is another aspect to the efficiency / performance of the
    select/poll style of interfaces not immediately obvious, but which occurs
    as a result of how some (streaming/batching) protocols work.

    An X server does not call select all that often (probably one of the two items most frequently used that care;
    though I believe getting the Apache case right is more important).

    X is such a streaming protocol: it is a feature that I don't have to do
    extra reads or system calls to deal with more data arriving from a client.
    An X server doesn't want one event generated for each incoming TCP segment:
    it merely needs to know there is data available on a file descriptor as
    a binary condition. I really don't want to have to do one operation per
    segment; this is less efficient than the current situation.

    Similarly, it is a feature that with one call I can find out that there
    is work to do on multiple file descriptors.

    In short, the X server does a select, and then loops across all the file
    descriptors with work to do before doing another select: the system call
    overhead gets amortized across multiple clients and buffers received from
    the client. As the server gets busier, it is more and more likely
    that there is more than one client with work to do, and/or multiple
    TCP segments have arrived to process (in the common single client
    is busy case). So we make the system call less and less often
    as a fraction of work done.

    This has the happy consequence that the select caused overhead DROPS as
    a fraction of total work as the X server gets busier, and X is most efficient
    at the point in time you care the most: when you have the most work to
    do. The system call is returning more information each time it is called,
    and some of that information is aggregated as well (additional data arriving).
    It doesn't practically matter how efficient the X server is when
    you aren't busy, after all.

    This aggregation property is therefore important, and there needs to be
    some way to achieve this, IMHO.

    Web servers often have similar behavior, though since most current
    HTTP clients don't implement streaming behavior, the benefit is currently
    much lower (would that HTTP clients start driving HTTP servers the
    way the HTTP/1.1 protocol allows... Sigh...). Right now, scaling
    to large numbers of descriptors is most urgent for big web servers.

    So I want an interface in which I can get as many events as possible
    at once, and one in which the events themselves can have appropriate
    aggregation behavior. It isn't quite clear to me if the proposed interface
    would have this property.

    As I said in early talks about X: "X is an exercise in avoiding system

    - Jim Gettys
    Jim Gettys
    Technology and Corporate Development
    Compaq Computer Corporation

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