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Pipe vs Queue: Understanding Multiprocessing in Python

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Are you struggling to understand multiprocessing in Python? Do you ever wonder about the difference between a pipe and a queue? Well, look no further because we’re here to clarify things for you!

In Python’s multiprocessing module, pipes and queues are both used for interprocess communication. However, they have different use cases and features that make them unique.

Pipes are mainly used for one-way communication between two processes. They allow data to be sent from one process to another but not the other way around. On the other hand, a queue offers a more versatile way of exchanging data between processes. A queue uses a FIFO (first in, first out) method to allow multiple processes to access and manipulate data concurrently.

So, which one should you use? It ultimately depends on your specific needs. If you only require one-way communication between two processes, then a pipe would suffice. However, if you need multiple processes to communicate and share data concurrently, then a queue would be the way to go.

Overall, understanding the differences between pipes and queues can greatly benefit your multiprocessing implementation in Python. So, if you want to dive deeper into this topic, read on! We promise it will be worth it.

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“Multiprocessing – Pipe Vs Queue” ~ bbaz

Pipe vs Queue: Understanding Multiprocessing in Python


Multiprocessing is a powerful feature in Python programming that enables the execution of multiple processes in parallel. One of the important considerations when implementing multiprocessing is communication between these processes. This article will explore two popular ways of implementing inter-process communication in Python: Pipe and Queue.

What is a Pipe?

A pipe is a unidirectional communication channel that allows transmitting data between processes in one direction only. It has a read end and a write end. The write end sends data to the read end.

In Python, pipes can be created using the pipe() function from the multiprocessing module.

What is a Queue?

A Queue is a more general-purpose tool for inter-process communication. It is a thread-safe data structure that allows multiple processes to share data. A Queue has both put and get methods such that any process can add data to the queue or retrieve data from the queue.

In Python, Queues can be created using the Queue class from the multiprocessing module.

Differences in Multidirectional Data Sharing

The Pipe can be used to pass only one end of the process. The Queue is a more flexible structure that allows us to share data in either direction.

The following is the example of the Queue use:

“`import multiprocessingimport timedef worker(queue): time.sleep(1) queue.put(Hello World)if __name__ == ‘__main__’: queue = multiprocessing.Queue() p = multiprocessing.Process(target=worker, args=(queue,)) p.start() print(queue.get())“`

Differences in Synchronization

Pipes are not thread-safe. They require that one process wait for another process to complete its task before it can continue.Queues are thread-safe. Multiple processes can modify them simultaneously without conflict.

Speed and Performance Comparison

Pipes have a lower overhead than Queues because they do not use synchronization mechanisms. However, while Pipes perform faster in some situations, their speed and performance are directly related to the volume of data sent.Queues are slower than Pipes because they use extra CPU cycles for synchronization. However, Queues work well with large amounts of data and are faster than Pipes when used with large datasets.

Differences in Memory Usage

Pipes are ideal for small amounts of message data transfer between two processes since they occupy less memory in comparison to Queues.Queues are ideal for transferring large amounts of data between processes because they allocate memory blocks dynamically, depending on the expected amount of data to be transferred.

Who Should Use Pipe vs. Queue?

In summary, Pipes are suitable for simple, one-directional communication, and Queues are more robust for multi-directional and large dataset communication tasks.


The choice between using a Pipe or a Queue in Python depends on the unique requirements of your project. While both offer important inter-process communication capabilities, Queues tend to be more flexible, more robust, and easier to implement in more sophisticated multi-processing scenarios. Pipes, on the other hand, shine when used in simpler communication scenarios where only one-directional communication is necessary. By taking time to understand each tool’s features and limitations, developers can choose the right one to optimize their application’s performance effectively.

The following table summarizes the major differences between Pipe vs. Queue:

Feature Pipe Queue
Directional Communication One-directional Bi-Directional
Synchronization Not thread-safe Thread-safe
Speed Fast but slower than Queue in large data sets Slower but faster than Pipe in large data sets
Memory Usage Low High

Thank you for taking the time to explore the differences between Pipe and Queue in Python multi-processing with us today.

We hope that this article has helped to provide you with a clear understanding of the two concepts and their individual strengths and weaknesses when it comes to managing data and communication between multiple processes. While both concepts share some similarities, such as their ability to handle inter-process communication, it’s crucial to recognize their distinct characteristics to choose the one that best fits your needs.

Whether you’re working on a large-scale project or a smaller development task, having a clear understanding of multi-processing and its various features can significantly enhance your code’s efficiency and create a more seamless user experience. We encourage you to continue your exploration of the topic and welcome any further questions or feedback you may have.

People also ask about Pipe vs Queue: Understanding Multiprocessing in Python

  1. What is multiprocessing in Python?

    Python multiprocessing is a module that enables the execution of multiple processes or threads simultaneously in a single program.

  2. What is a pipe in multiprocessing?

    A pipe is a communication channel used to transmit data between two processes in multiprocessing. It provides a one-way communication channel, where one process writes to the pipe, and the other reads from it.

  3. What is a queue in multiprocessing?

    A queue in Python multiprocessing is a data structure used to store items that can be accessed by multiple processes. A queue provides a thread-safe way to exchange data between processes.

  4. What is the difference between a pipe and a queue in multiprocessing?

    A pipe is a one-way communication channel used to transmit data between two processes, while a queue is a data structure that can be accessed by multiple processes to exchange data. Pipes are typically used for simple data sharing between two processes, while queues are used for more complex data exchange scenarios.

  5. When should I use a pipe in multiprocessing?

    You should use a pipe in multiprocessing when you need to transmit data between two processes in a simple and straightforward manner, without the need for complex synchronization mechanisms.

  6. When should I use a queue in multiprocessing?

    You should use a queue in multiprocessing when you need to exchange data between multiple processes in a thread-safe and synchronized manner. Queues provide a reliable way to transfer data between processes, even when the processes are running on different cores or machines.