Python Multithreading vs. Multiprocessing: What’s the Difference?

Comprehending the disparities between Python's multithreading and multiprocessing is essential to attain exceptional outcomes in software engineering. Understanding critical differences between the two can help make decisions for implementing parallel applications, leading to optimized performance and resource utilization.

This blog post compares the distinctions between these two processes, effectively using concurrent computing techniques in your Python projects.

An Overview of Python Multithreading and Multiprocessing


Amidst software development, Python emerges as an attractive programming language. This coding instrument provides two essential procedures for parallel processing: multithreading and multiprocessing. Each approach presents its benefits and shortcomings; therefore, it is vital for developers to comprehensively recognize their differences to choose the most fitting procedure according to their particular use case at hand.

Python Multithreading

Multithreading makes concurrency possible in a progression. By enabling the simultaneous execution of numerous threads, it facilitates task completion concurrently. Utilizing this system considerably increases productivity and promotes efficiency within the system. Within a circle, a thread is the smallest unit of execution. Each thread can run independently while sharing the same memory space as other threads within the process. This enables efficient communication and data sharing between threads, improving performance in specific scenarios.

Python's Threading Module

The module contains various classes and functions, each with distinctive capabilities. Users can create threads using the Thread trait, access synchronized resources using Lock, and organize multiple thread executions using Semaphore. This simple demonstration showcases the creation and execution of twin threads in Python. Here's a simple example of creating and running two threads in Python:

coding example
coding example

Shared Memory Model

In a Python program with multiple threads, the entire threads within one procedure occupy and utilize identical memory space. This means they can access and modify the same variables and data structures, allowing efficient communication between lines. Nevertheless, applying this collective recollection approach may incite synchronization concerns and competitions that necessitate meticulous administration with restraining mechanisms such as locks, semaphores, or other coordinative rudiments implemented by the threading module.

Global Interpreter Lock (GIL) and Its Limitations

The Global Interpreter Lock, or GIL for short, impedes Python's multithreading efficacy. The GIL is a mutex that protects Python object access by prohibiting several threads from executing Python bytecode simultaneously, even on multi-core platforms. Python operates by executing a single code strand. This scenario often leads to performance issues during the execution of tasks that pose heavy demands on your computer's central processing unit (CPU).

The GIL is necessary to ensure the correct execution of Python programs and to maintain reference counting for memory management. Despite its potential advantages, multithreading may only be beneficial due to VUS factors that can impede performance, such as computational complexity and intricate tasks. In such cases, multiprocessing might be more suitable for achieving parallelism in Python applications.

Python Multiprocessing

Python Multiprocessing
Python Multiprocessing

Using multiple processing cores allows an application to perform different operations simultaneously, called multiprocessing. This method substantially enhances the productivity of central processing unit-intensive undertakings through allotting duties among numerous cores, culminating in decreased total implementation duration.

Python's Multiprocessing Module

The multiprocessing feature already ingrained in Python allows programmers to initiate and oversee numerous processes effortlessly. The multiprocessing component's high-level API abstracts intricate synchronization, inter-process communication, and process management details. Some integral constituents of this feature include:

  • Process: A class that represents a single process. It provides methods to start, stop, and manage the process.
  • Pool: A class that manages a pool of worker processes. It enables parallel execution of tasks using a simple map-reduce pattern.
  • Queue: A class that implements a queue data structure for inter-process communication. It allows processes to exchange data in a thread-safe and process-safe manner.
  • Pipe: The function returns a pair of connection objects that enable bidirectional communication between two processes.
  • Lock: A class that provides a synchronization primitive for controlling access to shared resources.

Separate Memory Spaces

Python's multiprocessing module ensures that each process operates within its memory region, preventing sharing of public variables or data structures. This isolation helps avoid race conditions and other concurrency-related issues. You can use shared memory components, such as Value or Array, from the multiprocessing library to exchange information between different operations. Alternatively, inter-process communication techniques such as Queue and Pipe can serve the same purpose.

Bypassing the GIL's Limitations

CPython's Global Interpreter Lock (GIL) is a mutex that restricts the execution of Python bytecodes by multiple native threads concurrently, which can hinder the efficient execution of programs utilizing multiple threads, particularly on systems with several cores. However, the multiprocessing module overcomes the limitations of the GIL by using separate processes instead of threads. Each process runs in its interpreter with its own GIL, enabling them to execute Python code concurrently and fully utilize multiple processor cores.

Multithreading vs. Multiprocessing: When to Use Each

Multithreading vs. Multiprocessing When to Use Each
Multithreading- vs. Multiprocessing When to Use Each

To make a wise decision when choosing between multithreading or multiprocessing, it is crucial to give paramount importance to considering numerous variables.

  • Task type: If your duties involve input/output operations such as reading and writing files or communicating over a network, utilizing multithreading can be productive. This approach allows the Global Interpreter Lock (GIL) to become available during such operations. On the other hand, for CPU-intensive tasks like complex computations, it may prove more optimal to use multiprocessing. This approach allows you to circumvent the limitations imposed by GIL.
  • Memory usage: Multithreading can be more memory-efficient than multiprocessing since threads share memory. However, shared memory can also lead to synchronization issues and race conditions. Multiprocessing, with its separate memory spaces, avoids these problems but requires more memory.
  • Complexity: Multithreading can be more challenging to implement and debug due to shared memory and potential synchronization issues. Multiprocessing, with its isolated processes, can be easier to work with but may require more effort to set up inter-process communication.


Understanding the differences between Python multithreading and multiprocessing is essential for improving your software development efforts. Multiprocessing provides true parallelism, making it better suited for CPU-bound tasks than multithreading, which is more beneficial for I/O-bound tasks and memory efficiency. You can determine which technique to use in your Python applications by assessing your duties and materials.

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