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by Jiří {x2} Činčura

ThreadPool.QueueUserWorkItem has a generic overload (and a new parameter)

24 Jan 2019 .NET Core, .NET Standard, Multithreading/Parallelism/Asynchronous/Concurrency

Although nowadays people, including me, are working mostly with tasks and async/await, sometimes going one level lower is helpful, because there’s less to worry about. And as I was today calling trusty ThreadPool.QueueUserWorkItem I found new overload. Overload that is generic.

Since the very beginning the ThreadPool.QueueUserWorkItem took object as a state that was passed to the WaitCallback delegate provided. That means if you passed value type, it was boxed and you then had to cast it back in the delegate. Boxing is not a great for performance (allocations) and casting is easy to mess up, especially when refactoring.

As it turned out, since in .NET Core 2.1 the method has a new generic overload bool QueueUserWorkItem<TState>(Action<TState> callBack, TState state, bool preferLocal). In .NET Standard it’s “only” starting from 2.1. Here is the interesting commit from Stephen Toub. This means both of the above-mentioned problems are not longer an issue.

What is the preferLocal parameter for? It allows you to queue the work item into thread pool thread’s local queue compared to default behavior of going into global queue. That, in some scenarios, reduces contention on the global queue, improves cache locality or takes advantage of work stealing and probably some other things.

While I can use this overload today with .NET 2.1 or 2.2, it’s sad it didn’t make it into .NET Standard 2.0. On the other hand, all the performance goodness’s (like well-known Span<T>) are in .NET Standard 2.1 anyway, so this one is only a drop in the ocean.

The UnsafeQueueUserWorkItem has this new overload as well.

Profile Picture Jiří Činčura is an independent developer focusing on data and business layers, language constructs, parallelism and databases. Specifically Entity Framework, asynchronous and parallel programming, cloud and Azure. He's Microsoft Most Valuable Professional and you can read his articles, guides, tips and tricks at www.tabsoverspaces.com.