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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Program Buffer and the Roll Area

Programs are buffered on the application server in a program buffer. When a user makes a request to run a program, a search is done in the program buffer for it. If it is found, and if it has not been modified in the database, the buffered copy is used. If not, or if the copy in the database is newer, the program is reloaded.

A separate copy of the program is not made in memory for each user who executes it. Instead, all users execute the same copy of the program. The differentiating factor is a separate memory allocation called a roll area.
One roll area is allocated per execution per user per program. The system uses the roll area to hold all information about the current execution of the program and all memory allocations. Information such as the variables and their values, the current program pointer, and the list output are all kept in the roll area.
For example, suppose a user executes a program and a roll area is allocated. If, without waiting for it to finish, the user switches to another session and starts up the same program again, another roll area is allocated for the second execution of that program. The user has two roll areas, one for each execution of the program. If the user had instead run a different program, he would still have two roll areas, one for each program.

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