E.4 Remote Subprogram Calls
remote subprogram call
is a subprogram call that invokes the execution
of a subprogram in another (active)
The partition that originates the remote subprogram call is the calling
, and the partition that executes the corresponding subprogram
body is the called partition
. Some remote procedure calls are
allowed to return prior to the completion of subprogram execution. These
are called asynchronous remote procedure calls
Remote subprogram calls are always between active
partitions; a passive partition has no execution resources of its own
and thus cannot execute anything, while a remote subprogram call is always
executed by the called partition.
There are three different
ways of performing a remote subprogram call:
As a direct call on a (remote) subprogram explicitly
declared in a remote call interface;
As an indirect call through a value of a remote
As a dispatching call with a controlling operand
designated by a value of a remote access-to-class-wide type.
The first way of calling corresponds to a static
binding between the calling and the called partition. The latter two
ways correspond to a dynamic binding between the calling and the
Remote types library units (see E.2.2
remote call interface library units (see E.2.3
define the remote subprograms or remote access types used for remote
Language Design Principles
Remote subprogram calls are standardized since
the RPC paradigm is widely-used, and establishing an interface to it
in the annex will increase the portability and reusability of distributed
In a dispatching call with two or more controlling
operands, if one controlling operand is designated by a value of a remote
access-to-class-wide type, then all shall be.
A nonblocking program unit shall not contain, other
than within nested units with Nonblocking specified as statically False,
a dispatching call with a controlling operand designated by a value of
a remote access-to-class-wide type.
Reason: Such a
dispatching call is a potentially blocking call (see below) even if the
called subprogram is nonblocking, so we must not assert that no blocking
calls is illegal if the Nonblocking aspect of the containing unit is
True, either implicitly by inheritance or by explicit specification.
the execution of a remote subprogram call, subprogram parameters (and
later the results, if any) are passed using a stream-oriented representation
) [which is suitable for transmission
between partitions]. This action is called marshalling
is the reverse action of reconstructing the parameters or results from
the stream-oriented representation. [Marshalling is performed initially
as part of the remote subprogram call in the calling partition; unmarshalling
is done in the called partition. After the remote subprogram completes,
marshalling is performed in the called partition, and finally unmarshalling
is done in the calling partition.]
is the sequence of code that replaces the subprogram body of
a remotely called subprogram in the calling partition. A receiving
is the sequence of code (the “wrapper”) that receives
a remote subprogram call on the called partition and invokes the appropriate
The use of the term stub
in this annex should not be confused with body_stub
as defined in 10.1.3
. The term stub
is used here because it is a commonly understood term when talking about
the RPC paradigm.
Remote subprogram calls are
executed at most once, that is, if the subprogram call returns normally,
then the called subprogram's body was executed exactly once.
The task executing a remote subprogram call blocks
until the subprogram in the called partition returns, unless the call
is asynchronous. For an asynchronous remote procedure call, the calling
task can become ready before the procedure in the called partition returns.
If a construct containing a
remote call is aborted, the remote subprogram call is cancelled
Whether the execution of the remote subprogram is immediately aborted
as a result of the cancellation is implementation defined.
Implementation defined: Whether the execution
of the remote subprogram is immediately aborted as a result of cancellation.
If a remote subprogram call is received by a called
partition before the partition has completed its elaboration, the call
is kept pending until the called partition completes its elaboration
(unless the call is cancelled by the calling partition prior to that).
If an exception is propagated by a remotely called
subprogram, and the call is not an asynchronous call, the corresponding
exception is reraised at the point of the remote subprogram call. For
an asynchronous call, if the remote procedure call returns prior to the
completion of the remotely called subprogram, any exception is lost.
The exception Communication_Error (see E.5
is raised if a remote call cannot be completed due to difficulties in
communicating with the called partition.
All forms of remote subprogram
calls are potentially blocking operations (see 9.5 9.5.1
Reason: Asynchronous remote procedure
calls are potentially blocking since the implementation may require waiting
for the availability of shared resources to initiate the remote call.
In a remote subprogram call
with a formal parameter of a class-wide type, a check is made that the
tag of the actual parameter identifies a tagged type declared in a declared-pure
or shared passive library unit, or in the visible part of a remote types
or remote call interface library unit.
is raised if this check fails. In a remote function call which returns
a class-wide type, the same check is made on the function result.
This check makes certain that the specific type passed or returned in
an RPC satisfies the rules for a "communicable" type. Normally
this is guaranteed by the compile-time restrictions on remote call interfaces.
However, with class-wide types, it is possible to pass an object whose
tag identifies a type declared outside the "safe" packages.
This is considered an accessibility_check since
only the types declared in "safe" packages are considered truly
"global" (cross-partition). Other types are local to a single
partition. This is analogous to the "accessibility" of global
vs. local declarations in a single-partition program.
This rule replaces a rule from an early version
of Ada 9X which was given in the subclause on Remote Types Library Units
Types Library Units
”). That rule tried to prevent "bad"
types from being sent by arranging for their tags to mismatch between
partitions. However, that interfered with other uses of tags. The new
rule allows tags to agree in all partitions, even for those types which
are not "safe" to pass in an RPC.
In a dispatching
call with two or more controlling operands that are designated by values
of a remote access-to-class-wide type, a check is made [(in addition
to the normal Tag_Check — see 11.5
that all the remote access-to-class-wide values originated from Access
that were evaluated by tasks of the same active partition.
is raised if this check fails.
When a remote access-to-class-wide
value is created by an Access attribute_reference
the identity of the active partition that evaluated the attribute_reference
should be recorded in the representation of the remote access value.
The implementation of remote subprogram calls shall
conform to the PCS interface as defined by the specification of the language-defined
package System.RPC (see E.5
). The calling stub
shall use the Do_RPC procedure unless the remote procedure call is asynchronous
in which case Do_APC shall be used. On the receiving side, the corresponding
receiving stub shall be invoked by the RPC-receiver.
Implementation Note: One possible implementation
model is as follows:
The code for calls to subprograms declared in
an RCI package is generated normally, that is, the call-site is the same
as for a local subprogram call. The code for the remotely callable subprogram
bodies is also generated normally. Subprogram's prologue and epilogue
are the same as for a local call.
When compiling the specification of an RCI package,
the compiler generates calling stubs for each visible subprogram. Similarly,
when compiling the body of an RCI package, the compiler generates receiving
stubs for each visible subprogram together with the appropriate tables
to allow the RPC-receiver to locate the correct receiving stub.
For the statically bound remote calls, the identity
of the remote partition is statically determined (it is resolved at configuration/link
The calling stub
operates as follows:
It allocates (or reuses) a stream of Params_Stream_Type
of Initial_Size, and initializes it by repeatedly calling Write operations,
first to identify which remote subprogram in the receiving partition
is being called, and then to pass the incoming value of each of the in
and in out parameters of the call.
It allocates (or reuses) a stream for the Result, unless an aspect Asynchronous
is specified as True for the procedure.
It calls Do_RPC unless an aspect Asynchronous is specified as True for
the procedure in which case it calls Do_APC. An access value designating
the message stream allocated and initialized above is passed as the Params
parameter. An access value designating the Result stream is passed as
the Result parameter.
If the aspect Asynchronous is not specified for the procedure, Do_RPC
blocks until a reply message arrives, and then returns to the calling
stub. The stub returns after extracting from the Result stream, using
Read operations, the in out
parameters or the function
result. If the reply message indicates that the execution of the remote
subprogram propagated an exception, the exception is propagated from
Do_RPC to the calling stub, and thence to the point of the original remote
subprogram call. If Do_RPC detects that communication with the remote
partition has failed, it propagates Communication_Error.
On the receiving
side, the RPC-receiver procedure operates as follows:
It is called from the PCS when a remote-subprogram-call
message is received. The call originates in some remote call receiver
task executed and managed in the context of the PCS.
It extracts information from the stream to
identify the appropriate receiving stub.
The receiving stub extracts the in
and in out parameters using Read from the stream designated by
the Params parameter.
The receiving stub calls the actual subprogram
body and, upon completion of the subprogram, uses Write to insert the
results into the stream pointed to by the Result parameter. The receiving
stub returns to the RPC-receiver procedure which in turn returns to the
PCS. If the actual subprogram body propagates an exception, it is propagated
by the RPC-receiver to the PCS, which handles the exception, and indicates
in the reply message that the execution of the subprogram body propagated
an exception. The exception occurrence can be represented in the reply
message using the Write attribute of Ada.Exceptions.Exception_Occurrence.
For remote access-to-subprogram types:
A value of a remote access-to-subprogram type
can be represented by the following components: a reference to the remote
partition, an index to the package containing the remote subprogram,
and an index to the subprogram within the package. The values of these
components are determined at run time when the remote access value is
created. These three components serve the same purpose when calling Do_APC/RPC,
as in the statically bound remote calls; the only difference is that
they are evaluated dynamically.
For remote access-to-class-wide types:
For each remote access-to-class-wide type, a
calling stub is generated for each dispatching operation of the designated
type. In addition, receiving stubs are generated to perform the remote
dispatching operations in the called partition. The appropriate subprogram_body
is determined as for a local dispatching call once the receiving stub
has been reached.
A value of a remote access-to-class-wide type
can be represented with the following components: a reference to the
remote partition, an index to a table (created one per each such access
type) containing addresses of all the dispatching operations of the designated
type, and an access value designating the actual remote object.
Alternatively, a remote access-to-class-wide
value can be represented as a normal access value, pointing to a "stub"
object which in turn contains the information mentioned above. A call
on any dispatching operation of such a stub object does the remote call,
if necessary, using the information in the stub object to locate the
target partition, etc. This approach has the advantage that less special-casing
is required in the compiler. All access values can remain just a simple
For a call to Do_RPC or
Do_APC: The partition ID of all controlling operands are checked for
equality (a Constraint_Error is raised if this check fails). The partition
ID value is used for the Partition parameter. An index into the tagged-type-descriptor
is created. This index points to the receiving stub of the class-wide
operation. This index and the index to the table (described above) are
written to the stream. Then, the actual parameters are marshalled into
the message stream. For a controlling operand, only the access value
designating the remote object is required (the other two components are
already present in the other parameters).
On the called partition (after the RPC-receiver
has transferred control to the appropriate receiving stub) the parameters
are first unmarshalled. Then, the tags of the controlling operands (obtained
by dereferencing the pointer to the object) are checked for equality.
If the check fails Constraint_Error is raised and
propagated back to the calling partition, unless it is a result of an
asynchronous call. Finally, a dispatching call to the specific subprogram
(based on the controlling object's tag) is made. Note that since this
subprogram is not in an RCI package, no specific stub is generated for
it, it is called normally from the dispatching stub
With respect to shared variables in shared passive library units, the
execution of the corresponding subprogram body of a synchronous remote
procedure call is considered to be part of the execution of the calling
task. The execution of the corresponding subprogram body of an asynchronous
remote procedure call proceeds in parallel with the calling task and
does not signal the next action of the calling task (see 9.10
8 A given active partition can both make
and receive remote subprogram calls. Thus, an active partition can act
as both a client and a server.
9 If a given exception is propagated by
a remote subprogram call, but the exception does not exist in the calling
partition, the exception can be handled by an others choice or
be propagated to and handled by a third partition.
Discussion: This situation can happen
in a case of dynamically nested remote subprogram calls, where an intermediate
call executes in a partition that does not include the library unit that
defines the exception.
Wording Changes from Ada 95
Clarified that the check on class-wide types also
applies to values returned from remote subprogram call functions.
Wording Changes from Ada 2005
Corrected the text to note that remote access types
can be defined in remote types units.
Wording Changes from Ada 2012
Added a rule to ensure that potentially blocking
remote calls are not considered nonblocking.
Clarified that remote subprogram calls are always
to active partitions.
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