Socket Groups

Windows Sockets 2 introduces the concept of a socket group as a means for an application (or cooperating set of applications) to indicate to an underlying service provider that a particular set of sockets are related, and that the group thus formed has certain attributes. Group attributes include relative priorities of the individual sockets within the group and a group's quality of service specification.

Applications needing to exchange multimedia streams over the network benefit by establishing a specific relationship among the set of sockets being utilized. This can include, as a minimum, an indication to the service provider about the relative priorities of the media streams being carried. For example, a conferencing application would likely give the socket used for carrying the audio stream a higher priority than the socket used for the video stream. Furthermore, there are transport providers (for example, digital telephony and ATM) that can utilize a group, quality-of-service specification to determine the appropriate characteristics for the underlying call or circuit connection. The sockets within a group are then multiplexed in the usual manner over this call. By allowing the application to identify the sockets that make up a group and to specify the required group attributes, service providers can operate with maximum effectiveness.

The WSASocket and WSAAccept functions are two new functions used to specifically create and join a socket group coincident with creating a new socket. Socket group identifiers can be retrieved by using getsockopt with option SO_GROUP_ID. Relative priority can be accessed by using get/setsockopt with option SO_GROUP_PRIORITY.

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