FAQ: Multithreading

Table of contents

How do I use multithreading?

Make sure you read Godot's thread safety guidelines.


Read the guidelines again. Make sure you fully understand them.
Anything not explicitly allowed there is a potential minefield.

This cannot be stressed enough, because threading can easily turn a fun gamedev experience into a debugging nightmare. In fact, most occurrences of undefined behavior (UB) with godot-rust occur not because of FFI, dangling objects or broken C++ code, but because threads are used incorrectly. By understanding the implications of multithreading, you can save a lot of effort.

A few points are worth highlighting in particular:

  1. Do not mix GDScript's Thread/Mutex classes with Rust's std::thread and std::sync modules; they are not compatible. If you absolutely must access GDScript threads from Rust, use the correct Thread and Mutex APIs for it.
  2. Prefer Rust threads whenever possible. Safe Rust statically guarantees that no race conditions can occur (deadlocks are still possible). In practice, this often means that:
    • your game logic (e.g. loading a map) can run in a separate thread, entirely without touching any Godot APIs
    • your main thread is exclusively accessing Godot APIs
    • the two threads can communicate via channels.
  3. As elaborated in Godot's guidelines, most Godot classes are simply not thread-safe. This means you can absolutely not access them concurrently without synchronization. Even if things seem to work, you may invoke UB which can manifest in hard-to-find places.
  4. It is tempting to think that synchronizing concurrent access to an object through Mutex solves threading issues. However, this may not be the case: sometimes there are hidden dependencies between unrelated types -- for example, a Resource might access a global registry, which is currently written by a different object in another thread. Some types internally use shared caches. A lot of these things are undocumented, which means you must know Godot's implementation to be sure. And the implementation can always change and introduce a bug in the future.

TLDR: Be conservative regarding assumptions about the thread-safety of Godot APIs.
Rust threads (without Godot APIs) are a very powerful tool -- use them!

Why does my game freeze while using multiple threads?

Make sure you have multi-threading enabled under Project Settings > Rendering > Threading.

In addition, you will need to ensure that you are not ending up with a deadlock scenario within your Rust code.

Last, you may have violated one of the multithreading guidelines and tips in the first section.

Why is accessing the servers using multiple threads slow?

Aside from deadlock issues, there are a few potential points to investigate when using Godot's servers.

Potential cause #1 - command queue is too small

For multi-threaded access the servers use a thread-safe command queue. This allows you to send multiple commands from any thread. These queues have a fixed size that can be set in the threading section of the Memory -> Limits section of the Project settings.

Potential cause #2 - rayon parallel iterators

The reference created by a server method such as VisualServer::godot_singleton() is not thread-safe. As such, you have to individually get a reference to the singleton. This can cause severe slowdown, that would not occur if the same job were run from a single thread.

Multi-threading with servers requires that you manually create a thread pool that can hold the reference to the server. Additional testing is required to ensure that this is an actual optimization.

Why do I get the DifferentThread error?

For example, what does the following error indicate?

fn main() {
ERROR: <native>: gdnative-core: method call failed with error: 
       DifferentThread { original: ThreadId(1), current: ThreadId(2) }
   At: src/path/to/class.rs:29
ERROR: <native>: gdnative-core: check module level documentation
                 on gdnative::user_data for more information
   At: src/path/to/class.rs:29

If you call certain code from Godot and receive the above error, it is likely that you need to change the user_data that comes with your NativeClass derive. If no type is specified, it defaults to LocalCellData, which can only be used from the thread it was created in.

See the official docs for more information on when you should use each type of data.