JAVA NIO – Channel

A channel uses ByteBuffer to transfer I/O from source buffers to target buffers. We can pass the data into Buffer, which send to Channel or Channel push the data into Buffer back.

Channels provide direct connection with IO to transport data from OS ByteBuffer and File or Sockets. Channel uses buffers to send and receive data, which is compatible with OS ByteBuffer and minimize the overhead to access the OS’s filesystem.

A channel provides open connection to I/O such as network socket, file etc. to read and write operations. Channel could not directly open but could be open by calling open method on RandomAccessFile, FileInputStream, or FileOutputStream object. A Channel interface provides close method and once channel closed it could not able to reopen and throws exception ClosedChannelException.

Below is the Channel interface

public interface Channel extends Closeable {
public boolean isOpen();
public void close() throws IOException;

Channel interface depends upon operating system native calls provide by OS provider. It provides isOpen () to check is channel is open and close () to close the open channel,

Below diagram shows overall package diagram

JAVA NIO Channel

The InterruptibleChannel interface is marker that could be asynchronously closed and interrupted, means if a thread is blocked in an I/O operation on as interruptible channel then thread may invoke close method asynchronously.

WritableByteChannel interface that extends Channel interface provide write (ByteBuffer src) method to write a sequence of bytes to this channel from the given buffer.

RedableByteChannel interface have read (ByteBuffer) method that reads sequence of bytes from channel into the buffer passed as argument. Only one thread can invoke read operation and if other thread initiate that time it will block until the first operation is complete.

The NIO provide concretes interfaces with various implementation in SPI package which could be change by different provider. SelectableChannel uses Selector to multiplex ByteBuffer. Package java.nio.channels.spi provide implementation of various channel. For instance AbstractInterruptibleChannel and AbstractSelectableChannel, provide the methods needed by channel implementations that are interruptible or selectable, respectively.

A Channel handle communicates with I/O in both direction similar to InputStream and OutputStream. It is capable to handle concurrent write & read, means it doesn’t block I/O to be read or write.

Channels Creations

There are two types of channel File and Sockets. Sockets channels are three types SocketChannel, ServerSocketChannel and DatagramChannel. Channel could be created in several ways for instance socket channels have factory method to create new socket channels whereas FileChannel could be created by calling getChannel () in IO Stream / RandomAccessFile.

SocketChannel socketchannel = );
socketchannel.connect (new InetSocketAddress ("host", someport));
ServerSocketChannel channel = );
ssc.socket( ).bind (new InetSocketAddress (somelocalport));
DatagramChannel channel = );
RandomAccessFile randaccfile = new RandomAccessFile ("file", "r");
FileChannel channel = randaccfile.getChannel( );

Channels could be unidirectional or bidirectional for instance if class implements ReadableByteChannel and WritableByteChannel both then this class will be bidirectional channel but if class implements any one of them then it will be unidirectional channel.


Selector provides capabilities to process single IO operation across multiple buffers. Selector class uses multiplex to merge multiple stream into single stream and DE-multiplex to separate single stream to multiple stream. For example write data is gathered from multiple buffers and sent to Channel.

Selector operation intern call OS native call to fill or drain data directly without directly copying to buffer.

public interface ScatteringByteChannel extends ReadableByteChannel {
public long read(ByteBuffer[] dsts, int offset, int length) throws IOException;
public long read(ByteBuffer[] dsts) throws IOException;

public interface GatheringByteChannel extends WritableByteChannel {
public long write(ByteBuffer[] srcs) throws IOException;
public interface WritableByteChannel extends Channel {
public int write(ByteBuffer src) throws IOException;


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