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Reading or writing pipe data is atomic if the size of data written
is not greater than
PIPE_BUF. This means that the data transfer
seems to be an instantaneous unit, in that nothing else in the system
can observe a state in which it is partially complete. Atomic I/O may
not begin right away (it may need to wait for buffer space or for data),
but once it does begin it finishes immediately.
Reading or writing a larger amount of data may not be atomic; for
example, output data from other processes sharing the descriptor may be
interspersed. Also, once
PIPE_BUF characters have been written,
further writes will block until some characters are read.
See Limits on File System Capacity, for information about the