GNAT's run-time support comprises two layers:
In GNAT, Ada's tasking services rely on a platform and OS independent layer known as GNARL. This code is responsible for implementing the correct semantics of Ada's task creation, rendezvous, protected operations etc.
GNARL decomposes Ada's tasking semantics into simpler lower level operations such as create a thread, set the priority of a thread, yield, create a lock, lock/unlock, etc. The spec for these low-level operations constitutes GNULLI, the GNULL Interface. This interface is directly inspired from the POSIX real-time API.
If the underlying executive or OS implements the POSIX standard faithfully, the GNULL Interface maps as is to the services offered by the underlying kernel. Otherwise, some target dependent glue code maps the services offered by the underlying kernel to the semantics expected by GNARL.
Whatever the underlying OS (VxWorks, UNIX, OS/2, Windows NT, etc.) the key point is that each Ada task is mapped on a thread in the underlying kernel. For example, in the case of VxWorks, one Ada task = one VxWorks task.
In addition Ada task priorities map onto the underlying thread priorities. Mapping Ada tasks onto the underlying kernel threads has several advantages:
Some threads libraries offer a mechanism to fork a new process, with the child process duplicating the threads from the parent. GNAT does not support this functionality when the parent contains more than one task.