They are NOT the same thing. They are used for different purposes!
While both types of semaphores have a full/empty state and use the same API, their usage is very different.
Mutual Exclusion Semaphores
Mutual Exclusion semaphores are used to protect shared resources (data structure, file, etc..).
A Mutex semaphore is “owned” by the task that takes it. If Task B attempts to semGive a mutex currently held by Task A, Task B’s call will return an error and fail.
Mutexes always use the following sequence:
- SemTake - Critical Section - SemGive
Here is a simple example:
Thread A Thread B Take Mutex access data ... Take Mutex <== Will block ... Give Mutex access data <== Unblocks ... Give Mutex
Binary Semaphore address a totally different question:
- Task B is pended waiting for something to happen (a sensor being tripped for example).
- Sensor Trips and an Interrupt Service Routine runs. It needs to notify a task of the trip.
- Task B should run and take appropriate actions for the sensor trip. Then go back to waiting.
Task A Task B ... Take BinSemaphore <== wait for something Do Something Noteworthy Give BinSemaphore do something <== unblocks
Note that with a binary semaphore, it is OK for B to take the semaphore and A to give it.
Again, a binary semaphore is NOT protecting a resource from access. The act of Giving and Taking a semaphore are fundamentally decoupled.
It typically makes little sense for the same task to so a give and a take on the same binary semaphore.