A protothread is a low-overhead mechanism for concurrent programming.
Protothreads are non-preemptable. Therefore, a context switch can only take place on blocking operations. Protothreads are also stackless, which means global variables are needed for preserving variables across context switches.
See also 
- A. Dunkels, O. Schmidt, T. Voigt, and M. Ali, Protothreads: Simplifying Event-Driven Programming of Memory-Constrained Embedded Systems, Proc. ACM SenSys, Boulder, CO, USA, Nov 2006. (PDF, Presentation slides)
- Adam Dunkels' website
- Protothread library in C used by Contiki
- Using Protothreads for Sensor Node Programming A PDF with some in-depth discussion about the use of Protothreads
- Protothread library requiring GCC, includes a thread scheduler modeled on the UNIX kernel (a simplified form of POSIX condition variables)
- Eigenclass[dead link] performed a comparison of protothreads against POSIX threads, and found a 400x improvement in speed 
- C++ Protothread
- Symbian C++ Protothread Implementation[dead link]
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