What's the Difference?

RMI (Remote Method Invocation) and RPC (Remote Procedure Call) are both communication protocols used in distributed systems to enable remote method invocation. However, there are some key differences between the two. RMI is a Java-specific protocol that allows objects to invoke methods on remote objects, providing a more object-oriented approach. On the other hand, RPC is a language-independent protocol that focuses on invoking procedures or functions on remote systems. While RMI provides a higher level of abstraction and supports complex data types, RPC is simpler and more lightweight, making it easier to implement in different programming languages. Overall, the choice between RMI and RPC depends on the specific requirements and constraints of the distributed system.


Communication ProtocolJava RMIVarious protocols (e.g., HTTP, TCP)
Language DependencyJavaLanguage-independent
Object InvocationMethod invocation on remote objectsProcedure call on remote servers
Parameter PassingPassing objects as parametersPassing primitive data types as parameters
Object SerializationAutomatic object serializationManual serialization required
Interface DefinitionJava InterfaceIDL (Interface Definition Language)
Exception HandlingJava Exception HandlingCustom exception handling
Dynamic InvocationDynamic method invocationStatic procedure call
SecurityJava Security ModelDepends on the underlying protocol

Further Detail


Remote Method Invocation (RMI) and Remote Procedure Call (RPC) are both mechanisms used in distributed computing to enable communication between different processes or systems. While they serve a similar purpose, there are distinct differences in their attributes and implementation. In this article, we will explore and compare the key attributes of RMI and RPC, highlighting their similarities and differences.

Definition and Purpose

RMI is a Java-based technology that allows objects residing in one JVM (Java Virtual Machine) to invoke methods on objects residing in another JVM, either on the same machine or over a network. It provides a way for distributed systems to communicate and collaborate seamlessly. On the other hand, RPC is a general communication protocol that enables a program on one computer to execute a procedure on a remote computer. It abstracts the details of the network communication and provides a simple and transparent way to invoke remote procedures.

Communication Model

RMI follows a distributed object model, where objects are passed as parameters and return values between the client and server. The client-side stub and server-side skeleton handle the marshaling and unmarshaling of objects, making the communication transparent to the programmer. In contrast, RPC follows a procedural model, where the client sends a request to the server, which executes the requested procedure and returns the result. The communication is typically based on a message-passing paradigm.

Language Support

RMI is tightly integrated with the Java programming language and is primarily used for Java-to-Java communication. It leverages Java's object serialization mechanism to transmit objects between the client and server. On the other hand, RPC is language-agnostic and can be used with various programming languages. It often relies on platform-independent data formats like XML or JSON for data serialization and deserialization.

Interface Definition

In RMI, the interface definition is done using Java's interface mechanism. The remote methods are declared in the interface, and the client and server implement the interface to provide the necessary functionality. The RMI framework generates the stub and skeleton code automatically based on the interface definition. In RPC, the interface definition is typically done using an Interface Definition Language (IDL), which provides a language-independent way to describe the remote procedures and their parameters. The IDL is then used to generate the client and server stubs in the respective programming languages.

Protocol and Transport

RMI uses Java's built-in protocols, such as JRMP (Java Remote Method Protocol) or IIOP (Internet Inter-ORB Protocol), for communication between the client and server. These protocols handle the low-level details of network communication, including object serialization, transport, and connection management. RPC, on the other hand, can use various protocols like HTTP, TCP, or UDP for communication. The choice of protocol depends on the specific requirements of the application. Additionally, RPC can utilize different transport mechanisms, such as sockets or message queues, to transmit the request and response messages.

Error Handling

In RMI, exceptions thrown by remote methods are automatically propagated to the client, allowing for easy error handling and recovery. RMI provides a transparent mechanism for handling exceptions across distributed systems. In RPC, error handling is typically done using error codes or status flags returned by the remote procedure. The client needs to explicitly check for errors and handle them accordingly. Error handling in RPC requires more manual intervention compared to RMI.


RMI provides built-in security mechanisms, such as Java's security manager and access control policies, to ensure secure communication between the client and server. It supports authentication, encryption, and authorization to protect against unauthorized access and data tampering. RPC, on the other hand, does not have built-in security features. It relies on external security measures like SSL/TLS for secure communication and authentication mechanisms like tokens or API keys to ensure authorized access.


RMI is known for its high performance and efficiency due to its tight integration with the Java language and JVM. It benefits from Java's Just-In-Time (JIT) compilation, garbage collection, and optimized object serialization. RPC, being language-agnostic, may have slightly lower performance compared to RMI due to the additional overhead of data serialization and deserialization using platform-independent formats like XML or JSON. However, the performance difference is often negligible and depends on the specific implementation and network conditions.


In summary, RMI and RPC are both widely used mechanisms for enabling communication between distributed systems. RMI, being Java-centric, provides seamless integration with the Java language and offers a distributed object model. RPC, on the other hand, is language-agnostic and follows a procedural model. While RMI provides built-in security and exceptional handling, RPC offers flexibility in protocol and transport choices. The choice between RMI and RPC depends on the specific requirements of the application, the programming language used, and the desired level of integration and performance.

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