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MQTT vs gRPC: What are the differences?

MQTT and gRPC are two different communication protocols used in various applications. Let's explore the key differences between MQTT and gRPC:

  1. Scalability: One of the key differences between MQTT and gRPC is their scalability. MQTT is designed to support a large number of connected clients, making it ideal for Internet of Things (IoT) scenarios where thousands or millions of devices need to communicate with a message broker. On the other hand, gRPC is more suitable for microservices architectures, where a smaller number of highly efficient and low-latency connections are required between services. It is designed to handle high-performance and high-throughput communication patterns.

  2. Data Representation: Another difference between MQTT and gRPC lies in their data representation. MQTT is a lightweight protocol that uses a binary format to send messages, which helps reduce the payload size and conserve bandwidth. It supports only a limited set of data types and message structures. In contrast, gRPC uses Protocol Buffers as its data representation format, which provides a more expressive and flexible way of defining message types and their structures. This allows for easier development and evolution of APIs.

  3. Message Delivery Guarantees: MQTT and gRPC also differ in their message delivery guarantees. MQTT provides different levels of Quality of Service (QoS) for message delivery, including At Most Once (QoS 0), At Least Once (QoS 1), and Exactly Once (QoS 2). These QoS levels allow the sender to choose the desired level of reliability and assurance for message delivery. On the other hand, gRPC uses a streaming approach, where requests and responses are sent over bidirectional streams or channels. This enables more fine-grained control over message reliability and allows for efficient multiplexing of requests and responses.

  4. Communication Patterns: MQTT and gRPC support different communication patterns. MQTT follows a publish-subscribe model, where clients can publish messages to topics and subscribe to topics to receive messages. This pattern is suitable for scenarios where multiple clients need to receive the same information in real-time, such as IoT sensor data. In contrast, gRPC follows a request-response model, where clients send requests to servers and receive responses. This pattern is well-suited for client-server architectures and synchronous communication.

  5. Transport Layer: MQTT and gRPC use different transport layer protocols. MQTT typically runs over TCP/IP and can also be secured using TLS/SSL for encryption. This makes it compatible with a wide range of networking infrastructures. On the other hand, gRPC uses HTTP/2 as its transport layer protocol, which brings advantages like multiplexing, flow control, and header compression. HTTP/2 is widely supported by modern web browsers and server-side frameworks.

  6. Platform and Language Support: MQTT and gRPC also differ in terms of platform and language support. MQTT has extensive library support for various programming languages and can be used on different platforms, including embedded systems and mobile devices. Additionally, there are numerous MQTT brokers available that provide seamless integration with different ecosystems. In contrast, gRPC is more commonly used in the context of modern web application development and is well-supported by popular programming languages like Python, Go, Java, and C++. Its ecosystem includes tools and libraries that simplify service definition, code generation, and deployment.

In summary, MQTT is a lightweight, publish-subscribe messaging protocol widely used for efficient communication in the Internet of Things (IoT) and real-time applications, while gRPC is a high-performance Remote Procedure Call (RPC) framework designed for building efficient and interoperable services, commonly employed in microservices architectures.

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Pros of gRPC
Pros of MQTT
  • 24
    Higth performance
  • 15
    The future of API
  • 13
    Easy setup
  • 5
  • 4
  • 2
  • 3
    Varying levels of Quality of Service to fit a range of
  • 2
    Lightweight with a relatively small data footprint
  • 2
    Very easy to configure and use with open source tools

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Cons of gRPC
Cons of MQTT
    Be the first to leave a con
    • 1
      Easy to configure in an unsecure manner

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    - No public GitHub repository available -

    What is gRPC?

    gRPC is a modern open source high performance RPC framework that can run in any environment. It can efficiently connect services in and across data centers with pluggable support for load balancing, tracing, health checking...

    What is MQTT?

    It was designed as an extremely lightweight publish/subscribe messaging transport. It is useful for connections with remote locations where a small code footprint is required and/or network bandwidth is at a premium.

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    What are some alternatives to gRPC and MQTT?
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