The backend process (mythbackend) is the portion of the system that handles the Video capture cards as well as Scheduling Recordings on those cards, Commercial Flagging, and transcoding. The backend process interacts with the Database primarily.
As with the MythFrontend, there can be multiple backends. One backend process is designated as the master backend. This is usually the first backend installed on a system. This backend is responsible for coordinating the activities of the other backends known as slaves. This is especially true for scheduling as the master backend will determine the best distribution of programs across all available tuners. Each backend can have any number of tuners, including zero. As of 0.16, Commercial Flagging can be distributed across different backends, thereby spreading the load of that process.
There is no requirement for direct user interaction with the backend. The backend can use local HardWare/File Storage or have it mounted from another system. If remotely mounted, network performance should be considered as there will be considerable traffic on the network as recordings are stored and retreived by the backend process.
The backend and frontend communicate using their own Myth Protocol. The developer of Win Myth, a windows frontend to MythTV for playing recordings on Windows, has documented his workings on the procotol here. Work on defining the Myth Protocol is also be performed on this Wiki.