[Vm-dev] free-chunk-management-in-the-cog-vm

Levente Uzonyi leves at caesar.elte.hu
Thu Jun 21 20:51:08 UTC 2018

Hi Eliot,

On Tue, 19 Jun 2018, Eliot Miranda wrote:

> To keep it simple.  The scheme really comes from the free lists.  There 
is either a 32 or a 64 element array with all the free chunks from size 1 
to 32 or 1 to 64.  So this gives fast allocation for the common case of a 
smallish object.  Then what to do with element 0?  A binary tree works 
well since it is populated only with larger chunks and, given that all 
chunks of the same size are, effectively, a single node in the tree, the 
tree typically isn't that large.  That and some very simple balancing 
hacks keep it from degenerating into a list whenever I've looked at its 
state (although we might investigate organizing it as an AVL tree; I like 
AVL trees but they're a lot of work for little gain if in practice a tree 
doesn't degenerate).

Well, random binary trees have ~1.39 x log(n) average height, so 
performance can be really good if the order the chunk sizes are added and 
removed do not unbalance the tree too much.

The reason I asked about this was that I couldn't figure out why the trees 
were said to be AVL trees. And I would have used a hash table with open 
addressing over an AVL tree, because that's fairly easy to implement and 
has good performance, while AVL trees take a lot more effort to implement.

> The use of 32 or 64 elements allows the use of a bitmask word to serve 
as a non-empty list cache, so that when the system looks for chunks bigger 
than needed (if a smaller list is empty) it is fast to check the list(s) 
at 2x, 3x, etc...
> A hash table needs heap space to organize and unlike the binary tree 
this space may need to grow if the number of free chunks is very large.

Based on your answers, I have got the impression that the performance of 
these data structures have negligible effect on the overall GC 
performance, so it's probably not worth to try to optimize them.


More information about the Vm-dev mailing list