A faster memory allocator - rpmalloc
We just released our new memory allocator, rpmalloc, to the public domain. It is designed to be faster than most popular memory allocators like tcmalloc, hoard, ptmalloc3 and others. We also believe the implementation to be easier to read and modify compared to these allocators, as it is a single source file of ~1300 lines of C code. And it is in the public domain - use it without any restrictions.
PerformanceContained in the repository is a benchmark utility that performs interleaved allocations (both aligned to 8 or 16 bytes, and unaligned) and deallocations (both in-thread and cross-thread) in multiple threads. It measures number of memory operations performed per CPU second, as well as memory overhead by comparing the virtual memory mapped with the number of bytes requested in allocation calls. The setup of number of thread, cross-thread deallocation rate and allocation size limits is configured by command line arguments.
Below is an example performance comparison chart of rpmalloc and other popular allocator implementations.
This example chart shows benchmarks results when running the benchmark suite on a 8-core Windows 10 machine (crt is the Microsoft standard c runtime malloc implementation).
Implementation detailsThe allocator is based on 64k alignment, where all runs of memory pages are mapped to 64KiB boundaries. On Windows this is automatically guaranteed by the VirtualAlloc granularity, and on mmap systems it is achieved by atomically incrementing the address where pages are mapped to. By aligning to 64KiB boundaries the free operation can locate the header of the memory block without having to do a table lookup (as tcmalloc does) by simply masking out the low 16 bits of the address.
Memory blocks are divided into three categories. Small blocks are [16, 2032] bytes, medium blocks (2032, 32720] bytes, and large blocks (32720, 2097120] bytes. The three categories are further divided in size classes.
Small blocks have a size class granularity of 16 bytes each in 127 buckets. Medium blocks have a granularity of 512 bytes, 60 buckets. Large blocks have a 64KiB granularity, 32 buckets. All allocations are fitted to these size class boundaries (an allocation of 34 bytes will allocate a block of 48 bytes). Each small and medium size class has an associated span (meaning a contiguous set of memory pages) configuration describing how many pages the size class will allocate each time the cache is empty and a new allocation is requested.
Spans for small and medium blocks are cached in four levels to avoid calls to map/unmap memory pages. The first level is a per thread single active span for each size class. The second level is a per thread list of partially free spans for each size class. The third level is a per thread list of free spans for each number of pages in the span configuration. The fourth level is a global list of free spans for each number of pages in the span configuration. Each cache level can be configured to control memory usage versus performance.
Each span for a small and medium size class keeps track of how many blocks are allocated/free, as well as a list of which blocks that are free for allocation. To avoid locks, each span is completely owned by the allocating thread, and all cross-thread deallocations will be deferred to the owner thread.
Large blocks, or super spans, are cached in two levels. The first level is a per thread list of free super spans. The second level is a global list of free super spans. Each cache level can be configured to control memory usage versus performance.