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runtime: whole span reclaimer is expensive #11979
Objects larger than 32K are handled by a large object allocator (largeAlloc) because they fall outside the size classes for which there are span caches. Currently, in order to control heap growth, the large object allocator sweeps until it reclaims the number of pages being allocated before performing the allocation (mHeap_Alloc_m -> mHeap_ReclaimList). This path is also taken when growing the heap.
However, this process can be quite expensive. It first tries sweeping large object spans. If this succeeds, the process is fairly efficient; it may require looking at a large number of spans that don't have a free object, but it's not clear if it's possible to eliminate this linear constant. However, empirically, this often fails. This may simply be because earlier large allocations swept spans that were larger than they were allocating and they didn't keep track of this credit. In this case, it falls back to sweeping small object spans until it's able to free enough (potentially non-contiguous) pages that way. As a result of this, in the x/benchmarks garbage benchmark, the large object sweeper winds up sweeping ~30 times more bytes than it's trying to allocate.
I believe we can eliminate this entire mechanism if, during marking, the garbage collector also keeps a per span "super mark" that is set if any objects in the span are marked. At the point where we would set this, we already have the span and, assuming we're willing to dedicate a byte per span for this, it can be set with a blind (possibly even non-temporal) write. At the end of GC, after mark termination, we can immediately free these spans (both large object spans and small object spans with no reachable objects). It takes roughly 1ms per heap GB to walk the span list, so even assuming a little more overhead for adding free spans to span lists, it seems very likely this would take less time than we currently spend sweeping these spans. This is also trivially parallelizable, and we probably have to do this walk anyway (#11484). Additionally, this will reduce load on concurrent sweep and coalesce neighboring spans much earlier, making larger regions of memory available for large object allocation immediately.
The downside is that every mark must read the span mark, which admittedly
On Sat, Aug 1, 2015 at 12:38 PM, Austin Clements email@example.com
I think the performance of the blind write doesn't matter much (unless it adds significant per-object cost, which I highly doubt). The win is on the sweeping side.
There's even some literature on this approach, it turns out. "Effective Prefetch for Mark-Sweep Garbage Collection" by Garner, 2007 uses exactly this trick. Plus, I think this will be necessary if we want to move to sweep-free allocation because finding and freeing unmarked spans is one of the tasks of the sweeper that's hard to do efficiently otherwise.