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Compare Performance and Complexity of Software Interpreters of a Virtual Machine

Sample programs for comparison of different VM interpretation techniques. See the Makefile for the full list of targets.

  • switched - switched interpreter
  • threaded - threaded interpreter
  • predecoded - switched interpreter with preliminary decoding phase
  • subroutined - subroutined interpreter
  • threaded-cached - threaded interpreter with pre-decoding.
  • tailrecursive - subroutined interpreter with tail-call optimization
  • translated - binary translator to Intel 64 machine code
  • native - a static implementation of the test program in C


Just type make. For Visual Studio builds, open corresponding project or solution files.

Use make sanity to perform a quick check of all variants.

Measure performance

Use ./ to measure run time of individual binaries or to perform a comparison of all techniques (alternatively, run make all measure).

The graph plotting part of the script uses Gnuplot and AWK.

Supported Environments

  • Tested to compile and run with GCC 4.8.1, GCC 5.1.0 and ICC 15.0.3 on Ubuntu Linux 12.04.5. Limited testing was also done on Windows 8.1 Cygwin64 environment, GCC 4.8.
  • Limited support for Visual Studio builds is provided. Certain types of interpreters will not build because of the CL compiler limitations or source code dependencies on GCC language extensions.


An article discussing structure, performance variations, and comparison of interpreters: (in Russian).


Sample programs for comparison of different VM interpretation techniques




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