A thread-safe memory allocator based on Buddy Memory Allocation Alogirithm
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A thread-safe memory allocator based on Buddy Memory Allocation Alogirithm

Design Overview

The functions provided with this implementation include:

void *malloc(size_t size);
void free(void *ptr);
void *calloc(size_t nmemb, size_t size);
void *realloc(void *ptr, size_t size);
struct mallinfo mallinfo();
void malloc_stats();

Functions malloc(), mallinfo(), malloc_stats() and data structures required by these functions are declared in malloc.h and defined in malloc.c. malloc.h also houses blocks which is an array of Block * (read block.h for more). blocks is responsible for maintaining the free blocks. Per thread arenas are maintained by giving individual copies of blocks to each thread. The memory required to create free nodes is obtained using sbrk and the starting address of that is stored in heap.

Functions free(), realloc() and calloc() can be found respectively in free.c, realloc.c and calloc.c.

freelist.c contains functions that are used to maintain the freelist. block.h and block.c define the structure for the blocks and provide some utility functions for blocks.

thread-test.c and test.c contain some tests for multi-threaded and single-threaded memory requests.


Memory is allocated using Buddy Allocation. A normal memory request to the malloc function roughly looks like this.

  • Check if heap is empty. If so, extend heap by calling sbrk.
  • Calculate the level for the given memory request. For example, a memory request for 200 bytes will be turned into 256 bytes since, all the blocks are in power of 2 in this allocation scheme.
  • Once we know the level, we check if there are any free blocks in blocks for that level.
    • If so, allocate the block and update the free list accordingly.
    • If not, we find the next largest free block in blocks and keep breaking it in two until we can satisfy the memory request.
    • If there are no blocks that can be broken down to satisfy the request, we ask for more heap space using the sbrk system call and satisfy the request.

Note that, the request made to the sbrk call is multiple of page size.

If the memory request is much bigger than the biggest block available, the memory is satisfied using mmap system call.

Building and Testing

You can issue the command make check to test the implementation, which will build libmalloc.so shared object and run thread-test.c with it.