More on GC Spinlocks

dsimcha dsimcha at
Sat Dec 6 12:31:34 PST 2008

A few days ago, I commented that I thought that maybe the GC should be using
spinlocks, given how little time a typical allocation takes compared to
context switches, etc.  I've created a version of the D 2.21 druntime GC with
spinlocks instead of synchronized, and created the following simple benchmark
to just generate a ton of contention for the GC:

import core.thread, core.memory, std.perf, std.stdio, std.c.time, std.c.stdio;

void main() {
    readln;  //Allow for affinity to be changed.
    auto T = new Thread(&foo);
    scope auto pc = new PerformanceCounter;

void foo() {
   foreach(i; 0..10_000_000) {
       auto foo = GC.malloc(8);;

Here are the times:

Using both of my CPU cores, meaning serious contention, in milliseconds:

Spinlock:  10006
Synchronized:  28563

The synchronized version uses ~25-30% CPU, because of OS rescheduling, while
the spinlock version uses 100%.

Setting the affinity to only one CPU to simulate a single-CPU environment:

Spinlock:  4356
Synchronized:  4758

Replacing one thread's foo() by a dummy function so that the lock is never
even contested:

Spinlock:  1876
Synchronized:  2589

I will acknowledge that this is an extremely simple benchmark, but I think
it's reasonably representative of a severely contested memory allocation lock.
 The spinlock I used was the simplest possible atomic CAS lock, nothing fancy.

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