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Re: the source of slow large for loops

On May 7,  7:00pm, Mikael Magnusson wrote:
} Subject: the source of slow large for loops
} I don't know if anyone looked into why things like
} for i in {1..700000}; do true; done
} is extremely slow in zsh, so I did now. Turns out zhalloc is extremely
} slow

Hmm ... I think you've misdiagnosed.  zhalloc() is reasonably fast.
What's amazingly slow is freeheap().  If I stick a "return;" at the
top of freeheap() the above loop runs in just over 4 seconds on my
3GHz P4.  (AFAICT the memory is still eventually freed by popheap(),
it just grows a lot more before releasing any.)

} and for the above loop, one particular line runs 12049901132
} times according to gcov.

It would have been nice if you'd told us which line. :-)  However, I
don't think that's actually the problem.  There are a couple of places
where zhalloc() and friends search the heap for free space by doing a
linear scan over a linked list, which will cause a huge number of loop
iterations, but each of those iterations is at most a couple of machine
instructions.  You need to look at how much time something takes, not
just how often it's done.

The real time sink is this bit of freeheap():

    for (h = heaps; h; h = hn) {
	hn = h->next;
	if (h->sp) {
	    memset(arena(h) + h->sp->used, 0xff, h->used - h->sp->used);
	    h->used = h->sp->used;
	    if (!fheap && h->used < ARENA_SIZEOF(h))
		fheap = h;
	    hl = h;
	} else {
#ifdef USE_MMAP
	    munmap((void *) h, h->size);
	    zfree(h, HEAPSIZE);

Of course if you've used --enable-zsh-mem-debug for configure then this
is also zeroing all the memory on each free and the performance is even
worse, but that isn't really the issue.

Most specifically, take out the stuff inside "if (h->sp)" and the above
700k-iterations loop runs in 11 seconds.

If I understand what's going on here ...

Index: Src/mem.c
RCS file: /extra/cvsroot/zsh/zsh-4.0/Src/mem.c,v
retrieving revision 1.10
diff -c -r1.10 mem.c
--- Src/mem.c	4 Nov 2008 04:47:53 -0000	1.10
+++ Src/mem.c	7 May 2011 19:06:23 -0000
@@ -220,8 +220,28 @@
+    /* At this point we used to do:
     fheap = NULL;
-    for (h = heaps; h; h = hn) {
+     *
+     * When pushheap() is called, it sweeps over the entire heaps list of
+     * arenas and marks every one of them with the amount of free space in
+     * that arena at that moment.  zhalloc() is then allowed to grab bits
+     * out of any of those arenas that have free space.
+     *
+     * With the above reset of fheap, the loop below sweeps back over the
+     * entire heap list again, resetting the free space in every arena to
+     * the amount stashed by pushheap() and finding the first arena with
+     * free space to optimize zhalloc()'s next search.  When there's a lot
+     * of stuff already on the heap, this is an enormous amount of work,
+     * and peformance goes to hell.
+     *
+     * However, there doesn't seem to be any reason to reset fheap before
+     * beginning this loop.  Either it's already correct, or it has never
+     * been set and this loop will do it, or it'll be reset from scratch
+     * on the next popheap().  So all that's needed here is to pick up
+     * the scan wherever the last pass [or the last popheap()] left off.
+     */
+    for (h = (fheap ? fheap : heaps); h; h = hn) {
 	hn = h->next;
 	if (h->sp) {
@@ -242,7 +262,7 @@
     if (hl)
 	hl->next = NULL;
-	heaps = NULL;
+	heaps = fheap = NULL;


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