[tbb-dev] Memory Allocator #10281 write-up

Georg Koppen gk at torproject.org
Mon Nov 2 13:49:25 UTC 2015


thanks for the great write-up! I looked a bit around and asked people to
fill at least some of the gaps/answer some of your questions.

Tom Ritter:
> Firefox has a feature where you can build a memory allocator library
> and shim it into Firefox - this is called building a memory
> replacement library. It requires an additional build-time
> configuration option.
> Our first investigation was with PartitionAlloc being built as a
> memory replacement library. This mostly worked, except we could not
> replicate the implementation of memalign, which required editing the
> core internals of PartitionAlloc.  It's also important to note that
> our use of PartitionAlloc did not actually partition the allocations
> based on any intelligent design. This is an ongoing problem.
> Currently, when Firefox performs an allocation, it will snake its way
> through the layers of abstraction until it arrives at our replacement
> library. The only information that has been passed into our
> replacement library is the size of the allocation. We do not have any
> context about what the allocation is for, and therefore which
> partition we would like to place it in.  (We theorized about walking
> the call stack in assembly and binning allocation based on that but
> this was an untested idea.)
> The work with PartitionAlloc paused.
> After some time, Firefox began investigating partitioning allocations
> using jemalloc3's partitioning capabilities. jemalloc3 is a new
> version of the currently used allocator, jemalloc. Mozilla's migration
> process is first to move to jemalloc3, and then to start partitioning
> allocations. Currently, their move to jemalloc3 is paused because
> <actually I'm not entirely sure why. I think "performance" and
> "mobile".>

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1201802 is the tracking bug
and looking at the child tickets, yes, performance is one issue.

> However the code for jemalloc3 is present, and making use of it is
> only a configuration change away. jemalloc3 solves one of the problems
> of PartitionAlloc - the allocator actually, completely works. Mostly.
> There is at least one issue which I believe is <an outstanding bug in
> jemalloc causing mismatched VirtualAlloc/Free calls - but this may be
> fixed now>. We did some performance comparisons of jemalloc vs

Yes, it is and it is on mozilla-central and on mozilla-aurora, see:

> jemalloc3 and it was reasonable: http://imgur.com/a/A6TV9
> To actually partition allocations we can implement a replace library
> that makes use of jemalloc3's partitioning capabilities. But we run
> into the same problem as before - we don't have any context to know
> what partition to put an allocation into.
> One thought was that we could use memory tags, but after
> investigation, that did not seem feasible.  We _can_ go through the
> Firefox codebase and change the allocation call to include an arena
> constant, but this patch will be difficult to maintain, we are likely
> to miss some allocation situations, and eventually Mozilla will do
> this themselves.
> References:
> https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tbb-dev/2015-May/000269.html
> was my most-recent message on this topic.
> It references a github issue that is now closed.  The patch referenced
> below should not be needed if this patch solves Mozilla's issue.  Does
> it? Was jemalloc's fix merged? Questions I don't know the answer to.

I think so, yes, the fix is in Mozilla's jemalloc.

> https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tbb-dev/2015-May/000272.html
> Was my followup.
> Future Directions and Open Questions:
> - Do we have a clear picture on why mozilla isn't shipping jemalloc3?
> - Is the jemalloc3 code in ESR38 considered bug-free, or did the known
> github issue not get patched in it?

The Github issue (#213) is not fixed in ESR 38.

> - Is there concern over switching TBB's allocator over to jemalloc3?
> - Is there concern over enabling the replace-malloc switch in TBB?
> - If both of those are done, any TBB distribution can, at start-time,
> choose to use a randomizing allocator in the form of a replacement
> library. The beginnings of one is attached. The library does not need
> to be used by default, but can be included in every install.

It depends on what you mean with "concern" I guess. Doing this is very
likely "nightly territory" first but from my point of view I'd start
rather sooner than later playing with it and assume it ould be a good
thing to try out in our hardened builds first (after it surviced soe
nightly testing).


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