[TUHS] Memory management in Dennis Ritchie's C Compiler

Jim Geist velocityboy at gmail.com
Tue Aug 18 05:08:48 AEST 2020

When did mmap(2) come about? Another thing I've seen is building a small
block allocator on top of that. You can guarantee that all your objects are
nicely collected into the same set of pages for locality with very little

On Mon, Aug 17, 2020 at 2:48 PM Paul Winalski <paul.winalski at gmail.com>

> On 8/17/20, Jim Geist <velocityboy at gmail.com> wrote:
> > You beat me to my response. malloc/free are great for long running
> > processes where memory can't just infinitely increase, but there's a ton
> of
> > stuff in a compiler -- types, expressions, symbols -- that survives until
> > the process exits. There's benefit in both space (because you don't have
> to
> > add headers to the blocks as malloc() does, so free() can work) and time
> to
> > doing it this way.
> >
> The other issue is locality of reference.  Data structures such as the
> symbol table get built up gradually as the compilation processes each
> routine.  Typically the symbol table is stored as a hash table where
> each entry is a pointer to the actual symbol table entry data
> structure.  If you malloc() each symbol table entry individually, they
> can end up scattered all over the virtual address space.  It's not as
> important these days, when main memory is measured in gigabytes, but
> back when machines had less real memory, the scattering could lead to
> excessive page faulting.  Much better to allocate symbol table entries
> in chunks, and the easiest way to do that is to give the symbol table
> its own mini-heap.
> VMS implemented the mini-heap concept (VMS calls them zones) back in
> its first release in 1978.  Dave Cutler took the concept to Windows NT
> (Microsoft calls them private heaps).  Lots of applications have built
> their own mini-heap system on top of sbrk(), but has a library of
> mini-heap-type APIs ever been distributed on Unix?
> -Paul W.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://minnie.tuhs.org/pipermail/tuhs/attachments/20200817/51a4df2e/attachment.htm>

More information about the TUHS mailing list