Page boundaries, implementing memory pool

I have decided to reinvent the wheel for a millionth time and write my own memory pool. My only question is about page size boundaries.

Let's say GetSystemInfo() call tells me that the page size is 4096 bytes. Now, I want to preallocate a memory area of 1MB (could be smaller, or larger), and divide this area into 128 byte blocks. HeapAlloc()/VirtualAlloc() will have an overhead between 8 and 16 bytes I guess. Might be some more, I've read posts talking about 60 bytes.

Question is, do I need to pay attention to not to have one of my 128 byte blocks across page boundaries?

Do I simply allocate 1MB in one chunk and divide it into my block size?

Or should I allocate many blocks of, say, 4000 bytes (to take into account HeapAlloc() overhead), and sub-divide this 4000 bytes into 128 byte blocks (4000 / 128 = 31 blocks, 128 bytes each) and not use the remaining bytes at all (4000 - 31x128 = 32 bytes in this example)?

Answers


Having a block cross a page boundary isn't a huge deal. It just means that if you try to access that block and it's completely swapped out, you'll get two page faults instead of one. The more important thing to worry about is the alignment of the block.

If you're using your small block to hold a structure that contains native types longer than 1 byte, you'll want to align it, otherwise you face potentially abysmal performance that will outweigh any performance gains you may have made by pooling.

The Windows pooling function ExAllocatePool describes its behaviour as follows:

If NumberOfBytes is PAGE_SIZE or greater, a page-aligned buffer is allocated. Memory allocations of PAGE_SIZE or less do not cross page boundaries. Memory allocations of less than PAGE_SIZE are not necessarily page-aligned but are aligned to 8-byte boundaries in 32-bit systems and to 16-byte boundaries in 64-bit systems.

That's probably a reasonable model to follow.

I'm generally of the idea that larger is better when it comes to a pool. Within reason, of course, and depending on how you are going to use it. I don't see anything wrong with allocating 1 MB at a time (I've made pools that grow in 100 MB chunks). You want it to be worthwhile to have the pool in the first place. That is, have enough data in the same contiguous region of memory that you can take full advantage of cache locality.


I've found out that if I used _align_malloc(), I wouldn't need to worry wether spreading my sub-block to two pages would make any difference or not. An answer by Freddie to another thread (How to Allocate memory from a new virtual page in C?) also helped. Thanks Harry Johnston, I just wanted to use it as a memory pool object.


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