"High water" Memory fragmentation still a thing?

Chris Angelico rosuav at gmail.com
Sat Oct 4 07:57:02 CEST 2014

On Sat, Oct 4, 2014 at 3:48 PM, Steven D'Aprano
<steve+comp.lang.python at pearwood.info> wrote:
> I think that you're conflating a couple of different issues, although I
> welcome correction.
> I don't think that removing the GIL is a requirement for a memory compactor,
> or vice versa. I think that PyPy is capable of plugging in various
> different garbage collectors, including some without the GIL, which may or
> may not include memory compactors. So as far as I can tell, the two are
> independent.
> As far as the GIL in CPython goes, there have been at least two attempts to
> remove it, and they do show strong improvements for multi-threaded code
> running on multi-core machines. Alas, they also show significant *slowdown*
> for single-core machines, and very little improvement on dual-core
> machines.

Not conflating, comparing. In both cases, it's perfectly possible *in
theory* to build a CPython with this change. (GIL removal is clearly
possible in theory, as it's been done in practice.) And *in theory*,
there's some benefit to be gained by doing so. But it's not a case of
"why doesn't python-dev just knuckle down and do it already", as
there's no evidence that it's a real improvement. (A "compile to
machine code" feature might well be purely beneficial, and that's
simply a matter of work - how much work, for how many CPU
architectures, to get how much benefit. But at least that's going to
have a fairly good expectation of performance improvement.) A memory
compactor might well help a narrow set of Python programs (namely,
those which allocate heaps and heaps of memory, then throw away most
of it, and keep running for a long time), but the complexity cost will
make it unlikely to be of benefit.


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