# <memory_resource> for libc++

Since approximately the week before C++Now, I’ve been working on a hobby project to get the C++17 <memory_resource> header implemented in libc++. Yes, it’s kind of silly and unfortunate that implementing a major standard feature of C++17 is happening in 2018 as a hobby project, but, so it goes. Here are my notes on the subject.

## Semantics of <memory_resource>

There are approximately three standards governing memory_resource-like things:

• ISO/IEC TS 19568:2015 “Library Fundamentals v1”, published 2015-09-30. Defines a header called <experimental/memory_resource>, containing memory_resource, polymorphic_allocator, the three concrete subclasses of memory_resource, resource_adaptor, and erased_type (all in namespace std::experimental).

• ISO/IEC TS 19568:2017 “Library Fundamentals v2”, published 2017-03-30. Defines a header called <experimental/memory_resource>, containing memory_resource, polymorphic_allocator, the three concrete subclasses of memory_resource, resource_adaptor, and erased_type (all in namespace std::experimental).

• ISO/IEC 14882:2017 “Programming Language C++”, published 2017-03-21. Defines a header called <memory_resource>, containing memory_resource, polymorphic_allocator, and the three concrete subclasses of memory_resource (in namespace std).

The links above go to the final public drafts of each standard. The actually official documents are available only if you pay ISO; but there are no significant differences between the final drafts and the official documents as far as I know.

Technically, erased_type is defined in <experimental/utility>, not <experimental/memory_resource>, but its only use as far as I know is in uses-allocator construction; it is pretty fundamentally tied up with the LFTS allocator model, if not pmr per se.

## Status of <memory_resource> by vendor

• As of this writing, libc++ has a header called <experimental/memory_resource>, containing memory_resource, polymorphic_allocator, resource_adaptor, and erased_type. libc++ does not have the three concrete subclasses of memory_resource. libc++ does not have any header named <memory_resource>.

• As of this writing, libstdc++ has a header called <experimental/memory_resource>, containing memory_resource, polymorphic_allocator, resource_adaptor, and erased_type. libstdc++ does not have the three concrete subclasses of memory_resource. libstdc++ does not have any header named <memory_resource>.

• As of this writing, Visual Studio 2017 has no header named either <experimental/memory_resource> or <memory_resource>. (EDIT: I have been informed that the version on Godbolt is out of date, and in fact <memory_resource> arrived in VS 2017 15.6, released in March 2018.)

• Boost.Container 1.67 supports all of the LFTSv2 version (as far as I can tell), in a collection of header files under <boost/container/pmr/xxxxx.hpp>.

As far as I can tell, Boost.Container 1.67 implements the resolution to LWG 2969 (and the follow-up LWG 3113 filed by me). As of 2018-05-28, libc++ also does. As of this writing, libstdc++ does not.

Finally:

## My series of libc++ patches

Originally, the goal of my hobby project was to provide a complete implementation of C++17 <memory_resource> without touching the existing <experimental/memory_resource> at all. (That header is moribund; we have already seen libc++ remove <experimental/optional> on the grounds that anyone who needs optional ought to be using libc++’s brand-new <optional> implementation, which naturally is not available in C++14-and-earlier. Anyone “stuck” on C++14 had better switch to Boost.Optional.) But Eric Fiselier convinced me that the better approach was to make a series of incremental patches to <experimental/memory_resource> until it fully implemented not LFTSv2 but actually a superset of C++17 (notably including the resolution to LWG 2969), and only then, copy a subset of the new and improved <experimental/memory_resource> into a new C++17-compatible <memory_resource>.

As of this writing (2018-06-05), I’ve got the following six patches lined up:

D47111 and D47358 could use a lot more eyeballs than just mine and Eric’s.

## Data size optimizations

One of Eric’s pieces of feedback on my initial implementation of {un,}synchronized_pool_resource was that the C++17 definition of std::pmr::pool_options is surprisingly wasteful of space.

struct pool_options {
size_t max_blocks_per_chunk = 0;
size_t largest_required_pool_block = 0;
};


Never mind that these two parameters are virtually irrelevant to the actual behavior of a pool resource (you’d really want to know things like “what are all the different block sizes you’re likely to see” and “what is the maximum size/alignment supported by your upstream resource”). The significant thing about them in this context is that they’re quantities with far fewer than 32 bits of entropy, but they’re stored in fields of size 64 bits. So where a naïve implementation would have something like

class unsynchronized_pool_resource : public memory_resource {
pool_options __options_;
public:
explicit unsynchronized_pool_resource(pool_options __opts) :
__options_(__opts)
{}
pool_options options() const { return __options_; }
};


my implementation after one round of code review actually looked more like this:

class unsynchronized_pool_resource : public memory_resource {
int __max_blocks_per_chunk_;
int __largest_required_pool_block_;
public:
explicit unsynchronized_pool_resource(pool_options __opts) :
__max_blocks_per_chunk_(CLAMP(__opts.max_blocks_per_chunk)),
__largest_required_pool_block_(CLAMP(__opts.largest_required_pool_block))
{}
pool_options options() const {
return pool_options{
__max_blocks_per_chunk_,
__largest_required_pool_block_,
};
}
};


It’s more code, but it’s a significantly smaller memory footprint.

Now, do we really care how big an unsynchronized_pool_resource is, given how few of them we have in the program? Possibly not. But it’s probably good practice not to deliberately waste space, especially for monotonic_buffer_resource, of which a program might contain dozens or even hundreds of simultaneous instances spread out across the whole call stack.

For reference, here are the sizes of memory_resource’s concrete subclasses on each of the major implementations listed above (assuming a typical 64-bit system, and further assuming that pthread_mutex_t is 40 bytes):

monotonic unsync sync
Bloomberg BDE 616? 56? 112?
Boost.Container 48 72 80
mine (naïve) 64 56 104
mine (current) 56 40 88

(I didn’t try compiling BDL to find out how big its types were; I just counted the fields by hand. The question marks reflect my uncertainty in re my skill at counting.)

## How my monotonic_buffer_resource loses on data size

Boost.Container’s monotonic_buffer_resource looks like this:

class monotonic_buffer_resource {
// vptr at offset 0
struct block_slist {
slist_node *next_;
memory_resource& upstream_;
} memory_blocks_;
void *current_buffer_;
size_t current_buffer_size_;
size_t next_buffer_size_;
};


Mine looks like this:

class monotonic_buffer_resource {
// vptr at offset 0
char *start_;
char *cur_;
char *end_;
} initial_;
memory_resource *upstream_;
size_t next_buffer_size_;
};


The only real difference is that my version spends an extra 8 bytes to store the original pointer to the “initial buffer” passed as an argument to the constructor. This means that when you call release() on the resource, my version can roll back to the beginning of the buffer and reuse it; whereas Boost.Container’s version simply drops the original buffer on the floor.

We can observe that release() causes Boost.Container to forget the initial buffer:

int main() {
using namespace boost::container::pmr;
char data[1000];
monotonic_buffer_resource mr(data, 1000);
mr.release();
mr.allocate(10);  // causes heap allocation
}


In my version, calling mr.release() on the resource actually resets the pointer to the beginning of the buffer, allowing you to reuse the same resource (and the same buffer) multiple times. I think this feature is worth the extra 8 bytes of memory footprint.

(EDIT: Ion Gaztañaga, the maintainer of Boost.Container, agrees with my analysis; although he’s not sure which one of us has the right behavior. He points out that C++17 requires mr.release() to “release all allocated memory”, and doesn’t say anything about what to do with the non-allocated memory from the original buffer. If we read the standard’s silence literally, as a requirement not to reuse the original buffer, then Boost.Container’s behavior is conforming and my implementation’s behavior is non-conforming.)

## How my synchronized_pool_resource loses on data size

Boost.Container’s synchronized_pool_resource looks like this:

class synchronized_pool_resource {
// vptr at offset 0
void *opaque_sync_;
unsynchronized_pool_resource unsync_;
};


Mine looks like this:

class synchronized_pool_resource {
// vptr at offset 0
std::mutex mutex_;
unsynchronized_pool_resource unsync_;
};


I don’t actually understand what Boost.Container is doing with that void*. Naïvely, it looks like they’ve got a race condition if two threads try to call do_allocate at the same time:

boost::container::pmr::synchronized_pool_resource mr;
mr.allocate(1);
});
mr.allocate(1);
});


This seems to result in two calls to boost_cont_sync_create, which is fine, but then both threads attempt to assign into opaque_sync_ with no synchronization as far as I can tell.

And, orthogonally, it looks like boost_cont_sync_create() calls malloc, which seems a little bit sketchy for something that calls itself a memory resource. :)

I’m sure I’m misunderstanding something about the design of Boost.Container’s synchronized_pool_resource here. But for now, I don’t feel too bad about the 40-byte overhead my version gets from std::mutex.

(EDIT: Ion Gaztañaga, the maintainer of Boost.Container, confirms that my analysis of the data race is correct, and has made a note to fix it somehow in a later release. Mantra: When you roll your own multithreading code, you get bugs. This applies not only to beginners but also to experts.)

Notice that synchronized_pool_resource contains a mutex, which means that <memory_resource> effectively must include <mutex>.

Simultaneously, pmr has infected pretty much every header in C++17, because for example <vector> is required to include a definition of std::pmr::vector<T>, which depends on polymorphic_allocator<T>.

Naïvely, this means that <vector> must include <memory_resource> must include <mutex>; which is insane.

In practice, what we do is to split up <memory_resource> into two pieces: <__memory_resource_base> has only the definitions for polymorphic_allocator and memory_resource, and then <memory_resource> is the heavyweight one that pulls in <mutex> and defines class synchronized_pool_resource. Container headers such as <vector> (which don’t care about synchronized_pool_resource) can get away with including only the relatively lightweight <__memory_resource_base>.

Because of trivia related to uses-allocator construction, polymorphic_allocator must know about pair and tuple, which means that even <__memory_resource_base> must effectively include <tuple>. So again we split up the heavy header, so that <__memory_resource_base> (which needs a forward-declaration of tuple but doesn’t care about the definition) includes only the relatively lightweight <__tuple>. (EDIT: Oops! As of this writing, polymorphic_allocator::construct actually does need the definition of tuple. This could be fixed with some heavy surgery.)

Niall Douglas has some data on the weight of the headers in various STL implementations here. Notice that as of this writing, both <mutex> and <tuple> are heavier than a lot of the container headers; making the latter depend on the former would be a non-starter, I hope.