Stable name allocation

David Feuer david.feuer at
Wed Sep 26 15:54:40 UTC 2018

Simon seems a bit busy right now. Can anyone else advise me on the
basics of heap allocation in primops?

On Tue, Sep 25, 2018 at 1:42 PM, David Feuer <david.feuer at> wrote:
> Let's forget about allocate(). I can definitely handle this part in
> C--. But I'm still lost in the macros and such. For example, I'm very
> unclear on the differences among the ALLOC, HP_CHK, and MAYBE_GC
> classes of macro. I can't find anything in the commentary, and the
> source code documentation is very sparse. I'm okay with either of the
> following approaches, but either way I need a bit more info.
> 1. First see if we need to allocate a StableName#. If so, check
> whether GC would be required to allocate the StableName# (how?). If
> so, drop the lock, run GC (how?) and start over. This looks cleanest
> to me if it can be done easily.
> 2. First run the GC if we're low on memory (how?). Then if we need to
> allocate a StableName#, we'll be sure to have room.
> On Tue, Sep 25, 2018 at 6:25 AM, Simon Marlow <marlowsd at> wrote:
>> You can do it unconditionally before taking the lock, or you can do it
>> conditionally as long as you release the lock if the heap check fails. I
>> think in the latter case there might not be a macro that allows this, but
>> you could use the `allocate()` method for allocating memory (like
>> newByteArray#) and then you could write a heap check like the MAYBE_GC()
>> macro. Doing it unconditionally is easier and probably not a big performance
>> hit, but note that you'll have to retreat Hp if you don't use the memory.
>> Cheers
>> Simon
>> On Sat, 22 Sep 2018 at 13:08, David Feuer <david.feuer at> wrote:
>>> How do I check if GC will be required, and how do I trigger it? Should I
>>> perform the check unconditionally at the beginning of the operation so I
>>> don't have to drop the lock, GC, then retake? I don't know the right ways to
>>> deal with this stuff, and the macros are mostly undocumented.
>>> On Sep 22, 2018 3:53 AM, "Simon Marlow" <marlowsd at> wrote:
>>> Yes, the current implementation looks like it creates the object after
>>> adding the entry to the StableName table and releasing the lock, which is
>>> unsafe because another thread could read that same entry before the object
>>> has been created.  The easiest solution to that is to take and release the
>>> lock in C-- in the right places instead of in the C lookupStableName()
>>> function (you might need to make a separate version of lookupStableName()
>>> that doesn't take the lock).
>>> Cheers
>>> Simon
>>> On Fri, 21 Sep 2018 at 12:53, David Feuer <david.feuer at> wrote:
>>>> It seems awkward to do it in C--, but maybe you can help me work out how.
>>>> The allocation facilities definitely seem much nicer there, and allocating a
>>>> small heap object in C feels like an abuse of the facilities we have there.
>>>> The essential challenge, as I see it, is that we need the key to point to a
>>>> valid stable name object by the time we drop the hash table lock. The
>>>> process, as I imagine it:
>>>> 1. Follow indirections, untag, choose the right generation. (All this is
>>>> in C)
>>>> 2. Take the appropriate hash table lock. (C)
>>>> 3. Look up the key in the hash table (C).
>>>> Now there's a branch. If we found the key, then we don't need to allocate
>>>> an SNO. We just drop the lock and return. Otherwise
>>>> 4. Allocate an SNO and set its info pointer (most easily done in C--). If
>>>> this necessitates GC, we need to drop the lock first and might as well just
>>>> go back to the very beginning afterwards.
>>>> 5. Populate the SNO with its "hash value" (we can do this anywhere we
>>>> like, I imagine).
>>>> 6. Insert the key and SNO into the hash table and drop the hash table
>>>> lock (C)
>>>> 7. If necessary, insert the SNO into the remembered set (C)
>>>> How would you recommend structuring this back-and-forth?
>>>> On Fri, Sep 21, 2018, 3:19 AM Simon Marlow <marlowsd at> wrote:
>>>>> I'm a bit sceptical that you need to allocate a heap object in C instead
>>>>> of C--, but still, here's an example:
>>>>> It's slightly less efficient to do this in C than C--, because
>>>>> `allocate()` is slower than allocating by bumping `Hp`.
>>>>> On Mon, 17 Sep 2018 at 21:25, David Feuer <david.feuer at> wrote:
>>>>>> How can I allocate a heap object in C code in the rts? I've only seen
>>>>>> heap objects allocated in C--, and doing that here would be lousy for
>>>>>> performance and worse for clarity.
>>>>>> David

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