[Haskell-cafe] Allocating enormous amounts of memory and wondering why

Stefan O'Rear stefanor at cox.net
Sun Jul 8 17:37:02 EDT 2007

On Sun, Jul 08, 2007 at 05:26:18PM -0400, Jefferson Heard wrote:
> I'm using the Data.AltBinary package to read in a list of 4.8 million
> floats and 1.6 million ints.  Doing so caused the memory footprint to
> blow up to more than 2gb, which on my laptop simply causes the program
> to crash.  I can do it on my workstation, but I'd really rather not,
> because I want my program to be fairly portable.  
> The file that I wrote out in packing the data structure was only 28MB,
> so I assume I'm just using the wrong data structure, or I'm using full
> laziness somewhere I shouldn't be.
> I've tried compiling with profiling enabled, but I wasn't able to,
> because the Streams package doesn't seem to have an option for compiling
> with profiling.  I'm also a newbie to Cabal, so I'm probably just
> missing something.  
> The fundamental question, though is "Is there something wrong with how I
> wrote the following function?"
> binaryLoadDocumentCoordinates :: String -> IO (Ptr CFloat, [Int])
> binaryLoadDocumentCoordinates path = do
>   pointsH <- openBinaryFile (path ++ "/Clusters.bin") ReadMode
>   coordinates <- get pointsH :: IO [Float]
>   galaxies <- get pointsH :: IO [Int]
>   coordinatesArr <- mallocArray (length coordinates)
>   pokeArray coordinatesArr (map (fromRational . toRational) coordinates)
>   return (coordinatesArr, galaxies)
> I suppose in a pinch I could write a C function that serializes the
> data, but I'd really rather not.  What I'm trying to do is load a bunch
> of coordinates into a vertex array for OpenGL.  I did this for a small
> 30,000 item vertex array, but I need to be able to handle several
> million vertices in the end.  
> If I serialize an unboxed array instead of a list or if I do repeated
> "put_" and "get" calls, will that help with the memory problem?

Why are you using AltBinary instead of the (much newer and faster)
Binary?  Binary *does* work with profiling and does not depend on

(To compile Binary with profiling support, add -p to the Cabal
configuration line.  This is documented in the --help message!)

Yes, using unboxed arrays will help.  Also try using the -c RTS option
(that is, run your program as ./myprogram +RTS -c -RTS) - this tells the
garbage collector to use a mark-compact system, which is slower than the
default copying collector but uses roughly half as much memory.


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