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Optimizing memory footprint of bidi code

From: Eli Zaretskii
Subject: Optimizing memory footprint of bidi code
Date: Mon, 07 Jun 2010 10:30:56 -0400

In a recent bug report ("bug#6365: bidi data structure
inefficiencies") Dan Nicolaescu writes:

> Some bidi data structures are bigger that they need to be, this
> probably results in additional cache misses.
> Examples:
> struct bidi_saved_info could  use bitfields for the bidi_type_t members
> Same for bidi_stack
> bidi_it could use bitfields for a lot of it's members.

I see a couple of boolean flags that could indeed become one-bit

I see a bidi_dir_t enumeration that has only 3 possible values.  Can
we trust modern compilers to use the smallest integer type for
enumerations?  If so, this part is already taken care of.  If not, how
to make this type smaller without losing the benefits of an enumerated
type (I don't want to manipulate magic values or macros)?

The other members which could be converted to bitfields are small
integers, such as bidi_type_t (20 possible values) or stack_idx (up to
62).  While it would be possible to use 5 bits for the former and 6
bits for the latter, at the time this code was designed, 9 years ago,
there was a significant performance hit for manipulating bits on the
then popular architectures.  Or at least that's what I thought.  These
members use `int' deliberately, because I was (and still am) afraid of
the slow-down from replacing a simple increment of 2 integer variables
(in the unidirectional display engine) with the 1500-line reordering
code.  After all, this code runs in the innermost loops of Emacs
display engine, and it runs for each character we display in each

Maybe manipulating bitfields is no longer an issue with current
architectures and compiler technology.  Maybe this problem didn't
exist, except in my head, even back when I designed this.  But before
I change the code, I'd like to know for sure.  Because if it's still
more expensive today to extract bitfields, then it may be worth our
while to give up some memory for extra performance.  And if the
benefits from using bitfields are insignificant, perhaps it's not
worth the hassle to change the code for gaining a few hundred bytes.

Can someone "in the know" tell what is the current state of art in
these matters?  Failing that, can someone measure the differences and
publish the results?

A few more things we may wish to consider:

  . struct bidi_it weighs in at 712 bytes on a 64-bit machine.  Can
    this amount of memory cause more frequent cache misses, with
    today's cache sizes?

  . Out of 712 bytes, the level stack takes 512.  The Unicode Standard
    requires support for 62 levels (I will remove the extra 2 when I
    have time), but I have never seen more than 4 used in any
    real-life text.  I don't want to give up full compliance with
    UAX#9, and I don't want to allocate memory from the heap for each
    extra level.  But maybe starting with a 4-level stack and
    allocating the other 58 when the 5th is required will be a good
    enough optimization, leaving us with a 250-byte structure for all
    but the very extreme use-cases?

  . OTOH, the code on bidi.c consults a much larger char-table of
    bidirectional properties _for_each_character_it_processes_.  Given
    this, how significant is the impact of a few hundred bytes in
    struct bidi_it for causing a possible increase in cache misses?

Comments welcome.  I will add to my todo implementation of any
conclusions we will reach here (and encourage anyone with enough time
to beat me to it).

Thanks in advance.

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