Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Achievement Unlocked: Use 100GB of memory in a single process

I discovered that the compiler I was using last night managed to run out of memory while compiling some code. This was on our research group's server which has a whopping 128GB of memory. And by "ran out of memory", I literally watched in top as clang went from dozens of megabytes of memory to 120GB of memory, evict everything from the cache and thrash swap like crazy before the out-of-memory killer decided it ought to go.

What was I doing? No, I wasn't linking the source code to the universe; I was merely compiling a file in the Spec 2006 benchmarks. And this wasn't anything large--only 3700 lines of code or so in a single C++ file. And the pass that wasn't dying wasn't some horribly written pass that leaked memory like a leaky bucket. Indeed, LLVM tends to get you to free memory too quickly, judging by how many times I've chased down memory corruption. If you don't believe me, the offending code was this:

    Code = CloneBasicBlock(CodeOrig, ValMap, "", F, NULL);
    for (II = Code->begin(), EE = Code->end(); II != EE; ++II) {
      if (!isa(II))
        RemapInstruction(II, ValMap, RF_IgnoreMissingEntries);

For those of you who don't know what the code is doing, it roughly amounts to this: make a copy of a basic block of a function, and then tell all of the instructions to use the new instructions instead. On some programs, though, this simple instruction seems to have compelled the code to eat up gigabytes of memory.

Fortunately, I am now proud to announce that I have reduced my memory consumption by 99%… with a one-line fix. So I guess I should get the achievement for "Fix the Memory Leak" as well?

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