Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Java Flame Graphs Introduction: Fire For Everyone!

FlameGraphs are superawesome. If you've never heard of FlameGraphs and want to dive straight in the deep end, you should run off and check out the many many good resources provided by Brendan Greg in his one stop shop page here. This post will give a quick intro and some samples to get you started with collecting profiles for all JVMs everywhere. I'm taking a slightly different tack then Brendan in presenting the topic, so if it turns out my explanations suck you should see if his make more sense.

What's the big deal?

If you've ever used a profiler to look at your code you will have seen 2 profile reports typically:
  1. Flat profile: This is often presented as the "top X" methods/classes/packages where time (or samples, or ticks or whatever) is spent. This is useful as it immediately shows up common bottlenecks across your code, but these are shown out of context. Sometimes this is enough, but often in larger application profiles context is significant. This representation is very useful when a method with a high overall impact is called from many callsites, making each callsite cheap but the method itself significant.
  2. Tree profile: This profile will present you with a call tree where each method is a node with a total and self time quantity. The self measure implies the amount of time spent in the method itself(the amout of samples in which the method is the leaf), and total is for the total number of samples in which it shows up (leaf and node).
The problem with the tree view is that it is very unpleasant to navigate. Click click click click and as the stack deepens it becomes harder to look at and ingest. Enter FlameGraphs.
FlameGraph represents a tree profile in a single interactive SVG where:
The x-axis shows the stack profile population, sorted alphabetically (it is not the passage of time), and the y-axis shows stack depth. Each rectangle represents a stack frame. The wider a frame is is, the more often it was present in the stacks. The top edge shows what is on-CPU, and beneath it is its ancestry.
Like most visualisations, it makes sense when you see it rather than explain it. Let start with data sets we can easily grasp and see what they look like.

Synthetic Samples For Starters

For instance, what does a single stack sample look like? The FlameGraphs SVG generating script takes as it's input a "collapsed stacks" file which has a dead simple format, frames separated by semi-colons followed by the number of times this stack was sampled. Here's a dummy handwritten example of a single sample file (call it sample.cstk):
main;0;1;2;3;4;5;6;7;8;9;10 1

We can feed this to the flames (now is a good time to clone this repo and try shit out):
flamegraph.pl single-stack.cstk > single-stack.svg

Here's what a single stack trace looks like:
Please Use modern Browser(e.g. recent chrome?) to see this SVG!

But a single stack trace is just one data point, not a profile. What if we had 1M samples of this same stack?
Please Use modern Browser(e.g. recent chrome?) to see this SVG!

Well.. it would look pretty much the same, but if you hover over it will tell you it got 1M samples. It looks the same because we still have 100% the same stack for the whole profile. It's the same profile.
"BUT!" I hear you say, "But, colours?". Yes the colors mean nothing at this point, but will become interesting later. The default colour palate is red and the choice of colors is random, hence the different colour selection changes from run to run. Just forget colors for a second, OK?
Right, next we want to look at a set of samples with a few more stacks:
main;0;1;2;3;4;5 1
main;0;1;2;3;4;5;6 2
main;0;1;2;3;4;5;6;7 3
main;0;1;2;3;4;5;6;7;8 4
main;0;1;2;3;4;5;6;7;8;9 5

Please Use modern Browser(e.g. recent chrome?) to see this SVG!

Now you can also get a feel for what clicking around does and how you zoom in and out.
By now I hope you get the picture for how a bunch of stacks and frequencies look with a simple data sets. Last synthtic example to look at has several root frames and a little more varied stacks. Lets try this:
main;a;1;2;3;4;5 1
main;c;1;2;3;4;5;6;7 4
main;a;1;2;3;4;5;6 2
main;c;1;2;3;4;5;6 4
main;c;1;2;3;4;5;6;8 4
main;b;1;2;3;4;5;6;7 3
main;b;1;2;3;4;5;6;8 3
main;b;1;2;3;4;5;6;9 3
main;d;1;2;3;4;5;6;7;8;9 5

And we get this:
Please Use modern Browser(e.g. recent chrome?) to see this SVG!

We see here that stacks are sorted alphabetically and ordered from left to right. The ordering has nothing to do with the order in the file. The collapsed stacks format is itself an aggregation with no view on timing. So the order from left to right is only about merging, not time or anything else. We can see that stacks which share a common parent naturally aggregate under that parent. The width of each frame is it's relative total-time share. It's self-time share is it's top exposure, or how much of it is not covered by it's callees, the frames on top of it.

Tree View vs Flames

Now that we got the hang of this flamy thing, lets take a look at the same profile using 2 presentations. The venerated tree-view and this new hipsterish whatever flame thing. The following is a profile collected using honest-profiler for a netty benchmark:

In typical workflow I step further and further into the hot stack, but this pushes out the big picture out of my view. I would now have to go back up and fold it to see what hides under other hot branches in the tree. It's a familiar and annoying experience if you've ever used a profiler with this kind of view. The problem is that Java class and method names are typically long, and stacks are quite deep. This is a simple application and I quickly run out of room.
Here's the FlameGraph for the same profile (I chose green, because later it makes sense):
Please Use modern Browser(e.g. recent chrome?) to see this SVG!

NOTE: I made all the flame graphs in this post narrow so they fit the layout. They don't have to be this narrow. You can set the width to whatever you like, I used "--width=700" for the graphs in this post.
We can see the root frames quickly break out to main activities, with the deep netty stack now visible upfront. We can click and zoom easily. I also find the search ability which colors matching strings useful to highlight class/package participation in the profile. Prominent flat-tops indicate hot leaf methods we might want to look at.
It's perhaps a matter of taste, but I love it. I've been using flame graphs for a while and they are pure genius IMO. I find the image itself is intuitively more approachable, and with the ability to quickly zoom in/out and search I can usually quickly work through a profile without losing sight of the full picture.
So how do you get one?

It's Bob! yay?

Everybody Gets A FlameGraph!

Yes, even you poor suckers running JDK 1.3 on Windows XP! I don't recommend this method of profiling if you have a more recent JVM, or if your JVM supports AsyncGetCallTrace, but if your deployment is stuck in the past you can still be in on this. This is because ALL JVMs must support JVMTI and AFAIK allow you to hit them with jstack/JVisualVM/hprof. It's a terrible way to profile, there's allot of overhead, and usually you can find a better way, but this is universally available. Collecting a sample via jstack is (a terrible idea) quite easy. Just find the pid of the process you want to profile using jps and then do something like:
for i in {1..100}; do
  jstack <pid> >> iloveoldshit.jstk;
  sleep 0.1;
And Bob is your relative (which is a good thing apparently).
Once you've collected a large enough sample for your application you can go on and feed flame graphs:
cat iloveoldshit.jstk | ./stackcollapse-jstack.pl | ./flamegraph.pl --color=green > jstack-flames.svg
And you get:
Please Use modern Browser(e.g. recent chrome?) to see this SVG!

This is the same benchmark from before, but different profile with the safepoint bias. You can compare the two by scrolling up and down. OR you can use FlameGraphs to diff the 2, in a moment.
FlameGraphs supports converting jstack output into collapsed stacks (as above). Efforts exist on GitHub to convert the hprof format which JVisualVM produces (as well as other profilers) into collapsed stack format.
So for all my poor readers, struggling under the oppression of JVMs for which better means to spill out stack samples do not exist, I got your backs, you too can be looking at flame graphs!
But seriously, just move on.

Level Up: AsyncGetCallTrace or JFR

Now, if you want a better profiler, which does not result in bringing your application to safepoint and pausing ALL your threads at each sample AND your are either running a 1.6 or higher JDK (OpenJDK/Oracle/recent Zing) on Linux/Mac/BSD you can use Honest-Profiler to collect your profile. If you got Oracle JDK 1.7u40 or higher you can use Java Flight Recorder (if you use it in production you need to pay for the licence). These profilers rely on AsyncGetCallTrace to record the Java stack safely on interrupt(from a signal handler, not at safepoint).
To collect with Honest-Profiler I start my JVM with the following parameter:
Then, when I feel the time is right, I can start and stop the profile collection
echo start | nc localhost 4242
echo stop | nc localhost 4242
To convert the binary format into collapsed stacks I need to use a helper class in the honest-profiler.jar:
java -cp $HONEST_PROFILER_HOME/honest-profiler.jar com.insightfullogic.honest_profiler.ports.console.FlameGraphDumperApplication netty.hpl netty.cstk
I can then feed the flamegraph script the collapsed stacks file and get the result which we've already seen.
To convert JFR recordings to flame graphs see this post. But remember children, you must pay Oracle if you use it in production, or Uncle Larry might come for you.

Bonus: Diff Profiles!

A nice benefit of having 2 different profilers produce (via some massaging) a unified format for flame graphs is that we can now diff profiles from 2 profilers. Not something that is generally useful, granted. But diffing profiles is an established capability in many profilers, and is usually used to do a before/after comparison. Flame Graphs support this via the same visualization. Once you have converted your profiles into the collapsed stacks format you can produce a diff file and graph it:
./difffolded.pl -n A.cstk B.cstk | ./flamegraph.pl > A-B-diff.svg
Diffing the Honest-Profiler and jstack profiles gives us the following:
Please Use modern Browser(e.g. recent chrome?) to see this SVG!  

The white squares are not interesting, the red/pink squares highlight the delta of self samples as a percentage of total samples (not so intuitive). I admit it may seem a tad confusing at first, but at least it draws your eyes to the right places. More on differential flame graphs here.
Note: to make this diff work I had to shave off the thread names from the jstack collected collapsed stacks file.

Further Bonus: Icicle Graph

Some times the bottleneck is not a particular call stack plateau, but rather a particular method being called from many call sites. This kind of bottleneck will not show well in a flame graph as the different stacks with similar tops will be split and may not stand out. This is really where a flat profile is great, but we can also flip the flame graph view to highlight the top method merging:
cat netty.cstk | ./flamegraph.pl --reverse --invert --color=green > netty-icicles.svg
I've filtered the stacks to show only a relevant portion:
Please Use modern Browser(e.g. recent chrome?) to see this SVG!
This is not dissimilar to functionality offered by other profiler GUIs which allow the drill down direction to start from hot methods and into their callers in a tree view presentation.

Level UP++: Java Perf Flame Graphs FTW!

If you are so fortunate as to:
  1. Be running OpenJDK/Oracle 1.8u60 or later(this functionality is coming to Zing in a near future release, fingers crossed)
  2. Running on Linux
  3. Got permissions to make this run
You can get amazing visibility into your system by using a combination of:
  1. Java with: -XX:+PreserveFramePointer (also recommended -XX:+UnlockDiagnosticVMOptions -XX:+DebugNonSafepoints so unfolded frame are more accurate)
  2. perf-map-agent:  This attachable agent dumps a symbol mapping file for all runtime generated code in the JVM, enabling perf to correctly resolve addresses to methods. You'll need to clone and build.
  3. perf: You'll need permissions and you'll need to install it. I assume you are root of you own machine for simplicity.
With the above working you can collect a perf profile of your Java process(by itself or as part of whole system). This results in a perf.data file and a perf-<pid>.map file in your /tmp folder. You can then proceed to generate a collapsed stack profile from that file, the simplest way to get this going is by using a script packed with perf-map-agent:
perf-java-flames <pid>
This will ask for password as it needs to sudo a few things. Be the sudo you want to see in the world. After a suspenseful wait of 15 seconds you'll get this:
Please Use modern Browser(e.g. recent chrome?) to see this SVG!
Note: Netty deploys it's native lib into tmp, loads it and deletes it, which means perf gets lost looking for it. I deleted it from the benchmarks jar and loaded it directly using LD_LIBRARY_PATH to resole this visibility issue. It doesn't make a huge difference, but in case you try this out.

The green frames are Java, and the rest are all the magic which happens to help Java along. Here's what happened:

  • Red frames are C library or Kernel code. We can see that the socket writes in the original profile actually go into native land. We now have further visibility down the hole. Importantly this illustrates where hot Java methods are in fact not Java methods at all and so looking at their Java code for optimisation ops is futile.
  • Yellow frames are C++. We can see the call chain leading into the interpreter and ultimately into compiled Java code.
  • Green frames are Java. BUT if you compare the previously presented profiles will this one you will notice there are some intermediate frames missing here. This is because the frames in this profile are "real" frames, or rather they map to stack frame. Inlined methods in Java do not have their own stack frames, so we can't see them (for now, we'll sort this out in a second). Further more, the keen observer will notice the familiar "Thread.run" bottom of the stack is missing, replaced by the "interpreter". As is often the case, the run method did not get compiled in this benchmark so it is not a proper compiled method for which we have a mapping. Methods in the interpreter are opaque in this profile.
  • Some stacks are broken, which can be confusing. In the example above we can see the 13.8 unknown chunk which leads to some JVM activities, but also to some Java code. More on that later.
So, it would seem that we have gained something in visibility into the native/OS/JVM CPU utilization, but lost allot of information we had in the Java side. When is this still useful:

  • This profile is super useful if you are writing Netty and trying to workout which system calls you end up with from your JNI code, or where time is spent in that code (netty implements it's own native epoll selector, very cool). If you are writing an application which utilizes JNI libraries this profile will give you visibility across the divide. The alternative here would be to use 2 profilers and try and correlate them. Solaris Studio also offers some help here, I will one day write a post on Solaris Studio.
  • This in not a good example of a profile dominated by JVM threads, but in many profiles the GC activity will show up. This is very useful, as GC and compiler CPU utilization can get in the way of application threads using the available CPU. A Java only profiler leaves you to correlate GC/compilation logs and application profile to figure out who ate the pie. It's also an interesting view into which part of the GC is to blame.
  • Some JVM intrinsics are confusing to AsyncGetCallTrace, and invisible to safepoint profilers. The biggest culprit I see is array copy. Array copies will show up as failed samples on AGCT profilers (unless, like JMC they just fail to tell you about failed samples all together). They show up in this profile (search above for arraycopy), but only a tiny bit.
  • This profile can be collected system wide, allowing you to present a much wider picture and expose machine wide issues. This is important when you are looking at machine level analysis of your application to improve configuration/setup.
  • In depth view of OS calls can inform your configuration.

'look at me! look at me now!' said the cat.
'with a cup and a cake on the top of my hat!
I can hold up TWO books!
I can hold up the fish!
and a little toy ship!
and some milk on a dish!
and look!
I can hop up and down on the ball!
but that is not all!
oh, no. That is not all...

Bonus: Inlined Frames! Threads! COLOR!

We can win back the inlined frames information by asking perf-map-agent to create a more detailed map file with inlining data. This leads to larger map files, but should be worth it.
You can further tweak the command line to color kernel frames differently and control sample duration and frequency. And while we're a-tweakin' lets also have threads info.
Here's what you run:
PERF_COLLAPSE_OPTS="--kernel --tid" PERF_RECORD_FREQ=99 PERF_RECORD_SECONDS=10 PERF_MAP_OPTIONS=unfoldall perf-java-flames <pid>
And the graph now looks like this:
Please Use modern Browser (e.g. recent chrome?) to see this SVG!

  • The Java frames are now green and aqua. Aqua frames are inlined frames and green are "real". This information is not presented at all by most profilers, and is pretty inaccessible in others. Here we can instantly see some interesting inlining challenges in the tall towers of same sized frames. The compiler inlines through many, but maybe eventually gives up, maybe there's something to be won by simplifying the abstraction here?
  • Thread id is added as a base frame. This is helpful in this particular example because there are only 2 interesting threads and I very much want to see this split. It also helps bring back some broken stacks into the fold. Now I can tell these frames belong to the Netty epoll thread. Yay.
  • Orange frames are kernel frames.
  • Having the thread id highlights that the none Java frames on the left are from a variety of threads. If we had more GC/Compiler work happening this may become interesting.
  • Profiling a large application with thread pools this separation by thread may not be what you want... but sometimes it is very helpful, like above. In this benchmark I have a thread generating load and a thread I want to profile, so telling them apart works great. At the moment there's no mapping of threads to thread names, but in future we may be able to easily group thread pools for more meaningful views.

Bonus: Hack It All Up

There's very little code in perf-map-agent, and the scripts would take you 5 minutes to read through. You don't have to use the scripts, you can write your own. You can add or enhance features, it's easy to participate or customize. Dig in, have fun :-)
The FlameGraph scripts are nice and tidy, and the pipeline separation of [profile -> collapsed stacks -> graph] means you can read through them and tweak as you like the bits you care about without caring too much about the rest. While working on this post I played with the diff presentation a bit. It was my first ever interaction with Perl, and I'm not so very bright, and I managed to get what I wanted. Surely someone as fine as yourself can do better.
If you look at Brenden's updates page you'll see many many people are jumping in and tweaking and sharing and making funky things. Go for it!

Summary And Credits

So you can have flame graphs, all of you. And you can feed these with inputs from several sources, each with their own set of pros and cons. It makes a great tool in your tool box and may give you that extra perspective you are missing in your profiling.
There's a few people who deserve mention in the context of the tools above, look them up, they all helped make it happen:
  • Brendan Gregg: FlameGraphs proud daddy. Brendan has written allot about FlameGraphs, work through his posts and you'll learn plenty.
  • Johannes Rudolph: Author and maintainer of perf-map-agent.
  • Jake Lucianni: Contributed flamegraphs support for inlined frames.
  • Richard Warburton: Author and maintainer of honest-profiler.
Thanks for reading :-) next up some JVM profile analysis

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

What do Atomic*::lazySet/Atomic*FieldUpdater::lazySet/Unsafe::putOrdered* actually mean?

Paved with well intended definitions it is.
lazySet/putOrdered (or an ordered store) was added as a bit of a rushed/non-commital afterthought after the JMM was done, so it's description is subject to many debates on the mailing lists, stack overflow and watercoolers the world over. This post merely tries to provide a clear definition with references to relevant/reputable sources.

An ordered store is a weakened volatile store[2][5]. It prevents preceding stores and loads from being reordered with the store[1][3][6], but does not prevent subsequent stores and loads from being reordered with it[2][4].
If there was a JMM cookbook entry for ordered store defining it with barriers in mind it would seem that the consensus is that ordered stores are preceded by a StoreStore AND a LoadStore barrier[4][6].

Ordered store is practically the same as a C++ memory_release_store[5][7].

[1] Original bug:
"lazySet provides a preceding store-store barrier (which is either a no-op or very cheap on current platforms), but no store-load barrier"
See here: http://bugs.java.com/bugdatabase/view_bug.do?bug_id=6275329

[2] java.util.concurrent docs:
"lazySet has the memory effects of writing (assigning) a volatile variable except that it permits reorderings with subsequent (but not previous) memory actions that do not themselves impose reordering constraints with ordinary non-volatile writes."
See here: https://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/api/?java/util/concurrent/package-summary.html

[3] JMM cookbook: Defining barriers meaning here: http://g.oswego.edu/dl/jmm/cookbook.html

[4] concurrency-interest Q&A with Doug Lea, October 2011:
"[Ruslan]:... If it happens (== we see spin-wait loop finished) -- does it mean,that all writes preceding lazySet are also done, committed, and visible to thread 2, which finished spin-wait loop?
[Doug]: Yes, although technically, you cannot show this by reference to the Synchronization Order in the current JLS.
lazySet basically has the properties of a TSO store"
See here: http://cs.oswego.edu/pipermail/concurrency-interest/2011-October/008296.html

The discussion is REALLY worth reading, involving Hans, Doug, Vitaly, Ruslan and other such respectable members of this excellent mailing list. Go on, I'll wait.

The discussion on that thread concludes the following is required:
LoadStore + StoreStore
st [Y],X // store X into memory address Y

Outcome: Stores before and after are now prevented from floating across the barrier. Loads before the barrier are also prevented from floating down. Later loads are free to float up. Note that st may in theory be delayed indefinitely, certainly other loads and stores are allowed to float up between it and the barrier.

[5] concurrency-interest Q&A with Aleksey Shipilev, May 2016:
"putOrdered is a release in disguise, most of the C++11 std::atomic(...,
mem_order_release) reasoning applies here."
"acquire/release are the relaxations from the usual volatile
rules -- while producing happens-before-s, they drop from total
synchronization order, thus breaking sequential consistency."

And adds some fine examples:
"Safe publication still works:

                       int x; volatile int y;
    put(x, 1);                   |  r1 = get{Acquire|Volatile}(y);
    put{Release|Volatile}(y, 2); |  r2 = get(x);

(r1, r2) = (2, 0) is forbidden.

But anything trickier that requires sequential consistency fails. IRIW
fails, because no consistent write order observed by all threads. Dekker
fails, because release stores followed by loads may or may not be
visible in program order:

                     volatile int x; volatile int y;
    putRelease(x, 1);            |    putRelease(y, 1);
    r1 = getAcquire(y);          |    r2 = getAcquire(x);

(r1, r2) = (0, 0) is allowed. Forbidden if all ops are volatile.

Safe construction still does not work (even for volatiles!):

                                A global;
    A a = <alloc>;                  |  A a = global;
    put{Release|Volatile}(a.x, 1);  |  r1 = get{Acquire|Volatile}(a.x);
    global = a;                     |

(r1) = (0) is allowed."
See here: http://cs.oswego.edu/pipermail/concurrency-interest/2016-May/015104.html

[6] concurrency-interest Q&A with Aleksey Shipilev, March 2016:
"> int a, b;
> boolean tryLock() {
>     UNSAFE.putOrdered(a, 1); // Declare intent.
>     // No StoreLoad here as store is not volatile.
>     if (UNSAFE.getVolatile(b) == 1)) {
>         // Reset intent and return false;
>     }
>     return true;
> }

Even in the naive barrier interpretation that usually gives stronger
answers, you have:

 a = 1;

 r1 = b;
See here: http://cs.oswego.edu/pipermail/concurrency-interest/2016-March/015037.html

[7] C++ memory_order_release definition:
"A store operation with this memory order performs the release operation: no reads or writes in the current thread can be reordered after this store. All writes in the current thread are visible in other threads that acquire the same atomic variable (see Release-Acquire ordering below) and writes that carry a dependency into the atomic variable become visible in other threads that consume the same atomic (see Release-Consume ordering below)."
See here: http://en.cppreference.com/w/cpp/atomic/memory_order

Many thanks to A. Shipilev, M. Thompson, D. Lawrie and C. Ruslan  for reviewing, any remaining errors are their own and they shall be most severely reprimanded for them.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Linked Array Queues, part 2: SPSC Benchmarks

JCTools has a bunch of benchmarks we use to stress test the queues and evaluate optimizations.
These are of course not 'real' workloads, but serve to highlight imperfections and opportunities. While it is true that an optimization might work in a benchmark but not in the real world, a benchmark can work as a demonstration that there are at least circumstances in which it does work. All measurement is imperfect, but not as imperfect as claims made with no fucking evidence whatsoever, so here goes.
How do these linked-array queues fare in the benchmarks? what can we learn here?
The linked array queues are a hybrid of the array and linked queues. So it seems reasonable that we should compare them to both SpscArrayQueue and SpscLinkedQueue. We should also consider how the queues differ and see if we can flush out the differences via the benchmarks.
If you crack under the pressure of boring details, skip to the summary, do not stop at interlude, do not collect a cool drink or get praise, just be on yer fuckin' merry way.


Benchmarks are run on a quiet server class machine:
  • Xeon processor(Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2670 v3 @ 2.30GHz): 2 CPUs x 12 cores x 2 threads (HT)
  • CentOS
  • Oracle JDK8u101
  • All benchmarks are run taskset to cores on the same numa node, but such that threads cannot share the same physical core.
  • Turbo boost is off, the scaling governor is userspace and the frequency is fixed.
  • The code is on github

Throughput benchmark: background and method

A throughput benchmark for queues is a tricky fucker. In particular the results change meaning depending on the balance between consumer and producer:
  • If the consumer is faster than the producer we are measuring empty queue contention (producer/consumer hitting the same cache line for elements in the queue, perhaps sampling each other index). Empty queues are the expected state for responsive applications.
  • If the producer is faster than the consumer we are measuring full queue contention, which may have similar issues. For some queues which optimize for the healthy assumption that queues are mostly empty this may be a particularly bad place to be.
  • If the producer and consumer are well balanced we are testing a streaming use case which offers the most opportunities for progress for both consumer and producer. This should yield the best performance, but for most applications may not be a realistic scenario at all.
The JCTools throughput benchmark does not resolve these issues. It does however report results which give us an idea of poll/offer failure rates which are in turn indicative of which state we find ourselves in.
A further challenge in managed runtime environments, which is unrelated to queues, is that garbage generating benchmarks will have GC state accumulate across measurement iterations. The implication is that each iteration is measuring from a different starting state. Naturally occurring GCs will leave the heap in varying states depending on the point at which they hit. We can choose to either embrace the noise in the measurement as an averaging of the cost/overhead of garbage or allocate a large enough heap to accommodate a single iteration worth of allocation and force a full GC per iteration, thus resetting the state per iteration. The benchmarks below were run with 8g heap and a GC cycle between iterations.
The benchmark I run here is the no backoff version of the throughput benchmark where failure to offer/poll makes no attempt at waiting/yielding/tapping of foot and just tries again straight away. This serves to maximize contention and is not a recipe for happiness in real applications.
JMH parameters common to all runs below:
  • -gc true -> GC cycle between iterations
  • -jvmArgs="-Xmx8g -Xms8g" -> 8g heap
  • -i 10  -r 1 -> 10 measurement iterations, 1 second each
  • -wi 20 -w 1 -> 20 warmup iterations, 1 second each
  • -f 5 -> five forks each to expose run to run variance

Throughput benchmark: baseline(JMH params: -bm thrpt -tu us)

Here's some baseline results, note the unit is ops/us equal to millions of ops per second:
SpscArrayQueue (128k capacity)
offersFailed   0.005 ±  0.008  ops/us
offersMade   252.201 ±  1.649  ops/us
pollsFailed    0.009 ±  0.008  ops/us
pollsMade    252.129 ±  1.646  ops/us

So the SpscArrayQueue is offering great throughput, and seems pretty well balanced with failed offers/polls sort of cancelling out and low compared to the overall throughput.

offersFailed     ≈ 0           ops/us
offersMade    14.711 ±  5.897  ops/us
pollsFailed   12.624 ±  8.281  ops/us
pollsMade     14.710 ±  5.896  ops/us

For the SpscLinkedQueue we have no failed offers, since it's an unbounded queue. We do see a fair amount of failed polls. We expect the polls to be faster than the offers as offering pays for allocation of nodes on each element (24b overhead per element), while the poll simply leaves it to the GC to toss it all away.
With this baseline we would expect linked arrays queues performance to be somewhere between the 2 data points above. Unlikely to hit the highs of the preallocated array queue, but hopefully much better than a linked queue.

Throughput benchmark: growable

So assuming we let it grow to 128k, how does the SpscGrowableArrayQueue perform in this benchmark and how much does the initial size impact the performance? CNK here is the initial buffer size. The buffer will double in size when offer fills up a buffer until we hit the max size buffer.
 CNK                 Score    Error   Units
  16 offersFailed    0.006 ±  0.006  ops/us
  16 offersMade    183.720 ±  0.450  ops/us
  16 pollsFailed     0.003 ±  0.001  ops/us
  16 pollsMade     183.592 ±  0.450  ops/us
 128 offersFailed    0.003 ±  0.006  ops/us
 128 offersMade    184.236 ±  0.336  ops/us
 128 pollsFailed     0.003 ±  0.001  ops/us
 128 pollsMade     184.107 ±  0.336  ops/us
  1K offersFailed    0.001 ±  0.003  ops/us
  1K offersMade    183.113 ±  1.385  ops/us
  1K pollsFailed     0.003 ±  0.001  ops/us
  1K pollsMade     182.985 ±  1.385  ops/us
 16K offersFailed    0.007 ±  0.006  ops/us
 16K offersMade    181.388 ±  5.380  ops/us
 16K pollsFailed     0.004 ±  0.001  ops/us
 16K pollsMade     181.259 ±  5.380  ops/us

  • Under constant streaming pressure the Growable queue will keep growing until either full sized buffer is allocated (very likely) or a smaller buffer in which the throughput is sustainable is found (unlikely for this benchmark as all it takes is a single spike). If that was the case we would have no failing offers. Either way we expect transition to the last buffer to be a short phase after which the algorithm is very similar to SpscArrayQueue and no further allocations happen. The number of resizing events is small, as the buffer doubles each time (so log2(capacity/initial size), e.g. for initial capacity 16k: 16k -> 32k -> 64k -> 128k).
  • You may consider the slow down from SpscArrayQueue large at roughly 25%, but I don't think it too bad considering that with the throughputs in question we are looking at costs in the single digit nanoseconds where every extra instruction is going to show up (back of envelope: 250 ops/us -> ~4ns per offer/poll vs 180 ops/us -> ~5ns. 1ns = ~3 cycle ~= 12 instructions or 1 L1 load).

Throughput benchmark: chunked

For Chunked we see the expected increase in throughput as we increase the chunk size (CNK is the fixed chunk size, the max size is 128K):
 CNK                 Score    Error   Units
  16 offersFailed      ≈ 0           ops/us
  16 offersMade     43.665 ±  0.892  ops/us
  16 pollsFailed     9.160 ±  0.519  ops/us
  16 pollsMade      43.665 ±  0.892  ops/us
 128 offersFailed   ≈ 10⁻⁴           ops/us
 128 offersMade    151.473 ± 18.786  ops/us
 128 pollsFailed     0.380 ±  0.331  ops/us
 128 pollsMade     151.443 ± 18.778  ops/us
  1K offersFailed    0.309 ±  0.375  ops/us
  1K offersMade    149.351 ± 14.102  ops/us
  1K pollsFailed     0.112 ±  0.125  ops/us
  1K pollsMade     149.314 ± 14.120  ops/us
 16K offersFailed   ≈ 10⁻⁸           ops/us
 16K offersMade    175.408 ±  1.563  ops/us
 16K pollsFailed     0.038 ±  0.031  ops/us
 16K pollsMade     175.394 ±  1.563  ops/us

  • Note the decline in throughput for smaller chunks is matched with an increase in poll failures indicating that the consumer is becoming faster than the producer as the chunk grows smaller requiring more frequent allocations by the produce.
  • Note also that even with 16 slot chunks this option is ~3 times faster than the linked alternative.
  • Under constant streaming pressure the Chunked queue will be pushed to it's maximum size, which means the producer will be constantly allocating buffers. The producer resize conditions are also slightly trickier and require sampling of the consumer index. The consumer will be slowed down by this sampling, and also slowed down by jumping to new buffers. This problem will be worse as more resizing happens, which is a factor of chunk size.
  • The benefit of larger chunks will cap out at some point, you could explore this parameter to find the optimum.
  • An exercise to readers: run the benchmark with the JMH GC profiler and compare the queues. Use it to verify the assumption that Growable produces a bounded amount of garbage, while Chunked continues to churn.
  • Max throughput is slightly behind Growable.
The main take aways for sizing here seem to me that tiny chunks are bad, but even with small/medium chunks you can have pretty decent throughput. The right size for your chunk should therefore depend on your expectations of average traffic on the one hand and desirable size when empty.

Throughput benchmark: unbounded

For unbounded we see the expected increase in throughput as we increase the chunk size  (CNK is the chunk size, the max size is infinity and beyond):
 CNK                 Score    Error   Units
  16 offersFailed      ≈ 0           ops/us
  16 offersMade     56.315 ±  7.563  ops/us
  16 pollsFailed    10.823 ±  1.611  ops/us
  16 pollsMade      56.315 ±  7.563  ops/us
 128 offersFailed      ≈ 0           ops/us
 128 offersMade    135.119 ± 23.306  ops/us
 128 pollsFailed     1.236 ±  0.851  ops/us
 128 pollsMade     131.770 ± 21.535  ops/us
  1K offersFailed      ≈ 0           ops/us
  1K offersMade    182.922 ±  3.397  ops/us
  1K pollsFailed     0.005 ±  0.003  ops/us
  1K pollsMade     176.208 ±  3.221  ops/us
 16K offersFailed      ≈ 0           ops/us
 16K offersMade    177.586 ±  2.929  ops/us
 16K pollsFailed     0.031 ±  0.038  ops/us
 16K pollsMade     176.884 ±  2.255  ops/us

  • The 16 chunk size is ~4 times faster than the linked list option, as chunk size increases it gets more efficient.
  • Max throughput is slightly behind growable.
  • Why is Chunked faster than Unbounded on 128 chunks, but slower on 1K? I've not looked into it, it's taken long enough to write this bloody post as it is. How about you check it out and let me know?

Throughput benchmark: summary

  • Growable queue performs well regardless of initial size for this case.
  • For chunked and unbounded the chunk size has definite implications on throughput. Having said that throughput is very good even for relatively small chunks. 
  • Note that the results for the same benchmark without a GC cycle between iterations were very noisy. The above result intentionally removes the variance GC induces by forcing GC and allowing a large heap. The GC impact of linked array queues when churning will likely be in increasing old generation pressure as the overflow chunks are likely to have been promoted before they get collected. This is assuming a load where overflow is not that frequent and other allocation is present.


Go ahead, grab a beer, or a coffee, a mojito perhaps(Norman/Viktor, go on), or maybe order a large Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, you've earned it. I never thought you'd read this far, it's a tad dry innit? Well, it's not fun writing it either, but we're getting there, just need to look at one more benchmark...

Burst "cost"/latency benchmark: background and method

The burst cost benchmark is a more stable workload than the throughput one. The producer sends a burst of messages to a consumer. The consumer signals completion when the last message in the burst has arrived. The measurement is from first message sent and arrival of last message observed from the producer thread. It's a 'latency' benchmark, or rather an estimate of average communication cost via the particular thread. It's got bells on. It's a friend, and it's a companion, it's the only product you will ever need, follow these easy assembly instructions it never needs ironing.
This is, I think, a better evaluation of queue characteristics than the throughput benchmark for most applications. Queue starts empty, is hit with a burst of traffic and the burst is drained. The cost measured is inclusive of return signal latency, but as scenarios go this is not too far fetched. Calling this queue latency is a damn sight better than PRETENDING THE BLOODY INVERSE OF THROUGHPUT IS LATENCY. <deep breath>
Same machine and JMH parameters used as above. All the measurements below are average time per operation in nanoseconds. The benchmark code can be found here.

Burst Cost benchmark: baseline

Testing first with SpscArrayQueue and SpscLinkedQueue to establish the expected baseline behaviour, BRST is the size of the burst:
SpscArrayQueue (128k capacity)
BRST      Score     Error  Units
  1     284.709 ±   8.813  ns/op
 10     368.028 ±   6.949  ns/op
100     914.150 ±  11.424  ns/op

Right, sending one message has the overhead of cache coherency making data visible to another core. Sending 10/100 messages we can see the benefits of the SpscArrayQueue in allowing consumer and producer to minimize cache coherency overhead per element. We see a satisfying drop in cost per element as the burst size grows (the per element cost is the cost of the burst divided by the number of elements sent, so we see here: 1 -> 284, 10 -> 36, 100 -> 9), but this DOES NOT MEAN THE FRIGGIN' LATENCY IS BLOOMIN' DOWN TO 9ns WHEN WE SEND 100 MESSAGES.

BRST      Score     Error  Units
  1     378.043 ±   7.536  ns/op
 10    1675.589 ±  44.496  ns/op
100   17036.528 ± 492.875  ns/op

For the linked queue the per element overheads are larger, as well as the cost of scanning through a linked list rather than an array as we poll data out. The gap between the it and SpscArrayQueue widens as the burst size grows. The linked queue fails to make the most of the batching opportunity offered by slack in the queue in other words.

Burst Cost benchmark: growable

We expect the growable queue to grow to accommodate the size of the burst. The eventual buffer size will be a tighter fit around the burst size, which in theory might be a benefit as the array is more likely to fit in cache. Let's spin the wheel (CNK is the initial chunk size, the max size is 128K):
BRST  CNK    Score    Error  Units
  1    16  327.703 ± 11.485  ns/op
  1   128  292.382 ±  9.807  ns/op
  1    1K  275.573 ±  6.230  ns/op
  1   16K  286.354 ±  6.980  ns/op
 10    16  599.540 ± 73.376  ns/op
 10   128  386.828 ± 10.016  ns/op
 10    1K  376.295 ±  8.009  ns/op
 10   16K  358.096 ±  6.107  ns/op
100    16 1173.644 ± 28.669  ns/op
100   128 1152.241 ± 40.067  ns/op
100    1K  966.612 ±  9.504  ns/op
100   16K  951.495 ± 12.425  ns/op

We have to understand the implementation to understand the results here, in particular:
  • The growable queue buffer will grow to accommodate the burst in a power of 2 sized array. This in particular means that when the burst size is 100 the buffer for the initially smaller 16 chunk queue is also 128. The delta between the 2 configurations becomes marginal once that happens as we see in the 100 burst which forces the initially size 16 element buffer to grow to 128.
  • The queue tries to probe ahead within a buffer to avoid reading on each element.The read ahead step is a 25% of the buffer size. The smaller the buffer the more often we need to probe ahead (e.g. for a 16 element buffer we do this every 4 elements). This overhead is visible in the smaller buffers.
  • A burst which manages to fill more than 75% will fail to read ahead with the long probe described above and fall back to reading a single element ahead. This implies that buffers that fit too snugly to the burst size will have worse performance.
  • When the buffers are sufficiently large the costs closely match the costs observed for the SpscArrayQueue. Yay!

Burst Cost benchmark: chunked

For Chunked we see a slight increase in base cost and a bummer when the burst size exceeds the chunk size (CNK is the chunk size, the max size is 128K):
BRST  CNK    Score    Error  Units
  1    16  311.743 ± 11.613  ns/op
  1   128  295.987 ±  5.468  ns/op
  1    1K  281.308 ±  8.381  ns/op
  1   16K  281.962 ±  7.376  ns/op
 10    16  478.687 ± 52.547  ns/op
 10   128  390.041 ± 16.029  ns/op
 10    1K  371.067 ±  7.789  ns/op
 10   16K  386.683 ±  5.276  ns/op
100    16 2513.226 ± 38.285  ns/op
100   128 1117.990 ± 14.252  ns/op
100    1K  969.435 ± 10.072  ns/op
100   16K  939.010 ±  8.173  ns/op

Results are overall similar to the growable, what stands out is:
  • If the chunk is too little to accommodate the burst we see a large increase to cost. Still, comparing this to the SpscLinkedQueue shows a significant benefit. Comparing to the growable version we see the sense in perhaps letting the queue grow to a better size as a response to bursts.
  • If the chunk is large enough to accommodate the burst behaviour closely matches SpscGrowableArrayQueue. Yay!

Burst Cost benchmark: unbounded

Final one, just hang in there. 
BRST  CNK    Score    Error  Units
  1    16  303.030 ± 11.812  ns/op
  1   128  308.158 ± 11.064  ns/op
  1    1K  286.379 ±  6.027  ns/op
  1   16K  282.574 ± 10.886  ns/op
 10    16  554.285 ± 54.468  ns/op
 10   128  407.350 ± 11.227  ns/op
 10    1K  379.716 ±  9.357  ns/op
 10   16K  370.885 ± 12.068  ns/op
100    16 2748.900 ± 64.321  ns/op
100   128 1150.393 ± 26.355  ns/op
100    1K 1005.036 ± 14.491  ns/op
100   16K  979.372 ± 13.369  ns/op

What stands out is:
  • If the chunk is too little to accommodate the burst we see a large increase to cost. Still, comparing this to the SpscLinkedQueue shows a significant benefit.
  • If the chunk is large enough to accommodate the burst and make the most of probing ahead the costs closely resemble the SpscArrayQueue for larger bursts. Yay!

Burst Cost benchmark: summary

We see a pretty much expected result for these queues, which is to say that on the fast path they are the same and therefore if the fast path dominates they show the same costs as a plain SpscArrayQueue, which is good news. When chunks are too small and we have to allocate new chunks we start to see overheads.
A more subtle observation here is that smaller buffers have some drawbacks as the slow path of the producer code is more likely to be executed. This reflects correctly the empty queue assumption that the JCTools queues rely on, but broken assumptions are... well... broken, so the cost goes up.
A further consideration here for smaller buffer is the hot/cold structure of the code. It is intended that the producer code inlines the "offer" hot path, but as the cold path is rarely run it will fail to inline it. This is an intentional inlining fail. Inlining the cold path will make the "offer" larger and allot more complex, making the compilers job harder and may result in worse resulting code. When we run with burst/buffer sizes which systematically violate the hot/cold assumption we can trigger a bad inlining decision. This can be worked around by marking the cold methods as "dontinline" using the CompileCommand option or the compiler oracle file.

Mmmm... this is boring :(

Yes... Nothing too surprising happened here, I did not emerge from the lab with my coat on fire, these things happen. One anecdote worth sharing here is that I originally run the benchmarks with only 2 threads allocated to the JVM, this resulted in noisier measurement as I effectively under provisioned the JVM with CPUs for compilation/GC or any OS scheduling contention/interrupts. When running on a 2 core laptop this is a reasonable compromise to fix the cross core topology of the benchmark, but on a server class machine it is easy enough to provision the same topology with more CPUs.
Next part will feature the astounding extension of these queues to the MPSC domain and will be far more interesting! I promise.

    Monday, 24 October 2016

    Linked Array Queues, part 1: SPSC

    When considering concurrent queues people often go for either:
    1. An array backed queue (circular array/ring buffer etc.)
    2. A linked list queue
    The trade off in the Java world seems to be that array backed queues offer better throughput, but are always bounded and allocated upfront, and linked queues offer smaller footprint when empty, but worse throughput and higher overhead per element when full. Linked queues are also often unbounded.
    In JCTools we have the above duality, but in later versions introduced a hybrid queue which attempts to offer a middle ground between the 2 extremes above. This hybrid is the linked array queue:
    1. Queue is backed by one or more arrays of references.
    2. As long as the queue can fit in a single array no further arrays are allocated.
    3. When empty the queue can naturally shrink to a single backing array.
    For the SPSC case this has already been done in C++ Fast Flow with their uSPSC queues. In Java there are no other implementations that I know of (please let me know if I missed anything).
    In implementing these queues I have relied heavily on the feedback and support of @akarnokd@pcholakov and others who contributed fixes, filed bugs, and so forth. Thanks guys!
    3 variations on linked array queues have been explored in JCTools:
    1. Chunked: Each backing array is a fixed chunk size. The queue is bounded.
    2. Unbounded: Each backing array is a fixed chunk size. The queue is unbounded.
    3. Growable: Chunk size doubles every time until the full blown backing array is used. The queue is bounded.

    Hot Path offer/poll

    The queues all share the same polling logic and on the fast path share the same offer logic as well:
    If you've not read JCTools code before, or maybe you've forgotten, here's the convention:
    • sv/lvXXX: Store/Load Volatile, same as a volatile field write/read
    • sp/lpXXX: Store/Load Plain, same as a normal field write/read
    • soXXX: Store Ordered, same as an AtomicXXX.lazySet
    This code will need reconsidering in a post-JDK9 world, some other time perhaps.
    So what's the deal:
    • As long as we are not passed the producerLimit, keep writing.
      • If we have passed it go to slow path (where the money be)
    • As long as there's stuff in the queue, read it.
      • Unless it's JUMP, in which case read through to next array.
    The general idea here being that the common case is small and simple. This should have the following effects:
    1. offer/poll code is small enough to inline when hot.
    2. offerColdPath/newBufferPoll are set up to either not inline or, when inlined be out of band code blocks. This should keep size on the hot path small and help the compiler focus on more important things.
    3. offer/poll should perform similar to the SpscArrayQueue in the common case.
    NOTE: The producer publishes element then index, but the consumer does the reverse. This ensures a consistent view on the consumer side where the following assertion must hold:
      !queue.isEmpty() => queue.poll() != null

    NOTE: In some early versions the new array was entered instead of the JUMP constant marker. This required an instanceof check for each element loaded and a compromise to either not allow Object[] to be an element of the queue or introduce some wrapper class. Comparing to a constant turned out to be much simpler and faster.

    Cold Path poll

    The consumer has hit a JUMP, which indicates the producer has linked a new array to this one. The new array is the last element of the current array. We go to newBufferPoll:

    The consumer therefore has to:
    1. Load new array from the last element of old array.
    2. Null out reference from old to new (prevent nepotism).
    3. Adjust consumer view on buffer and mask.
    4. Poll (remove element and progress counter) from new buffer.
    Note that peek similarly refreshes view of buffer on hitting the JUMP marker. This goes against the standard spirit on peek which is a view only operation.

    Cold Path offer: Unbounded

    This method is implemented differently for each of the use cases, unbounded is the simplest:
    In the unbounded case we care only about our ability to make progress inside the current buffer:

    1. Probe inside buffer to see if we have 'many' elements to go before full. If buffer is mostly empty (this is the case for most applications most of the time), than we have successfully saved ourselves loading elements from the queue before writing in. A successful probe will update the producer limit and write to the queue.
    2. Probe failed, we check if we can write a single element. Remember we always need one free slot to JUMP with, so we look at the slot following the one we are on. If the next slot is empty we write to the current one, but we don't update the limit.
    3. A single slot remains in the buffer. We allocate a new buffer and link to it.
    This is not a large departure from the SpscArrayQueue, I leave the comparison as an exercise to the delightful reader.

    Cold Path offer: Chunked

    With chunked linked array queues we have a fixed chunk size, but an overall bound on the size. This complicates matters because on top of the buffer level limits put on the producer we must also consider the queue level limitation. In particular there might be space available in the current producer buffer, while the queue is in fact full. Here's the implementation:
    Similar to the above but the difference lies in negotiating the buffer vs. queue limit.

    Cold Path offer: Growable

    The growable queue is similar in spirit to an ArrayList as it doubles it's backing array capacity when a buffer is full. This adds an interesting bit of information to the game, since:
    1. If we are not on the last buffer, we've not hit the queue limit,
    2. If we're on the last buffer, and so is the consumer, we can revert to just checking for null in the buffer.
    3. If we're on the last buffer, and the consumer isn't, we need to hang tight and let it pass. It's a temporary state.
    The code for handling this is rather ugly and long, but since you've put up with the rest:
    The lookAheadStep is dynamically adjusted as the buffer grows, and also acts as an indicator for the transition period which the producer is on the last buffer and the consumer is trailing. It's a mess to look at, but sadly performs better than a neater alternative which builds on the Chunked variant... General idea:

    1. lookAheadStep is positive => we are either not on last buffer, or on  it for both consumer and producer => it is enough to consider the elements in the producer buffer to determine if the queue is full. In particular if the buffer is full then we must resize unless we are on the last buffer in which case we are full. Note that we allow using the last buffer to the last element, since we don't need a JUMP anymore.
    2. lookAheadStep is negative => we are waiting for consumer to get to the last buffer. We use the lookAheadStep to indicate how far behind the consumer is.
    It's not complex, just messy, and if you got an elegant representation please ping me with your suggestions.


    GODDAMN it! this is the time consuming part! I've benchmarked on a few setups, but not kept track or clear records. I'll need to do it all again, might as well be another post since nobody reads this far into these things anyhow. La la la la la, performance is great, la la la la la, if I look now I might be disappointed, la la la la la, this is better than benchmarking, la la la la la.