#garbage-collection #collector #garbage #gc

refuse

An easy-to-use, incremental, multi-threaded garbage collector

3 releases

0.0.3 May 3, 2024
0.0.2 Apr 3, 2024
0.0.1 Mar 15, 2024

#93 in Memory management

25 downloads per month
Used in refuse-pool

MIT/Apache

105KB
2K SLoC

Refuse

An easy-to-use, incremental, multi-threaded garbage collector for Rust.

//! A basic usage example demonstrating the garbage collector.
use refuse::{CollectionGuard, Ref, Root};

let guard = CollectionGuard::acquire();
// Allocate a vec![Ref(1), Ref(2), Ref(3)].
let values: Vec<Ref<u32>> = (1..=3).map(|value| Ref::new(value, &guard)).collect();
let values = Root::new(values, &guard);
drop(guard);

// Manually execute the garbage collector. Our data will not be freed,
// since `values` is a "root" reference.
refuse::collect();

// Root references allow direct access to their data, even when a
// `CollectionGuard` isn't held.
let (one, two, three) = (values[0], values[1], values[2]);

// Accessing the data contained in a `Ref` requires a guard, however.
let mut guard = CollectionGuard::acquire();
assert_eq!(one.load(&guard), Some(&1));
assert_eq!(two.load(&guard), Some(&2));
assert_eq!(three.load(&guard), Some(&3));

// Dropping our root will allow the collector to free our `Ref`s.
drop(values);
guard.collect();
assert_eq!(one.load(&guard), None);

As the version number indicates, this crate is in early development. No semver compatibility will be provided until 0.1.0.

Motivation

While working on Muse, @Ecton recognized the need for garbage collection to prevent untrusted scripts from uncontrollably leaking memory. After surveying the landscape, he didn't find any that would easily incorporate into his vision for the language. As far as he can tell, the design choices of this collector are different than any existing collector in Rust.

Design

This crate exposes a completely safe API for an incremental, multi-threaded, tracing garbage collector in Rust.

Tracing garbage collectors can be implemented in various ways to identify the "roots" of known memory so that they can trace from the roots through all necessary references to determine which memory allocations can be freed.

This crate exposes a Root<T> type which behaves similarly to an Arc<T> but automatically becomes a root for the collector. Root<T> implements Deref<Target = T>, allowing access to the underlying data even while the collector is running.

The Ref<T> type implements Copy and does not provide direct access to the underlying data. To get a reference to the underlying data, a weak reference must be upgraded using a CollectionGuard. The returned reference is tied to the guard, which prevents collection from running while any guards are held.

A CollectionGuard is needed to:

  • Allocate a new Root<T> or Ref<T>
  • Load an &T from a Ref<T>

Safety

This crate has safety comments next to each usage of unsafe, and passes Miri tests when provided the flags:

MIRIFLAGS="-Zmiri-permissive-provenance -Zmiri-ignore-leaks" cargo +nightly miri test
  • -Zmiri-permissive-provenance: parking_lot internally casts a usize to a pointer, which breaks pointer provenance rules. Pointer provinence is currently only an experimental model, and nothing this collector is using from parking_lot couldn't be implemented in a fashion that honors pointer provinence. Thus, this library's author consider's this an implementation detail that can be ignored.

  • -Zmiri-ignore-leaks: This crate spawns a global collector thread that never shuts down. Miri detects that the main thread does not wait for spawned threads to shut down and warns about this potential memory leak. When a thread is shut down and all of its data is no longer reachable, the thread storage will be cleaned up. However, the collector never shuts down and assumes that new threads could still be spawned at any given time.

    Additionally, on some platforms the main thread's thread-local storage may not be cleaned up when the main thread exits according to LocalKey's documentation

This crate exposes a safe API that guarantees no undefined behavior can be triggered by incorrectly using the API or implementing the Collectable trait incorrectly. Incorrect usage of this crate can lead to deadlocks and memory leaks. Specifically:

  • Reference cycles between Root<T>'s will lead to leaks just as Arc<T>'s will.
  • If a Root<T> uses locking for interior mutability, holding a lock without a collector guard can cause the garbage collector to block until the lock is released. This escalates from a pause to a deadlock if the lock can't be released without acquiring a collection guard. All locks should be acquired and dropped only while a CollectorGuard is acquired.

What's left

  • Finalizers: Currently Drop is executed, but there's no way to attach behavior to run before the object is dropped.
  • More advanced algorithm: The current algorithm employed is the naive mark-and-sweep. It performs well for smaller sets, but will become slower as the memory sets grow larger. Other algorithms may be considered, but the current naive algorithm is probably suitable for its application (Muse).

Benchmarks

Benchmarking is hard. These benchmarks aren't adequate. These numbers are from executing benches/timings.rs, which compares allocating 100,000 32-byte values, comparing the time it takes to allocate each Arc<[u8; 32]>, Root<[u8;32]>, and Ref<[u8; 32]>. The measurements are the amount of time it takes for an individual allocation. These results are from running on a Ryzen 3700X.

1 thread

Label avg min max stddev out%
Arc 47.39ns 20.00ns 8.680us 153.2ns 0.010%
Ref 58.94ns 30.00ns 286.1us 1.191us 0.002%
Root 84.67ns 40.00ns 138.6us 1.537us 0.001%

4 threads

Label avg min max stddev out%
Arc 47.55ns 20.00ns 8.670us 144.1ns 0.010%
Ref 76.43ns 30.00ns 320.4us 2.428us 0.000%
Root 152.8ns 40.00ns 155.6us 2.740us 0.001%

8 threads

Label avg min max stddev out%
Arc 54.60ns 20.00ns 16.60us 159.1ns 0.010%
Ref 99.02ns 30.00ns 586.0us 3.690us 0.000%
Root 302.6ns 40.00ns 721.7us 5.727us 0.002%

16 threads

Label avg min max stddev out%
Arc 58.38ns 20.00ns 920.9us 862.5ns 0.000%
Ref 211.1ns 30.00ns 1.216ms 10.41us 0.000%
Root 675.6ns 40.00ns 1.565ms 16.42us 0.002%

32 threads

Label avg min max stddev out%
Arc 68.82ns 20.00ns 2.491ms 1.680us 0.000%
Ref 425.8ns 30.00ns 3.121ms 21.73us 0.000%
Root 1.538us 40.00ns 2.724ms 33.31us 0.002%

Author's Benchmark Summary

In these benchmarks, 100 allocations are collected into a pre-allocated Vec. The Vec is cleared, and then the process is repeated 1,000 total times yielding 100,000 total allocations.

In both the Root and Ref benchmarks, explicit calls to CollectorGuard::yield_to_collector() are placed after the Vec is cleared. The measurements include time waiting for the incremental garbage collector to run during these yield points.

The CPU that is executing the benchmarks listed above has 16 cores. As the numbers in the benchmarks show, the closer the CPU is to being fully saturated, the more garbage collection impacts the performance.

There are plenty of opportunities to improve the performance, but incremental garbage collection requires pausing all threads briefly to perform the collection. These pauses are generally short when there are few active threads, but when many threads are active, the pauses can be significant.

Dependencies

~1.5–7MB
~44K SLoC