Using dataspaces and allocators

Denis Huber huber.denis at ...435...
Sat Jul 9 17:23:10 CEST 2016

Hallo Norman,

thank you for the detailed answers. It helped a lot in understanding the 
memory management concepts and their utilities :)

On 09.07.2016 00:55, Norman Feske wrote:
> Hello Denis,
>> But, (1) how is a dataspace typically populated with data and (2) how
>> can a component typically read the data?
> attaching a dataspace to a component's region map is similar to using
> 'mmap' for a file on Linux. The underlying backing store becomes visible
> in the component's virtual address space. The dataspace content can be
> read and written via ordinary memory accesses. If two components attach
> the same dataspace into their respective region maps, both can access
> (read, write) the dataspace's content (shared memory).
> Of course, to perform memory accesses, one needs a pointer to the
> virtual address where the dataspace is visible. This pointer is the
> return value of the 'Region_map::attach' operation.
> In practice, we use the 'base/attached_*dataspace.h' utilities, which
> simplify the work with dataspaces. The dataspace is automatically
> attached when an 'Attached_dataspace' is constructed, and you can access
> its content via the pointer returned by the 'local_addr' method.
> For certain types of dataspaces (ROM dataspaces, IO-MEM dataspaces, and
> RAM dataspaces), there are dedicated attached-dataspace variants, which
> implicitly perform the corresponding ROM/IO-MEM session request, or the
> RAM allocation.
> For examples, I recommend you to study the code within repos/os/src that
> uses those utilities, e.g., via
>    grep -r Attached_dataspace repos/os/src
>> A further, related question is, (3) what is an allocator, and (4) what
>> is the difference between an allocator and a dataspace? (5) How is an
>> allocator (e.g. in the form of a sliced_heap or heap) typically used in C++?
> In principle, an allocator is a component-local data structure that
> manages one or several ranges of the component's virtual memory. The
> memory ranges are backed by RAM dataspaces (or by other allocators). The
> 'alloc(size)' method hands out an unused chunk of virtual memory of the
> specified size (similar to 'malloc' in C). Whereas the granularity of a
> dataspaces is bounded by the smallest physical page size supported by
> the MMU (typically 4 KiB), an allocator usually works at a much finer
> granularity.
> An allocator can be passed as argument to the 'new' operator. Thereby,
> an object is created using the specified allocator as the object's
> backing store. This enables Genode components to tightly control and
> account the memory consumed for dynamically allocated objects.
> There are different kinds of allocators designed for different use cases:
> * The 'Heap' uses several dataspaces as backing store and allocates
>    memory chunks using a best-fit allocation strategy. Each of those
>    dataspaces may be used for holding many allocations. Under the hood,
>    the heap requests RAM dataspaces on demand, depending on how much
>    memory is allocated via the 'alloc' method. A single allocation is
>    expected to be relatively quick (as it merely interacts with a
>    component-local data structure) and to consume little memory
>    overhead for bookkeeping.
> * The 'Sliced_heap' uses a distinct dataspace for each allocation. So
>    each allocation is very heavy-weighted. It involves inter-component
>    communication and MMU page-table manipulation, and it is always at
>    least 4 KiB in size. So a sliced heap should only be used as backing
>    store for other allocators, or in situations where the backing store
>    for each allocation must be independently and rigidly accounted for.
> * 'Slab' allocators are used in situations where the allocation size is
>    the same for many objects. Because it is simpler and less flexible
>    than a heap, it requires less memory for the bookkeeping and
>    allocations are quicker.
> I hope this overview is a good starting point to investigate. If you
> have further questions, please don't hesitate to post them to the list.
> Cheers
> Norman

More information about the users mailing list