[CM] Idea: using handles instead of pointers, s7_clone

Elijah Stone elronnd at elronnd.net
Fri Sep 23 11:59:08 PDT 2022

So you add an indirection to every object, and limit the heap to 1b objects? 
I don't see this as a win.

Checkpointing is cool, though.


On Fri, 23 Sep 2022, Christos Vagias wrote:

> Greetings all,
> Just wanted to share with you an idea I had about a possible future
> (and breaking!) s7 change.
> Namely: using handles instead of pointers. This means every s7 api
> method would return a s7_handle instead of a s7_pointer.
> A s7_handle could be simply:
> struct {
> uint32_t index;
> };
> index would point to the index in the s7 storage.
> I'm a bit confused with s7 heap vs s7 stack, but let's just assume the
> storage being
> s7_cell heap[INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE], then, to get the (for internal use) s7_pointer:
> s7_pointer s7_handle_to_pointer(s7_handle handle) {
> return heap[handle.index];
> }
> Also any s7 structure (list/vector etc) would store references to
> s7_handles instead of s7_pointers.
> When the storage/heap needs to resize it's just a matter of realloc &
> initializing the new allocated part.
> My main drive for this change is to make something like s7_clone
> possible. By using s7_handles one could copy the whole s7 instance
> just by doing a memcpy of the s7's storage/heap. I'm attaching some
> contrived code of how one could use this feature.
> Another possible win from a change like this would be making s7
> objects smaller => less cache misses.
> s7_handle could encode in which storage the underlying s7_cell is
> stored (eg using bit fields: 2 bits for storage group, 30 for index)
> Like this, s7_cell could be split into separate groups (& underlying
> storage), depending in their size.
> Since the s7_cell type info is 8 bytes:
> - numbers need only 16 more bytes, making them only 24 bytes in total.
> - the rest (c-pointers vectors ports etc) could stay together. Right
> now s7_cell is 48 bytes, but that could go lower since every
> s7_pointer (8 bytes) could be replaced with s7_handle (4 bytes).
> For reference, this is the article that inspired me:
> https://floooh.github.io/2018/06/17/handles-vs-pointers.html
> I have also used this technique for a classic tree-like data
> structure, where I'm storing everything in a vector, and passing
> around indexes instead of pointers. This made copying the whole tree
> essentially free (memcpy instead of having to traverse down the tree).
> Looking forward to your input!
> Best,
> Christos Vagias

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