Transparent Pointer Compression for Linked Data Structures
Chris Lattner and Vikram Adve


64-bit address spaces are increasingly important for modern applications, but they come at a price: pointers use twice as much memory, reducing the effective cache capacity and memory bandwidth of the system (compared to 32-bit address spaces). This paper presents a sophisticated, automatic transformation that shrinks pointers from 64-bits to 32-bits (and potentially less). The approach is macroscopic, i.e., it operates on an entire logical data structure in the program at a time. It allows an individual data structure instance or even a subset thereof to grow up to 232 bytes in size. Furthermore, the transformation can choose to compress some data structures in a program but not others (e.g. if only part of the program is type-safe). We also describe (but have not implemented) a dynamic version of the technique that can transparently expand the pointers in an individual data structure if it exceeds the 4GB limit. For a collection of pointer-intensive benchmarks, we show that the transformation improves performance substantially (20% to 2x) for several of these benchmarks, and also reduces peak heap size by a similar factor.


"Transparent Pointer Compression for Linked Data Structures"
Chris Lattner and Vikram Adve.
Proceedings of the ACM Workshop on Memory System Performance (MSP'05), Chicago, Illinois, June, 2005.




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The full context for this work is available in Chris Lattner's Ph.D. Thesis.

BibTeX Entry:

    author    = {Chris Lattner and Vikram Adve},
    title     = "{Transparent Pointer Compression for Linked Data Structures}",
    booktitle = "{Proceedings of the ACM Workshop on Memory System Performance (MSP'05)}",
    address   = {Chigago, Illinois},
    month     = {June},
    year      = {2005}

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