[Dev-luatex] luafontloader virtual access (bug #404, #448)

Hans Hagen pragma at wxs.nl
Thu Sep 9 10:16:32 CEST 2010

On 9-9-2010 9:07, Paweł Jackowski wrote:
> Taco Hoekwater wrote:
> [...]
>> Hans and I just did some tests, and it seems that the userdata access
>> is useful if *but only if* you are very low on memory. In other cases,
>> it just adds extra objects to be garbage collected, which makes the
>> collector slower. That is on top of extra time spent on the actual
>> calls, and even worse: those extra gc objects tend to be scattered
>> around in memory, resulting in extra minor page faults (cpu cache
>> misses) and all that has a noticeable effect on run speed: the
>> metatable-based access is 20-30% slower than the old massive to_table.
> Interesting. As you said, much depends on how one uses / tests. I made
> some tests with translating fontforge font structure directly into the
> luatex font table without an intermediate form. This gives bests
> results, but obviously requires too many simplifications.

That is indeed where there can be some gain (no intermediate table but 
compensated by function calls) but as soon as you start keeping some 
extra info around (not passed to tex or manipulated inbetween) it 
quickly gets worse due to the mentioned scattering. Then there can be a 
smaller mem footprint at the cost of some extra runtime. On the other 
hand, using the traditional method (table) and invoking the garbage 
collector every now and then gives an equally low memory footprint but a 
sweep takes some time as well. Interesting is that on some test runs I 
can get about twice the performance using tables but it's not that easy 
to figure out why.

Btw, in the table approach one can manipulate the font before 
conversion, something that is less easy in the userdata variant.

Anyhow, what we provide now is a nice compromise


                                           Hans Hagen | PRAGMA ADE
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