Perl 6 Performance and Reliability Engineering: Grant Report

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This is a grant report by Jonathan Worthington on his grant under Perl 6 Core Development Fund. We thank the TPF sponsors to make this grant possible.

I have completed the second 200 hours of my Perl 6 performance and reliability engineering grant, funded by the Perl 6 core development fund. This report summarizes the work done during those 200 hours. In accordance with community feedback, the vast majority of effort has been put into reliability rather than performance.

Concurrency robustness

The main area of focus in this grant period has been making Perl 6's concurrency support more robust. While work remains to be done, the improvement over the last several months has been noticeable. It is also an important area for me to focus on, given the small number of people in the community with the skills, time, and patience (or, perhaps, stubbornness) to track down and resolve these problems. Here is a summary of the issues resolved.

  • Fixed a bug affecting use of callwith in multiple threads
  • Fixed RT #128809 (closure-related bug involving s/// construct, which showed up in concurrent scenarios)
  • Fixed RT #129213 (synchronous socket accept could block GC in other threads, thus blocking program progess)
  • Determined RT #128694 fixed, added test (zip-latest on two intervals would hang)
  • Eliminated use of in-place rope flattening, which violated the immutability of strings and could thus cause various crashes (especially in hash access); this resolved many failures, amongst them the one reported in RT #129781, and also made hash lookups using rope strings keys more efficient as a bonus
  • Fixed warnings due to over-sharing of $/ between threads when using grammars in parallel (mostly fixed RT #128833)
  • Fixed a Lock.protect bug when we unwound the stack due to control exceptions (discovered independently of, but also resolved, RT #126774)
  • Fixed RT #129949 (GC crash resulting from missing rooting of sent value in concurrent blocking queue)
  • Fixed RT #129834 (sporadic behavior when concurrently creating Proc::Async objects and obtaining handles)
  • Audited and fixed vulnerable cases of the once construct
  • Fixed RT #129994 (long-lived native call on one thread could block GC in other threads)
  • Fixed RT #125782 (uninformative error reporting when a Promise is broken)
  • Examined RT #127960; concluded it is fixed, but added it as a stress test since it's a bit distinct from the other test for the same underlying bug
  • Fixed a bug where method caches could be revealed to other threads before they were fully deserialized, causing falsely missed lookups
  • Fixed a data race inside of the NativeCall setup code
  • Fixed RT #130064 (trying to rethrow an exception that was never thrown before leaked an internal error; this showed up in Promise.break("foo"))
  • Fixed scoping/cloning problem with LAST/NEXT/QUIT phasers in supply, react, whenever, and for constructs
  • Fixed a bug with QUIT phasers mishandling exceptions thrown synchronously with the .tap
  • Switched to using Supplier::Preserving on the taps of stdout/stderr in Proc::Async, to avoid various innocent-looking usage patterns losing output
  • Fixed RT #128991 (messages could seep out of a supply block even after it was considered done)
  • Fixed a GC corruption bug involving Proc::Async that caused occasional crashes
  • Tracked down and fixed two data races in the supply/whenever implementation and in Supply.interval
  • Fixed RT #130168 (Supply.interval(...) with very small interval would only ever emit 1 value)
  • Fixed interaction of native callbacks, GC blocking, and embedding, which afflicted Inline::Perl6
  • Fixed use-after-free that could occur as part of inlining fixups when in a multi-threaded program
  • Fixed precompilation of the OO::Monitors module
  • Fixed RT #130266 (premature frees of handles in various async socket error handling cases)
  • Fixed SEGVs when GC stressing was applied to S15-nfg/many-threads.t and S17-supply/syntax.t
  • Fixed incorrect reporting of some errors on threads, which could show up as if they were compile-time errors
  • Fixed thread safety issue in the >>.foo implementation
  • Fixed a miscompilation of ||=, &&=, and //=, making them a good bit more efficient along the way
  • Add various bits of missing concurrency control in precompilation management, thus fixing parallel use of precompilation (this will help towards faster p6doc builds)

String decoding improvements in asynchronous I/O

Previously, decoding of bytes to strings for both IO::Socket::Async and Proc::Async was done at the VM level. This created a number of fragilities with regard to decoding errors. Due to time constraints, different encodings besides UTF-8 had not been implemented for these classes either, leaving users of them to do decoding manually if they needed anything else.

To rectify these issues, I first made the VM-backed decoders directly available to userland. These will, in the future, be exposed as a Perl 6-level API, and we'll support user-space encodings. For now, it meant I could move the code that orchestrates the decoding of strings in async I/O into Perl 6 space, fixing the robustness issues. This also means that string decoding for different spawned processes and socket connections can be done in the thread pool, rather than using the event-processing thread. Along the way, I added support for different encodings.

Finally, there were some issues around the way async sockets and processes worked with regard to NFG. I resolved these issues and made sure there was test coverage of the various edge cases.

Non-blocking await and react support

I did the initial round of work to provide support for non-blocking await and react. At present, these constructs will block a real OS thread, even if used on a thread in the thread pool. The changes, available via. use v6.d.PREVIEW, mean that thread-pool threads will be returned to the thread pool to do other work, and the code following the await and react will be scheduled once the result is available or processing is complete. This is implemented using continuations (much like gather/take, except in this case the continuation may be resumed on a different OS thread). The result is that Perl 6 programs will be able to have hundreds or thousands of outstanding reacts and awaits, with just a handful of real OS-threads required to process them.

This is just the initial implementation; further work will be required to make this feature ready to be the default in Perl 6.d.

Memory leak fixes and memory use improvements

The highlight of the memory management improvements was a simplification to the lifetime management of register working sets in MoarVM. This resulted from the elimination of a couple of speculative features that were not yet being utilized by Rakudo, and in one case never would have been anyway. Coupled with a range of cleanups and some code streamlining, the result was a 10% reduction in peak memory use for CORE.setting compilation, and 20% off the compilation runtime. I also:

  • Fixed a bug that caused bogus multi-dispatch cache misses for calls with many named arguments, leading to the cache growing indefinitely with duplicate entries
  • Fixed a regex interpolation memory leak; it boiled down to unclaimed entries left behind in the serialization context weakhash
  • Fixed leaks of asynchronous task handles
  • Fixed a leak in decode stream cleanup
  • Improved memory allocation measurement in I/O, meaning that full GC collection decisions are made more accurately in I/O-heavy programs
  • Fixed a memory leak involving Proc::Async
  • Fixed a memory leak when a synchronous socket failed to connect
  • Tracked down and resolved the last remaining leaks that showed up in perl6-valgrind-m -e '', meaning it is now clean. (Previously, some cleanup was missed at VM shutdown)

Unicode-related work

I did a number of Unicode improvements, as well as discussing with and reviewing Pull Requests from a new contributor who is now doing a bunch of Unicode work for Perl 6. My own contributions code wise were:

  • Initial support for Unicode 9 (updating the character database, basic NFG tweaks)
  • A rewrite of the UTF8-C8 encoding to eliminate various bugs (some falling under RT #128184), including a buffer overrun and not properly round-tripping valid but non-NFC input

Other assorted bugs

I also took care of a range of other bugs, which don't fit into any of the previously mentioned areas of work.

  • Fixed RT #128703 (1 R, 2 R, 3 lost values)
  • Fixed RT #129088 (lack of backtaces for sprintf and friends)
  • Fixed RT #129249 (mis-compilation of /$<cat>=@(...)/)
  • Fixed RT #129306 (erorr reporting bug involving sub-signatures)
  • Partially fixed and tested RT #129278 (native attributive parameter binding broken) and noted on the RT the less common cases that remain to be fixed
  • Fixed RT #129430 (sigilless parameters were declared too late to use in where clauses)
  • Fixed RT #129827 (sub { 42.return }() ended up being code-gen'd without a return handler)
  • Fixed RT #129772 (poor error reporting when you tried to invoke a native parameter; it blew up code-gen and gave no location info)
  • Tracked down and fixed a pre-comp management bug on Windows due to a file not being closed and then trying to rename over it
  • Fixed RT #129968 (error-reporting crash in the case of redeclaration errors in nested packages)
  • Fixed a bug with augmenting nested classes
  • Fixed RT #129921 (internal warning when producing exception for my $!a)
  • Hunted down a bug in the JIT-compilation of the nqp::exception() op and fixed it
  • Fixed RT #130107 (accidentally treated nread == 0 as an error in a couple of places in MoarVM)
  • Fixed RT #130081 (did not backtrack into a regex TOP in a grammar to try and make it match until the end of the string)
  • Fixed RT #130294 (SEGV that occasionally occurred during some cases of deep recursion)
  • Fixed RT #128516 (SEGV when composing meta-object held in an attribute)
  • Fixed RT #130465 (ignoremark not applied with backslashed literals)
  • Fixed RT #130208 (putting multi-line Pod documentation on a role would pun it)
  • Fixed RT #130615 (code-gen of $a++ in sink context for native $a was a lot slower than in non-sink context)
  • Fixed RT #130637 (two grammar constructs produced malformed NFAs, which gave wrong results or could even SEGV in MoarVM; MoarVM was made to validate NFAs more strongly, which shook out the second issue besides the reported one)
  • Investigated RT #129291 (SEGV involving processes with output of one fed into input of the other); applied likely fix
  • Investigated and fixed an issue with $/ setting, arising from changes to the implementation of match
  • Fixed a bug that occasionally caused spectest crashes; was an interaction between dynamic lexical caching, inlining, deoptimization, and garbage collection
  • Fixed a rare crash related to assignment when the type constraint was a refinement type
  • Fixed MoarVM #120 and #426, in which a failed debug annotation lookup led to boxing a NULL string
  • Fixed a couple of places where dynamic optimization could accidentally trigger garbage collection; the optimizer assumes this can never happen
  • Fixed RT #123989 and RT #125135 (callsame et al could sometimes have the dispatcher stolen by the wrong target invokee)

Other tasks

On top of this, some time was spent reviewing pull requests to Rakudo, NQP, and MoarVM, providing feedback, and merging them when appropriate. I also commented on a range of RT tickets besides those I fixed myself. Various other small cleanups and additions resulted from this work, ranging from typo fixes in comments up to improvements to GC debugging macros added while finding bugs.

1 Comment

I noticed a definite reliability improvement. I used to frequently restart my long-running production apps, but no more. They're stable both in not-crashing sense and in not-nomming-tons-of-RAM sense.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Makoto Nozaki published on April 22, 2017 12:00 AM.

Final Grant Report : Migrating blogs.perl.org - April 2017 was the previous entry in this blog.

Perl 6 IO Grant: April 2017 Report is the next entry in this blog.

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