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dynamically allocating chunks from shared memory

From: Markus Wanner <markus(at)bluegap(dot)ch>
To: PostgreSQL-development Hackers <pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: dynamically allocating chunks from shared memory
Date: 2010-07-02 23:44:46
Message-ID: ab0cd52a64e788f4ecb4515d1e6e4691@localhost (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgsql-hackers

for quite some time, I've been under the impression, that there's still 
one disadvantage left from using processes instead of threads: we can 
only use statically sized chunks of shared memory. Every component that 
wants to use shared memory needs to pre-allocate whatever it thinks is 
sufficient. It cannot enlarge its share, nor can unused memory be 
allocated to other components.

Having written a very primitive kind of a dynamic memory allocator for 
imessages [1], I've always wanted a better alternative. So I've 
investigated a bit, refactored step-by-step, and finally came up with 
the attached, lock based dynamic shared memory allocator. Its interface 
is as simple as malloc() and free(). A restart of the postmaster should 
truncate the whole area.

Being a component which needs to pre-allocate its area in shared memory 
in advance, you need to define a maximum size for the pool of 
dynamically allocatable memory. That's currently defined in shmem.h 
instead of a GUC.

This kind of feature has been requested at the Tokyo Clusting Meeting 
(by myself) in 2009 and is listed on the Wiki [2].

I'm now using that allocator as the basis for a reworked imessages 
patch, which I've attached as well. Both are tested as a basis for 

While I think other components could use this dynamic memory allocator, 
too, I didn't write any code for that. Imessages currently is the only 
user available. (So please apply the dynshmem patch first, then


Greetings from Oxford, and thanks to Joachim Wieland for providing me 
the required Internet connectivity  ;-)

Markus Wanner

[1]: Postgres-R: internal messages

[2]: Mentioned Cluster Feature

For git adicts: here's a git repository with both patches applied:;a=summary

Attachment: dynshmem.20100703.diff
Description: text/x-diff (21.8 KB)
Attachment: imessages.20100703.diff
Description: text/x-diff (13.0 KB)


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