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MALLOC(3)		 BSD Library Functions Manual		     MALLOC(3)

     malloc, calloc, realloc, free, reallocf, malloc_usable_size -- general
     purpose memory allocation functions

     Standard C	Library	(libc, -lc)

     #include <stdlib.h>

     void *
     malloc(size_t size);

     void *
     calloc(size_t number, size_t size);

     void *
     realloc(void *ptr,	size_t size);

     void *
     reallocf(void *ptr, size_t	size);

     free(void *ptr);

     const char	* _malloc_options;

     (*_malloc_message)(const char *p1,	const char *p2,	const char *p3,
	 const char *p4);

     #include <malloc_np.h>

     malloc_usable_size(const void *ptr);

     The malloc() function allocates size bytes	of uninitialized memory.  The
     allocated space is	suitably aligned (after	possible pointer coercion) for
     storage of	any type of object.

     The calloc() function allocates space for number objects, each size bytes
     in	length.	 The result is identical to calling malloc() with an argument
     of	"number	* size", with the exception that the allocated memory is ex-
     plicitly initialized to zero bytes.

     The realloc() function changes the	size of	the previously allocated mem-
     ory referenced by ptr to size bytes.  The contents	of the memory are un-
     changed up	to the lesser of the new and old sizes.	 If the	new size is
     larger, the contents of the newly allocated portion of the	memory are un-
     defined.  Upon success, the memory	referenced by ptr is freed and a
     pointer to	the newly allocated memory is returned.	 Note that realloc()
     and reallocf() may	move the memory	allocation, resulting in a different
     return value than ptr.  If	ptr is NULL, the realloc() function behaves
     identically to malloc() for the specified size.

     The reallocf() function is	identical to the realloc() function, except
     that it will free the passed pointer when the requested memory cannot be
     allocated.	 This is a FreeBSD specific API	designed to ease the problems
     with traditional coding styles for	realloc	causing	memory leaks in	li-

     The free()	function causes	the allocated memory referenced	by ptr to be
     made available for	future allocations.  If	ptr is NULL, no	action occurs.

     The malloc_usable_size() function returns the usable size of the alloca-
     tion pointed to by	ptr.  The return value may be larger than the size
     that was requested	during allocation.  The	malloc_usable_size() function
     is	not a mechanism	for in-place realloc();	rather it is provided solely
     as	a tool for introspection purposes.  Any	discrepancy between the	re-
     quested allocation	size and the size reported by malloc_usable_size()
     should not	be depended on,	since such behavior is entirely	implementa-

     Once, when	the first call is made to one of these memory allocation rou-
     tines, various flags will be set or reset,	which affect the workings of
     this allocator implementation.

     The "name"	of the file referenced by the symbolic link named
     /etc/malloc.conf, the value of the	environment variable MALLOC_OPTIONS,
     and the string pointed to by the global variable _malloc_options will be
     interpreted, in that order, from left to right as flags.

     Each flag is a single letter, optionally prefixed by a non-negative base
     10	integer	repetition count.  For example,	"3N" is	equivalent to "NNN".
     Some flags	control	parameter magnitudes, where uppercase increases	the
     magnitude,	and lowercase decreases	the magnitude.	Other flags control
     boolean parameters, where uppercase indicates that	a behavior is set, or
     on, and lowercase means that a behavior is	not set, or off.

     A	     All warnings (except for the warning about	unknown	flags being
	     set) become fatal.	 The process will call abort(3)	in these

     B	     Double/halve the per-arena	lock contention	threshold at which a
	     thread is randomly	re-assigned to an arena.  This dynamic load
	     balancing tends to	push threads away from highly contended	are-
	     nas, which	avoids worst case contention scenarios in which
	     threads disproportionately	utilize	arenas.	 However, due to the
	     highly dynamic load that applications may place on	the allocator,
	     it	is impossible for the allocator	to know	in advance how sensi-
	     tive it should be to contention over arenas.  Therefore, some ap-
	     plications	may benefit from increasing or decreasing this thresh-
	     old parameter.  This option is not	available for some configura-
	     tions (non-PIC).

     D	     Use sbrk(2) to acquire memory in the data storage segment (DSS).
	     This option is enabled by default.	 See the "M" option for	re-
	     lated information and interactions.

     F	     Double/halve the per-arena	maximum	number of dirty	unused pages
	     that are allowed to accumulate before informing the kernel	about
	     at	least half of those pages via madvise(2).  This	provides the
	     kernel with sufficient information	to recycle dirty pages if
	     physical memory becomes scarce and	the pages remain unused.  The
	     default is	512 pages per arena; MALLOC_OPTIONS=10f	will prevent
	     any dirty unused pages from accumulating.

     H	     Obsoleted by the "F" option.  MALLOC_OPTIONS=H sets the per-arena
	     maximum number of dirty unused pages to 0,	and MALLOC_OPTIONS=h
	     resets the	per-arena maximum number of dirty unused pages to the
	     default.  This option will	be removed in FreeBSD 8.0.

     J	     Each byte of new memory allocated by malloc(), realloc() or
	     reallocf()	will be	initialized to 0xa5.  All memory returned by
	     free(), realloc() or reallocf() will be initialized to 0x5a.
	     This is intended for debugging and	will impact performance	nega-

     K	     Double/halve the virtual memory chunk size.  The default chunk
	     size is 1 MB.

     M	     Use mmap(2) to acquire anonymously	mapped memory.	This option is
	     enabled by	default.  If both the "D" and "M" options are enabled,
	     the allocator prefers anonymous mappings over the DSS, but	allo-
	     cation only fails if memory cannot	be acquired via	either method.
	     If	neither	option is enabled, then	the "M"	option is implicitly
	     enabled in	order to assure	that there is a	method for acquiring

     N	     Double/halve the number of	arenas.	 The default number of arenas
	     is	four times the number of CPUs, or one if there is a single

     P	     Various statistics	are printed at program exit via	an atexit(3)
	     function.	This has the potential to cause	deadlock for a multi-
	     threaded process that exits while one or more threads are execut-
	     ing in the	memory allocation functions.  Therefore, this option
	     should only be used with care; it is primarily intended as	a per-
	     formance tuning aid during	application development.

     Q	     Double/halve the size of the allocation quantum.  The default
	     quantum is	the minimum allowed by the architecture	(typically 8
	     or	16 bytes).

     S	     Double/halve the size of the maximum size class that is a multi-
	     ple of the	quantum.  Above	this size, power-of-two	spacing	is
	     used for size classes.  The default value is 512 bytes.

     U	     Generate "utrace" entries for ktrace(1), for all operations.
	     Consult the source	for details on this option.

     V	     Attempting	to allocate zero bytes will return a NULL pointer in-
	     stead of a	valid pointer.	(The default behavior is to make a
	     minimal allocation	and return a pointer to	it.)  This option is
	     provided for System V compatibility.  This	option is incompatible
	     with the "X" option.

     X	     Rather than return	failure	for any	allocation function, display a
	     diagnostic	message	on stderr and cause the	program	to drop	core
	     (using abort(3)).	This option should be set at compile time by
	     including the following in	the source code:

		   _malloc_options = "X";

     Z	     Each byte of new memory allocated by malloc(), realloc() or
	     reallocf()	will be	initialized to 0.  Note	that this initializa-
	     tion only happens once for	each byte, so realloc()	and reallocf()
	     calls do not zero memory that was previously allocated.  This is
	     intended for debugging and	will impact performance	negatively.

     The "J" and "Z" options are intended for testing and debugging.  An ap-
     plication which changes its behavior when these options are used is

     Traditionally, allocators have used sbrk(2) to obtain memory, which is
     suboptimal	for several reasons, including race conditions,	increased
     fragmentation, and	artificial limitations on maximum usable memory.  This
     allocator uses both sbrk(2) and mmap(2) by	default, but it	can be config-
     ured at run time to use only one or the other.  If	resource limits	are
     not a primary concern, the	preferred configuration	is MALLOC_OPTIONS=dM
     or	MALLOC_OPTIONS=DM.  When so configured,	the datasize resource limit
     has little	practical effect for typical applications; use
     MALLOC_OPTIONS=Dm if that is a concern.  Regardless of allocator configu-
     ration, the vmemoryuse resource limit can be used to bound	the total vir-
     tual memory used by a process, as described in limits(1).

     This allocator uses multiple arenas in order to reduce lock contention
     for threaded programs on multi-processor systems.	This works well	with
     regard to threading scalability, but incurs some costs.  There is a small
     fixed per-arena overhead, and additionally, arenas	manage memory com-
     pletely independently of each other, which	means a	small fixed increase
     in	overall	memory fragmentation.  These overheads are not generally an
     issue, given the number of	arenas normally	used.  Note that using sub-
     stantially	more arenas than the default is	not likely to improve perfor-
     mance, mainly due to reduced cache	performance.  However, it may make
     sense to reduce the number	of arenas if an	application does not make much
     use of the	allocation functions.

     Memory is conceptually broken into	equal-sized chunks, where the chunk
     size is a power of	two that is greater than the page size.	 Chunks	are
     always aligned to multiples of the	chunk size.  This alignment makes it
     possible to find metadata for user	objects	very quickly.

     User objects are broken into three	categories according to	size: small,
     large, and	huge.  Small objects are no larger than	one half of a page.
     Large objects are smaller than the	chunk size.  Huge objects are a	multi-
     ple of the	chunk size.  Small and large objects are managed by arenas;
     huge objects are managed separately in a single data structure that is
     shared by all threads.  Huge objects are used by applications infre-
     quently enough that this single data structure is not a scalability is-

     Each chunk	that is	managed	by an arena tracks its contents	as runs	of
     contiguous	pages (unused, backing a set of	small objects, or backing one
     large object).  The combination of	chunk alignment	and chunk page maps
     makes it possible to determine all	metadata regarding small and large al-
     locations in constant and logarithmic time, respectively.

     Small objects are managed in groups by page runs.	Each run maintains a
     bitmap that tracks	which regions are in use.  Allocation requests that
     are no more than half the quantum (see the	"Q" option) are	rounded	up to
     the nearest power of two (typically 2, 4, or 8).  Allocation requests
     that are more than	half the quantum, but no more than the maximum quan-
     tum-multiple size class (see the "S" option) are rounded up to the	near-
     est multiple of the quantum.  Allocation requests that are	larger than
     the maximum quantum-multiple size class, but no larger than one half of a
     page, are rounded up to the nearest power of two.	Allocation requests
     that are larger than half of a page, but small enough to fit in an	arena-
     managed chunk (see	the "K"	option), are rounded up	to the nearest run
     size.  Allocation requests	that are too large to fit in an	arena-managed
     chunk are rounded up to the nearest multiple of the chunk size.

     Allocations are packed tightly together, which can	be an issue for	multi-
     threaded applications.  If	you need to assure that	allocations do not
     suffer from cache line sharing, round your	allocation requests up to the
     nearest multiple of the cache line	size.

     The first thing to	do is to set the "A" option.  This option forces a
     coredump (if possible) at the first sign of trouble, rather than the nor-
     mal policy	of trying to continue if at all	possible.

     It	is probably also a good	idea to	recompile the program with suitable
     options and symbols for debugger support.

     If	the program starts to give unusual results, coredump or	generally be-
     have differently without emitting any of the messages mentioned in	the
     next section, it is likely	because	it depends on the storage being	filled
     with zero bytes.  Try running it with the "Z" option set; if that im-
     proves the	situation, this	diagnosis has been confirmed.  If the program
     still misbehaves, the likely problem is accessing memory outside the al-
     located area.

     Alternatively, if the symptoms are	not easy to reproduce, setting the "J"
     option may	help provoke the problem.

     In	truly difficult	cases, the "U" option, if supported by the kernel, can
     provide a detailed	trace of all calls made	to these functions.

     Unfortunately this	implementation does not	provide	much detail about the
     problems it detects; the performance impact for storing such information
     would be prohibitive.  There are a	number of allocator implementations
     available on the Internet which focus on detecting	and pinpointing	prob-
     lems by trading performance for extra sanity checks and detailed diagnos-

     If	any of the memory allocation/deallocation functions detect an error or
     warning condition,	a message will be printed to file descriptor
     STDERR_FILENO.  Errors will result	in the process dumping core.  If the
     "A" option	is set,	all warnings are treated as errors.

     The _malloc_message variable allows the programmer	to override the	func-
     tion which	emits the text strings forming the errors and warnings if for
     some reason the stderr file descriptor is not suitable for	this.  Please
     note that doing anything which tries to allocate memory in	this function
     is	likely to result in a crash or deadlock.

     All messages are prefixed by "<progname>: (malloc)".

     The malloc() and calloc() functions return	a pointer to the allocated
     memory if successful; otherwise a NULL pointer is returned	and errno is
     set to ENOMEM.

     The realloc() and reallocf() functions return a pointer, possibly identi-
     cal to ptr, to the	allocated memory if successful;	otherwise a NULL
     pointer is	returned, and errno is set to ENOMEM if	the error was the re-
     sult of an	allocation failure.  The realloc() function always leaves the
     original buffer intact when an error occurs, whereas reallocf() deallo-
     cates it in this case.

     The free()	function returns no value.

     The malloc_usable_size() function returns the usable size of the alloca-
     tion pointed to by	ptr.

     The following environment variables affect	the execution of the alloca-
     tion functions:

     MALLOC_OPTIONS  If	the environment	variable MALLOC_OPTIONS	is set,	the
		     characters	it contains will be interpreted	as flags to
		     the allocation functions.

     To	dump core whenever a problem occurs:

	   ln -s 'A' /etc/malloc.conf

     To	specify	in the source that a program does no return value checking on
     calls to these functions:

	   _malloc_options = "X";

     limits(1),	madvise(2), mmap(2), sbrk(2), alloca(3), atexit(3),
     getpagesize(3), memory(3),	posix_memalign(3)

     The malloc(), calloc(), realloc() and free() functions conform to ISO/IEC
     9899:1990 ("ISO C90").

     The reallocf() function first appeared in FreeBSD 3.0.

     The malloc_usable_size() function first appeared in FreeBSD 7.0.

BSD			       February	17, 2008			   BSD


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