Stopwatch under the hood



In the previous post, we discussed DateTime. This structure can be used in situations when you don't need a good level of precision. If you want to do high-precision time measurements, you need a better tool because DateTime has a small resolution and a big latency. Also, time is tricky, you can create wonderful bugs if you don't understand how it works (see Falsehoods programmers believe about time and More falsehoods programmers believe about time).

In this post, we will briefly talk about the Stopwatch class:

  • Which kind of hardware timers could be a base for Stopwatch
  • High precision timestamp API on Windows and Linux
  • Latency and Resolution of Stopwatch in different environments
  • Common pitfalls: which kind of problems could we get trying to measure small time intervals

If you are not a .NET developer, you can also find a lot of useful information in this post: mainly we will discuss low-level details of high-resolution timestamping (probably your favorite language also uses the same API). As usual, you can also find useful links for further reading.

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DateTime under the hood



DateTime is a widely used .NET type. A lot of developers use it all the time, but not all of them really know how it works. In this post, I discuss DateTime.UtcNow: how it's implemented, what the latency and the resolution of DateTime on Windows and Linux, how the resolution can be changed, and how it can affect your application. This post is an overview, so you probably will not see super detailed explanations of some topics, but you will find a lot of useful links for further reading.

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LegacyJIT-x86 and first method call



Today I tell you about one of my favorite benchmarks (this method doesn't return a useful value, we need it only as an example):

[Benchmark]
public string Sum()
{
    double a = 1, b = 1;
    var sw = new Stopwatch();
    for (int i = 0; i < 10001; i++)
        a = a + b;
    return string.Format("{0}{1}", a, sw.ElapsedMilliseconds);
}

An interesting fact: if you call Stopwatch.GetTimestamp() before the first call of the Sum method, you improve Sum performance several times (works only with LegacyJIT-x86).

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Visual Studio and ProjectTypeGuids.cs



It's a story about how I tried to open a project in Visual Studio for a few hours. The other day, I was going to do some work. I pulled last commits from a repo, opened Visual Studio, and prepared to start coding. However, one of a project in my solution failed to open with a strange message:

error  : The operation could not be completed.

In the Solution Explorer, I had "load failed" as a project status and the following message instead of the file tree: "The project requires user input. Reload the project for more information." Hmm, ok, I reloaded the project and got a few more errors:

error  : The operation could not be completed.
error  : The operation could not be completed.

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Blittable types



Challenge of the day: what will the following code display?

[StructLayout(LayoutKind.Explicit)]
public struct UInt128
{
    [FieldOffset(0)]
    public ulong Value1;
    [FieldOffset(8)]
    public ulong Value2;
}
[StructLayout(LayoutKind.Sequential)]
public struct MyStruct
{
    public UInt128 UInt128;
    public char Char;
}
class Program
{
    public static unsafe void Main()
    {
        var myStruct = new MyStruct();
        var baseAddress = (int)&myStruct;
        var uInt128Adress = (int)&myStruct.UInt128;
        Console.WriteLine(uInt128Adress - baseAddress);
        Console.WriteLine(Marshal.OffsetOf(typeof(MyStruct), "UInt128"));
    }
}

A hint: two zeros or two another same values are wrong answers in the general case. The following table shows the console output on different runtimes:

MS.NET-x86MS.NET-x64Mono
uInt128Adress - baseAddress 480
Marshal.OffsetOf(typeof(MyStruct), "UInt128")000

If you want to know why it happens, you probably should learn some useful information about blittable types.

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RyuJIT RC and constant folding



Update: The below results are valid for the release version of RyuJIT.

The challenge of the day: which method is faster?

public double Sqrt13()
{
    return Math.Sqrt(1) + Math.Sqrt(2) + Math.Sqrt(3) + Math.Sqrt(4) + Math.Sqrt(5) + 
           Math.Sqrt(6) + Math.Sqrt(7) + Math.Sqrt(8) + Math.Sqrt(9) + Math.Sqrt(10) + 
           Math.Sqrt(11) + Math.Sqrt(12) + Math.Sqrt(13);
}
public double Sqrt14()
{
    return Math.Sqrt(1) + Math.Sqrt(2) + Math.Sqrt(3) + Math.Sqrt(4) + Math.Sqrt(5) + 
           Math.Sqrt(6) + Math.Sqrt(7) + Math.Sqrt(8) + Math.Sqrt(9) + Math.Sqrt(10) + 
           Math.Sqrt(11) + Math.Sqrt(12) + Math.Sqrt(13) + Math.Sqrt(14);
}

I have measured the methods performance with help of BenchmarkDotNet for RyuJIT RC (a part of .NET Framework 4.6 RC) and received the following results:

// BenchmarkDotNet=v0.7.4.0
// OS=Microsoft Windows NT 6.2.9200.0
// Processor=Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4702MQ CPU @ 2.20GHz, ProcessorCount=8
// CLR=MS.NET 4.0.30319.0, Arch=64-bit  [RyuJIT]
Common:  Type=Math_DoubleSqrtAvx  Mode=Throughput  Platform=X64  Jit=RyuJit  .NET=Current  

Method | AvrTime | StdDev | op/s | ------- |--------- |---------- |------------- | Sqrt13 | 55.40 ns | 0.571 ns | 18050993.06 | Sqrt14 | 1.43 ns | 0.0224 ns | 697125029.18 |

How so? If I add one more Math.Sqrt to the expression, the method starts work 40 times faster! Let's examine the situation..

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Unrolling of small loops in different JIT versions



Challenge of the day: what will the following code display?

struct Point
{
    public int X;
    public int Y;
}
static void Print(Point p)
{
    Console.WriteLine(p.X + " " + p.Y);
}
static void Main()
{
    var p = new Point();
    for (p.X = 0; p.X < 2; p.X++)
        Print(p);
}

The right answer: it depends. There is a bug in CLR2 JIT-x86 which spoil this wonderful program. This story is about optimization that called unrolling of small loops. This is a very interesting theme, let's discuss it in detail.

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RyuJIT CTP5 and loop unrolling



RyuJIT will be available soon. It is a next generation JIT-compiler for .NET-applications. Microsoft likes to tell us about the benefits of SIMD using and JIT-compilation time reducing. But what about basic code optimization which is usually applying by a compiler? Today we talk about the loop unrolling (unwinding) optimization. In general, in this type of code optimization, the code

for (int i = 0; i < 1024; i++)
    Foo(i);

transforms to

for (int i = 0; i < 1024; i += 4)
{
    Foo(i);
    Foo(i + 1);
    Foo(i + 2);
    Foo(i + 3);
}

Such approach can significantly increase performance of your code. So, what's about loop unrolling in .NET?

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JIT version determining in runtime



Sometimes I want to know used JIT compiler version in my little C# experiments. It is clear that it is possible to determine the version in advance based on the environment. However, sometimes I want to know it in runtime to perform specific code for the current JIT compiler. More formally, I want to get the value from the following enum:

public enum JitVersion
{
    Mono, MsX86, MsX64, RyuJit
}

It is easy to detect Mono by existing of the Mono.Runtime class. Otherwise, we can assume that we work with Microsoft JIT implementation. It is easy to detect JIT-x86 with help of IntPtr.Size == 4. The challenge is to distinguish JIT-x64 and RyuJIT. Next, I will show how you can do it with help of the bug from my previous post.

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A bug story about JIT-x64



Can you say, what will the following code display for step=1?

public void Foo(int step)
{
    for (int i = 0; i < step; i++)
    {
        bar = i + 10;
        for (int j = 0; j < 2 * step; j += step)
            Console.WriteLine(j + 10);
    }
}

If you think about specific numbers, you are wrong. The right answer: it depends. The post title suggests to us, the program can has a strange behavior for x64.

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