Author neologix
Recipients josh.r, jtaylor, neologix, njs, pitrou, skrah, vstinner
Date 2014-04-27.17:29:04
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> @Charles-Fran├žois: I think your worries about calloc and overcommit are unjustified. First, calloc and malloc+memset actually behave the same way here -- with a large allocation and overcommit enabled, malloc and calloc will both go ahead and return the large allocation, and then the actual out-of-memory (OOM) event won't occur until the memory is accessed. In the malloc+memset case this access will occur immediately after the malloc, during the memset -- but this is still too late for us to detect the malloc failure.

Not really: what you describe only holds for a single object.
But if you allocate let's say 1000 such objects at once:
- in the malloc + memset case, the committed pages are progressively
accessed (i.e. the pages for object N are accessed before the memory
is allocated for object N+1), so they will be counted not only as
committed, but also as active (for example the RSS will increase
gradually): so at some point, even though by default the Linux VM
subsystem is really lenient toward overcommitting, you'll likely have
malloc/mmap return NULL because of this
- in the calloc() case, all the memory is first committed, but not
touched: the kernel will likely happily overcommit all of this. Only
when you start progressively accessing the pages will the OOM kick in.

> Second, OOM does not cause segfaults on any system I know. On Linux it wakes up the OOM killer, which shoots some random (possibly guilty) process in the head. The actual program which triggered the OOM is quite likely to escape unscathed.

Ah, did I say segfault?
Sorry, I of course meant that the process will get nuked by the OOM killer.

> In practice, the *only* cases where you can get a MemoryError on modern systems are (a) if the user has turned overcommit off, (b) you're on a tiny embedded system that doesn't have overcommit, (c) if you run out of virtual address space. None of these cases are affected by the differences between malloc and calloc.

That's a common misconception: provided that the memory allocated is
accessed progressively (see above point), you'll often get ENOMEM,
even with overcommitting:

$ /sbin/sysctl -a | grep overcommit
vm.nr_overcommit_hugepages = 0
vm.overcommit_memory = 0
vm.overcommit_ratio = 50

$ cat /tmp/
l = []

with open('/proc/self/status') as f:
        for i in range(50000000):
    except MemoryError:
        for line in f:
            if 'VmPeak' in line:

$ python /tmp/
VmPeak:   720460 kB

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/tmp/", line 7, in <module>

I have a 32-bit machine, but the process definitely has more than
720MB of address space ;-)

If your statement were true, this would mean that it's almost
impossible to get ENOMEM with overcommitting on a 64-bit machine,
which is - fortunately - not true. Just try python -c "[i for i in
range(<large value>)]" on a 64-bit machine, I'll bet you'll get a
MemoryError (ENOMEM).
Date User Action Args
2014-04-27 17:29:04neologixsetrecipients: + neologix, pitrou, vstinner, njs, skrah, jtaylor, josh.r
2014-04-27 17:29:04neologixlinkissue21233 messages
2014-04-27 17:29:04neologixcreate