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Common C++ Performance Mistakes in Games Pete Isensee Xbox Advanced Technology Group.

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Presentation on theme: "Common C++ Performance Mistakes in Games Pete Isensee Xbox Advanced Technology Group."— Presentation transcript:

1 Common C++ Performance Mistakes in Games Pete Isensee Xbox Advanced Technology Group

2 About the Data ATG reviews code to find bottlenecks and make perf recommendations –50 titles per year –96% use C++ –1 in 3 use advanced features like templates or generics

3 Why This Talk Is Important The majority of Xbox games are CPU bound The CPU bottleneck is often a language or C++ library issue These issues are not usually specific to the platform

4 Format Definition of the problem Examples Recommendation For reference –A frame is 17 or 33 ms (60fps / 30fps) –Bottlenecks given in ms per frame

5 Issue: STL Game using std::list –Adding ~20,000 objects every frame –Rebuilding the list every frame –Time spent: 6.5 ms/frame! –~156K overhead (2 pointers per node) –Objects spread all over the heap

6 std::set and map Many games use set/map as sorted lists Inserts are slow (log(N)) Memory overhead: 3 ptrs + color Worst case in game: 3.8 ms/frame

7 std::vector Hundreds of push_back()s per frame VS7.1 expands vector by 50% Question: How many reallocations for 100 push_back()s? Answer: 13! (1,2,3,4,5,7,10,14,20,29,43,64,95)

8 Clearly, the STL is Evil

9 Use the Right Tool for the Job The STL is powerful, but its not free Filling any container is expensive Be aware of container overhead Be aware of heap fragmentation and cache coherency Prefer vector, vector::reserve()

10 The STL is Evil, Sometimes The STL doesnt solve every problem The STL solves some problems poorly Sometimes good old C-arrays are the perfect container Mike Abrash puts it well: –The best optimizer is between your ears

11 Issue: NIH Syndrome Example: Custom binary tree –Sorted list of transparent objects –Badly unbalanced –1 ms/frame to add only 400 items Example: Custom dynamic array class –Poorer performance than std::vector –Fewer features

12 Optimizations that Arent void appMemcpy( void* d, const void* s, size_t b ) { // lots of assembly code here... } appMemcpy( pDest, pSrc, 100 ); // bottleneck appMemcpy was slower than memcpy for anything under 64K

13 Invent Only What You Need std::set/map more efficient than the custom tree by 10X –Tested and proven –Still high overhead An even better solution –Unsorted vector or array –Sort once –20X improvement

14 Profile Run your profiler –Rinse. Repeat. –Prove the improvement. Dont rewrite the C runtime or STL just because you can. There are more interesting places to spend your time.

15 Issue: Tool Knowledge If youre a programmer, you use C/C++ every day C++ is complex CRT and STL libraries are complex The complexities matter Sometimes they really matter

16 vector::clear Game reused global vector in frame loop clear() called every frame to empty the vector C++ Standard –clear() erases all elements (size() goes to 0) –No mention of what happens to vector capacity On VS7.1/Dinkumware, frees the memory Every frame reallocated memory

17 Zero-Initialization struct Array { int x[1000]; }; struct Container { Array arr; Container() : arr() { } }; Container x; // bottleneck Costing 3.5 ms/frame Removing : arr() speeds this by 20X

18 Know Thine Holy Standard Use resize(0) to reduce container size without affecting capacity T() means zero-initialize PODs. Dont use T() unless you mean it. Get a copy of the C++ Standard. Really. –; search on –Only $18 for the PDF

19 Issue: C Runtime void BuildScore( char* s, int n ) { if( n > 0 ) sprintf( s, %d, n ); else sprintf( s, ); } n was often zero sprintf was a hotspot

20 qsort Sorting is important in games qsort is not an ideal sorting function –No type safety –Comparison function call overhead –No opportunity for compiler inlining There are faster options

21 Clearly, the CRT is Evil

22 Understand Your Options itoa() can replace sprintf( s, %d, n ) *s = \0 can replace sprintf( s, ) std::sort can replace qsort –Type safe –Comparison can be inlined Other sorting options can be even faster: partial_sort, partition

23 Issue: Function Calls 50, ,000 calls/frame is normal At 60Hz, Xbox has 12.2M cycles/frame Function call/return averages 20 cycles A game calling 61,000 functions/frame spends 10% CPU (1.7 ms/frame) in function call overhead

24 Extreme Function-ality 120,000 functions/frame 140,000 functions/frame 130,000 calls to a single function/frame (ColumnVec ::operator[]) And the winner: –340,000 calls per frame! –9 ms/frame of call overhead

25 Beware Elegance Elegance levels of indirection more functions perf impact Use algorithmic solutions first –One pass through the world –Better object rejection –Do AI/physics/networking less often than once/frame

26 Inline Judiciously Remember: inline is a suggestion Try inline any suitable compiler option –15 to 20 fps –68,000 calls down to 47,000 Try __forceinline or similar keyword –Adding to 5 funcs shaved 1.5 ms/frame Dont over-inline

27 Issue: for loops // Example 1: Copy indices to push buffer for( DWORD i = 0; i < dwIndexCnt; ++i ) *pPushBuffer++ = arrIndices[ i ]; // Example 2: Initialize vector array for( DWORD i = 0; i < dwMax; ++i ) mVectorArr[i] = XGVECTOR4(0,0,0,0); // Example 3: Process items in world for( itr i = c.begin(); i < c.end(); ++i ) Process( *i );

28 Watch Out For For Never copy/clear a POD with a for loop std::algorithms are optimized; use them memcpy( pPushBuffer, arrIndices, dwIndexCnt * sizeof(DWORD) ); memset( mVectorArr, 0, dwMax * sizeof(XGVECTOR4) ); for_each( c.begin(), c.end(), Process );

29 Issue: Exception Handling Most games never throw Most games never catch Yet, most games enable EH EH adds code to do stack unwinding –A little bit of overhead to a lot of code –10% size increase is common –2 ms/frame in worst case

30 Disable Exception Handling Dont throw or catch exceptions Turn off the C++ EH compiler option For Dinkumware STL –Define _HAS_EXCEPTIONS=0 –Write empty _Throw and _Raise_handler; see stdthrow.cpp and raisehan.cpp in crt folder –Add #pragma warning(disable: 4530)

31 Issue: Strings Programmers love strings Love hurts ~7000 calls to stricmp in frame loop –1.5 ms/frame Binary search of a string table –2 ms/frame

32 Avoid strings String comparisons dont belong in the frame loop Put strings in an table and compare indices At least optimize the comparison –Compare pointers only –Prefer strcmp to stricmp

33 Issue: Memory Allocation Memory overhead –Xbox granularity/overhead is 16/16 bytes –Overhead alone is often 1+ MB Too many allocations –Games commonly do thousands of allocations per frame –Cost: 1-5 ms/frame

34 Hidden Allocations push_back(), insert() and friends typically allocate memory String constructors allocate Init-style calls often allocate Temporary objects, particularly string constants that convert to string objects

35 Minimize Per-Frame Allocations Use memory-friendly data structures, e.g. arrays, vectors Reserve memory in advance Use custom allocators –Pool same-size allocations in a single block of memory to avoid overhead Use the explicit keyword to avoid hidden temporaries Avoid strings

36 Other Tidbits Compiler settings: experiment dynamic_cast: just say no Constructors: performance killers Unused static array space: track this Loop unrolling: huge wins, sometimes Suspicious comments: watch out –Immensely slow matrix multiplication

37 Wrap Up Use the Right Tool for the Job The STL is Evil, Sometimes Invent Only What You Need Profile Know Thine Holy Standard Understand Your Options Beware Elegance Inline Judiciously Watch Out For For Disable Exception Handling Avoid Strings Minimize Per-frame Allocations

38 Call to Action: Evolve! Pass the rubber chicken –Share your C++ performance mistakes with your team Mentor junior programmers –So they only make new mistakes Dont stop learning –You can never know enough C++

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