Taming Dynamic Memory - An Introduction to Custom Allocators

By Andreas Weis

Dynamic memory allocation is a feature that is often taken for granted. Most developers use some form of new or malloc every day, usually without worrying too much what goes on behind the scenes. But what about those situations where the built-in mechanisms are not good enough, be it for reasons of performance, safety, or due to restrictions of the target hardware?

In this talk we will explore how custom allocators can be used to overcome those issues. We will explain how basic allocation techniques like pooling and monotonic allocation behave with regards to performance and reliability. We will take a look at some of the technical challenges behind allocators, like the different forms of alignment and the way that the standard library manages stateful allocators. And finally we will take a look at some popular allocator implementations and how to integrate them with a modern C++ codebase.