Well, this is my first post in this technology series. In fact, the
title of this post, forced me to start of a technology focused blog.
Well said about all these, let's now jump into the issue.
has been a lot of heated discussion on different forums, newsgroups,
and various other threads about the above topic. Now why should I
discuss about the same again here?
Well, though there are many
discussion groups that claim C++ to be faster and efficient, a small
group of people still claim C# to be more efficient.
How the hell can a language that is not compiled to a native code be faster that a C++ binary?
the above statement is perfectly valid from the point of C++
programmers, I would like to highlight a few points that could state
why some (not all) C# programs are *really faster* than it's equivalent
C# is compiled twice. Once while the program is written and second when
the program is executed at the user's site. The first compilation is
done by your C# builder and the second by the .NET Framework on the
user's machine. The reason why C# compiled applications could be faster
is that, during the second compilation, the compiler knows the actual
run-time environment and processor type and could generate instructions
that targets a specific processor. Classical C++ compilers generate
native code that is usually the Lowest Common Denominator of all the
available processors which means, a C++ program will not be able to
take the advantages of the "Hyper Threading" instruction set of the
Pentium 4 HT processor. (Of course HT is outdated now...) It will also
not be able to take advantages of the Core 2 duo or Core 2 Quad's "true
multi-threaded" instruction set as the compiler generated native code
does not even know about these instruction sets.
In the earlier
days, not much changes were introduced to the instruction set with
every processor release. The advancement in the processor was only in
the speed and very few additional instruction sets with every release.
Intel or AMD normally expects game developers to use these additional
instruction sets. But with the advent of PIV and then on, with every
release, PIV, PIV HT, Core, Core 2, Core 2 Quad, Extreme, and the
latest Penryn, there are additional instruction sets that could be
utilized if your application needs performance. There are C++ compilers
that generate code that targets specific processors. But the
disadvantage is the application has to be tagged as "This application's
minimum system requirements are atleast a Core 2 Quad processor" which
means a lot of customers will start to run away.
This is precisely
where the C#'s framework compiler comes into picture. Because the
application is compiled the second time at the user's site, the
Framework knows about the actual running platform and is able to
generate code that runs the best on the given platform.
Point 2: So, then why doesn't *all* C# programs run faster?
or for that matter any .NET based application runs in a sand-boxed
environment and hence many instructions have to be checked for safety.
Because additional safety is not free, C# comes with a performance
overhead, which means a program like,
// pig function
Pig_Function() is a really time consuming operation, C++ is faster by a
order of magnitude. Nearly all the threads I've seen that claims C++ is
faster writes a small application like this a prove that C++ is atleast
n times faster than an equivalent c++ program and yes it's true.
Microsoft does not recommend using C# for time-critical applications.
Point 3: So when is C# really faster?
well designed C# program is more than 90% as fast as an equivalent
"well-designed" C++ program. But the catch is "well-designing" a C++
program. How many of us can manage memory efficiently in a C++
application that's so huge say a million lines of code? It's extremely
difficult to "well-design" a C++ program especially when the program
grows larger. The problem with "not-freeing" the memory at the right
time is that the working set of the application increases which
increases the number of "page faults". Everyone knows that page fault
is one of the most time-consuming operation as it requires a hard disk
access. One page fault and you are dead. Any optimization that you did
spending your hours of time is wasted in this page fault because you
did not "free" memory that you no longer needed. A lot of classical
applications including Google Picasa suffers from memory management
problems. After about two or three days, you can notice that these
applications become slower necessitating a Windows Restart. This
problem is completely alleviated in C#. the Framework comes with a
broom behind you and sweeps your drop during the course of the
execution and as a result your working set never grows (unless you
really use it) which means lesser page faults. This means that
"well-designing" a C++ program is far complicated than a equivalent C#
program which is responsible for its sluggish performance.
So now I can hear you asking me,
So to conclude what should I do?
That's a nice question. Except for writing time-critical blocks of code, prefer C#. Write all your algorithmic code in C++ (not
VC++ .NET), compile it into a dll and call that using a Dll Interop
through C#. This should balance the performance. This technique is not
new or not invented by me or anyone. It's similar the old age C
programming vs Assembly, where people on one camp fight assembly
programming is faster and the other camp stating C is easier to develop
and then people started using assembly embedded within a C program for
time-critical applications using an asm block.
Originally Posted at my blog
Nothing much here.