Thursday, 28 July 2011

Could Clang displace GCC generally? Part II: Performance of PostgreSQL binaries

This is the second in a two-part series on Clang. If you haven't already, you'll want to read my original post on the topic, Could Clang displace GCC among PostgreSQL developers? Part I: Intro and compile times.

So, what about the performance of PostgreSQL binaries themselves when built with each compiler? I had heard contradictory reports of the performance of binaries built with Clang. In Belgium, Chris Lattner said that Clang built binaries could perform better, but a number of independent benchmarks suggested that Clang was generally behind, with some notable exceptions. I asked 2ndQuadrant colleague and PostgreSQL performance expert Greg Smith to suggest a useful benchmark to serve as a good starting point for comparing Postgres performance when built with Clang to performance when built with GCC. He suggested that I apply Jeff Janes' recent patch for pgbench that he'd reviewed. It stresses the executor, and therefore the CPU quite effectively, rather than table locks or IPC mechanisms. The results of this benchmark were very interesting.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Could Clang displace GCC among PostgreSQL developers? Part I: Intro and compile times

Back in February, I attended FOSDEM, the free and open source software developers' European meeting. Most of my time was spent manning the PostgreSQL stand and networking with fellow members of the community; I often find the “hall track” of conferences is of most interest.

On this occasion though, there was one talk in particular that I really wanted to see: Chris Lattner's “LLVM and Clang: Advancing Compiler Technology”. I was certainly not alone in having the subject pique my interest, as it filled what was apparently Belgium's largest auditorium to capacity, and I was joined by a number of other PostgreSQL people, including some senior community members. Chris' slides are available from here:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/48921683/LLVM-Clang-Advancing-Compiler-Technology