Pro .NET Memory Management – For Better Code, Performance, and Scalability

Pro .NET Memory Management - For Better Code, Performance, and Scalability

The content of the book presents as follows. Chapter 1 is a very general theoretical introduction to memory management, without almost any reference to .NET in particular. Chapter 2 is similarly a general introduction to memory management on the hardware and operating system level. Both chapters may be treated as an important, yet optional introduction. They give a helpful, broader look at the topic, useful in the rest of the book. While I obviously and strongly encourage you to read them, you may omit them if you are in a hurry or interested only in the most practical, .NET-related topics. A note to advanced readers – even if you think topics from those two first chapters are well known to you, please read them. I’ve tried to include there not only obvious information, which you may find interesting.

Chapter 3 is solely dedicated to measurements and various tools (among which some are very often used later in the book). It is a reading that contains mainly a list of tools and how to use them. If you are interested mostly in the theoretical part of the book, you may only skim through it briefly. On the other hand, if you plan to use the knowledge of this book intensively in the diagnosis of problems, you will probably come back to this chapter often.

Chapter 4 is the first one where we start talking about .NET intensively, while still in a general way allowing us to understand some relevant internals like .NET type system (including value type versus reference type), string interning, or static data. If you are really in a hurry, you may wish to start reading from there. Chapter 5 described the first truly memory-related topic – how memory is organized in .NET applications, introducing the concept of Small and Large Object Heap, as well as segments. Chapter 6 is going further into memory-related internals, dedicated solely to allocating memory. Quite surprisingly, quite a big chapter may be dedicated to such a theoretically simple topic. An important and big part of this chapter is the description of various sources of allocations, in the context of avoiding them.

Chapters from 7 to 10 are core parts describing how the GC works in .NET, with practical examples and considerations resulting from such knowledge. To not overwhelm with too much information provided at the same time, those chapters are describing the simplest flavor of the GC – so-called Workstation Non-Concurrent one. On the other hand, Chapter 11 is dedicated to describing all other flavors with comprehensive considerations that one can choose. Chapter 12 concludes the GC part of the book, describing three important mechanisms: finalization, disposable objects, and weak references.

The three last chapters constitute the “advanced” part of the book, in the sense of explaining how things work beyond the core part of .NET memory management. Chapter 13 explains, for example, the topic of managed pointers and goes deeper into structs (including recently added ref structs). Chapter 14 puts a lot of attention to types and techniques gaining more and more popularity recently, like Span<T> and Memory<T> types. There is also a smart section dedicated to the not-so-well known topic of dataoriented design and, few words about incoming C# features (like nullable reference types and pipelines). Chapter 15, the last one, describes various ways how we can control and monitor the GC from code, including GC class API, CLR Hosting, or ClrMD library.

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