Fine grained allocator

Fine grained allocator implemented by vm_kmalloc() function is the main method of dynamic memory allocation used by the Phoenix-RTOS kernel. The operating system kernel uses dynamic data structures to manage dynamic data structures created during the operating system runtime (e.g. process descriptors, threads descriptors, ports). Size of these structure varies from few bytes to tens of kilobytes. The allocator is able to allocate either the group of memory pages and to manage the fragments allocated within the page.


Fine grained allocator is based on zone allocator. The architecture is presented on the following picture.

Main allocator data structure is sizes[] table. Table entries points to list of zone allocators consisting fragments with sizes proportional to the entry number. Fragments have sizes equal to 2^e where e is the entry number.

Memory allocation

The first step of allocation process is the calculation of entry number. The best fit strategy is used, so the requested size is rounded to the nearest power of two. After calculating the entry number the fragment is allocated from the first zone associated with the entry number.

If the selected entry is empty and there is no empty zones associated with the entry, the new zone is created and added to the list. New zone is added either to sizes[] table and to the zone RB-tree. The zone RB-tree is used to find the proper zone when a fragment is released.

If the allocated fragment is the last free fragment from the zone, the zone is removed from the entry zone list and is linked with the used zones list.

Memory deallocation

When fragment is deallocated the first step is to find proper zone based on its virtual address. The zone RB-tree is searched. When zone is estblished the fragment is releases using vm_zfree() call and returned to the zone. When zone is empty it is released and allocated memory is returned to the operating system pool.