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Moving readVInt to C

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Moving readVInt to C

· Java Zone ·
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FlexNet Code Aware, a free scan tool for developers. Scan Java, NuGet, and NPM packages for open source security and open source license compliance issues.

By far the hottest spot in Lucene during searching is the method (DataInput.readVInt) that decodes Lucene's variable-length integer representation (vInt). This method is called an insane number of times, while iterating the postings lists (docs, freqs, positions), during query execution.

This representation is not CPU friendly: for every single byte read, the CPU hits a hard-to-predict if statement (testing the high bit). Alternative block-based formats do a good job reducing branches while decoding, such as these encodings (PFOR-DELTA is currently an experimental codec attached as a patch on LUCENE-1410) or Google's Group Varint.

Anyway, I decided to test whether porting readVInt to C would gives us a performance boost. I had known the overhead of JNI was highish in the past, but I was hoping in modern JREs this had been improved.

Unfortunately, it wasn't: I see a ~10%-~40% slowdown, depending on the query. Likely hotspot's inability to inline native methods is also a factor here. Perhaps, if/when we switch to a block-based codec, we'll see a gain with a native implementation, since the amortized overhead of invoking JNI will be lower.

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