Project Description
This project is a custom CLR host that can provide significant performance improvements for applications that consume large amounts of memory. This is accomplished by locking all CLR-allocated pages into physical memory. If enough physical memory is available, running an application under this host can guarantee that paging will not occur even if other applications on the system are allocating and deallocating memory continuously.

What Is This Project About?
This project features a custom CLR host that can be used for executing any existing .NET application with little or no modification. This custom CLR host ensures that all memory given out to the CLR is locked into physical memory if possible, thus eliminating paging completely.

This can provide two important and distinct advantages to server and client applications alike:
  1. Applications will benefit from no paging during normal operation. Even if other applications are actively allocating memory, allocations performed under the non-paged CLR host will be locked into physical memory.
  2. No paging will occur when the application is idle, providing a great benefit to low-latency processes such as GUI applications (even if the user has fallen asleep in front of the monitor). The normal working set management scheme employed by Windows will not affect processes running under the non-paged CLR host.

Availability
The non-paged CLR host is available in x86 (32-bit) and x64 (64-bit) builds. You can compile your own flavor for Windows 2000 and above on any supported processor. Please note that this is a preliminary version that has not been extensively tested, so we recommend that you use it in a controlled environment.

Usage
Using the non-paged CLR host is extremely simple. The current host consists of a console application that executes an assembly passed to it via the command line. The only constraint imposed on the code to be executed is that it must reside in a static method which returns an int and accepts a string as a parameter (note: not string[]), such as the following method:

public static int Main(string str)
{
return str.Length;
}

Assuming that this method is placed in a class called Program that resides in an assembly called TestHost, the following command line can be used to execute it:

AweClrHostWin32Release.exe TestHost.dll Program Main

You can also pass the parameter to the Main method on the same command line. It defaults to the minimum working set size reservation that the host has been able to reserve for the process (as a string).

Implementation
From an implementation perspective, the non-paged CLR host uses the SetProcessWorkingSetSize, SetProcessWorkingSetSizeEx (on Windows Server 2003 and above) and VirtualLock APIs to ensure that memory allocated by it is locked into physical memory. Note that using the above APIs does not guarantee with absolute certainty that no paging will occur; instead, it minimizes the odds of it occurring to very exceptional scenarios. In some load tests we have conducted, even when the system as a whole was hogged by lack of physical memory, no page faults were observed in the process using the non-paged CLR host.

More Information
For more information on this project, please visit our blogs:

Last edited Jun 27, 2008 at 6:21 PM by sashag, version 2