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Performance sensitive environments


This document describes suggested feature options for optimizing Duktape performance for performance sensitive environments.

The following genconfig option file template enables most performance related options: config/examples/performance_sensitive.yaml.

Compiler optimization level

Size optimization using -Os is a good default when performance is not critical. However, it's not ideal when performance matters for several reasons:

  • Although -Os optimized code performs reasonably well, even -O2 will yield significantly better results.

  • Code performance with -Os can vary a great deal even when source code changes are innocent. It's not uncommon for some performance test result to change +/- 10-30% with unrelated changes. Presumably this is caused by changes in code alignment etc.

    Because of this, -Os is definitely a bad idea for measuring performance.

  • Overall suggestion is to use -O2 and try -O3 if the end result is better. Note that -O3 is not always better because the code is larger and may not fit in caches as well as with -O2.

Profile guided optimization (PGO)

Duktape source files contain some performance attributes like forced inline forced noinline, and hot/cold attributes.

A better alternative is to use profile guided optimization (PGO) which is highly recommended for performance sensitive environments. For example, GCC -O2 with PGO can be around 20% faster than GCC -O2 without PGO.

See for example the following:

With GCC PGO is relatively simple:

  • Use -fprofile-generate to compile Duktape and your application.
  • Execute the result with representative (this is important) source files.
  • Use -fprofile-use to recompile Duktape and your application.

Suggested feature options

  • On some platforms setjmp/longjmp store the signal mask and may be much slower than alternative like _setjmp/_longjmp or sigsetjmp/siglongjmp:

    • Check the current provider from duk_config.h or config/platforms/ header snippets.
    • Edit DUK_SETJMP, DUK_LONGJMP, and DUK_JMPBUF_TYPE to change the setjmp provider.
    • On some platforms (e.g. macOS/iOS) Duktape will automatically use _setjmp().
  • Consider enabling "fastints":

    • #define DUK_USE_FASTINT

    Fastints are often useful on platforms with soft floats, but they can also speed up execution on some hard float platforms (even on x64). The benefit (or penalty) depends on the kind of ECMAScript code executed, e.g. code heavy on integer loops benefits.

  • Enable specific fast paths:

  • If you don't need debugging support or execution timeout support, ensure the following are not enabled:


    Especially interrupt counter option will have a measurable performance impact because it includes code executed for every bytecode instruction dispatch.

  • Disable safety check for value stack resizing so that if calling code fails to duk_check_stack() value stack, the result is memory unsafe behavior rather than an explicit error, but stack operations are faster: