A couple months ago, Michael Snoyman wrote a blogpost describing an experiment in an efficient implementation of binary serialization. Since then, we've developed this approach into a new package for efficient serialization of Haskell datatypes. I'm happy to announce that today we are putting out the initial release of our new new
store package takes a different approach than most prior serialization packages, in that performance is prioritized over other concerns. In particular, we do not make many guarantees about binary compatibility, and instead favor machine representations. For example, the
cereal packages use big endian encodings for numbers, whereas x86 machines use little endian. This means that to encode + decode numbers on an x86 machine, those packages end up swapping all of the individual bytes around twice!
To serialize a value,
store first computes its size and allocates a properly sized
ByteString. This keeps the serialization logic simple and fast, rather than mixing in logic to allocate new buffers. For datatypes that need to visit many values to compute their size, this can be inefficient - the datatype is traversed once to compute the size and once to do the serialization. However, for datatypes with constant size, or vectors of datatypes with constant size, it is possible to very quickly compute the total required size. List / set / map-like
Store instances all implement this optimization when their elements have constant size.
store comes with instances for most datatypes from
time. You can also use either GHC generics or Template Haskell to derive efficient instances for your datatypes.
I updated the serial-bench with
store is even faster than any of the implementations we had in the benchmark.
See the detailed report here. Note that the x-axis is measured in micro-seconds taken to serialize a 100 element
Vector where each element occupies at least 17 bytes.
store is actually performing this operations in the sub-microseconds (431ns to encode, 906ns to decode). The results for
binary have been omitted from this graph as it blows out the x-axis scale, taking around 8 times longer than
cereal, nearly 100x slower than
We could actually write a benchmark even more favorable to
store, if we used storable or unboxed vectors! In that case,
store essentially implements a
Speeding up stack builds
Now, the benchmark is biased towards the usecase we are concerned with - serializing a
Vector of a small datatype which always takes up the same amount of space.
store was designed with this variety of usecase in mind, so naturally it excels in this benchmark. But lets say we choose a case that isn't exactly
store's strongsuit, how well does it perform? In our experiments, it seems that
store does a darn good job of that too!
The development version of
stack now uses
store for serializing caches of info needed by the build.
With store (~0.082 seconds):
2016-05-23 19:52:06.964518: [debug] Trying to decode /home/mgsloan/.stack/indices/Hackage/00-index.cache @(stack_I9M2eJwnG6d3686aQ2OkVk:Data.Store.VersionTagged src/Data/Store/VersionTagged.hs:49:5) 2016-05-23 19:52:07.046851: [debug] Success decoding /home/mgsloan/.stack/indices/Hackage/00-index.cache @(stack_I9M2eJwnG6d3686aQ2OkVk:Data.Store.VersionTagged src/Data/Store/VersionTagged.hs:58:13) 21210280 bytes
With binary (~0.197 seconds):
2016-05-23 20:22:29.855724: [debug] Trying to decode /home/mgsloan/.stack/indices/Hackage/00-index.cache @(stack_4Jm00qpelFc1pPl4KgrPav:Data.Binary.VersionTagged src/Data/Binary/VersionTagged.hs:55:5) 2016-05-23 20:22:30.053367: [debug] Success decoding /home/mgsloan/.stack/indices/Hackage/00-index.cache @(stack_4Jm00qpelFc1pPl4KgrPav:Data.Binary.VersionTagged src/Data/Binary/VersionTagged.hs:64:13) 20491950 bytes
So this part of
stack is now twice as fast!
Beyond the core of
store's functionality, this initial release also provides:
Data.Store.Streaming- functions for using
Storefor streaming serialization with
conduit. This makes it so that you don't need to have everything in memory at once when serializing / deserializing. For applications involving lots of data, this can essential to having reasonable performance, or even functioning at all.
This allows us to recoup the benefits of lazy serialization, without paying for the overhead when we don't need it. This approach is also more explicit / manual with regards to the laziness - the user must determine how their data will be streamed into chunks.
Data.Store.TypeHash, which provides utilities for computing hashes based on the structural definitions of datatypes. The purpose of this is to provide a mechanism for tagging serialized data in such a way that deserialization issues can be anticipated.
This is included in the
storepackage for a couple reasons:
It is quite handy to include these hashes with your encoded datatypes. The assumption is that any structural differences are likely to correspond with serialization incompatibilities. This is particularly true when the generics / TH deriving is used rather than custom instances.
storeon Template Haskell types in order to compute a ByteString. This allows us to directly use cryptographic hashes from the
cryptohashpackage to get a hash of the type info.
Data.Store.THnot only provides a means to derive
Storeinstances for your datatypes, but it also provides utilities for checking them via smallcheck and hspec. This makes it easy to check that all of your datatypes do indeed serialize properly.
These extras were the more recently added parts of
store, and so are likely to change quite a bit from the current API. The entirety of
store is quite new, and so is also subject to API change while it stabilizes. That said, we encourage you to give it a try for your application!
Usually, we directly use
Storable instances to implement
Store. In functionality,
Storable is very similar to
Store. The key difference is that
Store instances can take up a variable amount of size, whereas
Storable types must use a constant number of bytes. The store package also provides the convenience of
Poke monads, so defining custom
Store instances is quite a bit more convenient
Data.Store.TH.Internal defines a function
deriveManyStoreFromStorable, which does the following:
- Reifies all
- Reifies all
Storeinstances for all
In the future,
store will likely provide such a function for users, which restricts it to only deriving
Store instances for types in the current package or current module. For now, this is just internal convenience.
I noticed that the Storable instance for
Bool is a bit wasteful with its bytes. Rather inexplicably, perhaps due to alignment concerns, it takes up a whopping 4 bytes to represent a single bit of info:
instance Storable Bool where sizeOf _ = sizeOf (undefined::HTYPE_INT) alignment _ = alignment (undefined::HTYPE_INT) peekElemOff p i = liftM (/= (0::HTYPE_INT)) $ peekElemOff (castPtr p) i pokeElemOff p i x = pokeElemOff (castPtr p) i (if x then 1 else 0::HTYPE_INT)
We'd prefer to just use a single byte. Since
deriveManyStoreFromStorable skips types that already have
Store instances, all I needed to do was define our own instance for
Bool. To do this, I used the
derive function from the new
th-utilities package (blogpost pending!), to define an instance for
$($(derive [d| instance Deriving (Store Bool) |]))
This is a bit of a magical incantation - it runs code at compiletime which generates an efficient
instance Store Bool where .... We could also use generic deriving, and rely on the method defaults to just write
Bool. However, this can be less efficient, because the generics instances will yield a
VarSize for its
size, whereas the TH instance is smart enough to yield
ConstSize. In practice, this is the difference between having an
O(1) implementation for
size :: Size (Vector MyADT), and having an
O(n) implementation. The
O(1) implementation just multiplies the element size by the length, whereas the
O(n) implementation needs to ask each element for its size.