I am a developer at Microsoft and work in the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR) team. For the last 4 years I have been working on virtual machine technologies on a variety of form factors including desktops (Windows, Linux), tablets (Win8), gaming-consoles (Xbox 360), mobile devices (Windows Phone 7, Windows CE, Symbian).I have worked on various core pieces of the runtime including Garbage Collector, memory manager, platform abstraction layer, runtime-performance, etc.Before working on .NET I worked on Visual Studio Team Foundation Server, Visual Studio Team System, Adobe Framemaker, Adobe Acrobat, Texas Instrument's Code Composer Studio.
When the system goes out of memory a OutOfMemoryException is thrown. Similarly for stack overflow a StackOverFlorException is thrown. Now typically an exception is thrown as follows (or the corresponding native way)
throw new System.OutOfMemoryException();
But when the system is already out of memory there's a little chance that creating an exception object will succeed. So how does the CLR create these exception objects?
The answer is trivial and as expect, at the very application start it creates all these exception objects and stores them in a static list. In case these exceptions are to be thrown then it is fetched from this list and thrown.
The consequence of handling Stack overflow is even bigger because once the stack has overflown calling even a single method in that thread is equally dangerous and can cause further corruption. That is the material for another post :)
Other than the exact when part this post applies equally for the desktop portion.
Disclaimer: This post is mainly indicative. When the GC runs is an implementation detail and shouldn't be relied on. This is not part of any contract or specification and may (most probably will) change.
The ECMA specification for Garbage Collection is intentionally vague about when an object will be collected (or freed up). The memory management cycle mentioned in the spec is as follows
As you can see the specification doesn't even need an implementation to do code analysis to figure out garbage. It can simply use scoping rules (used anyway by the compiler to detect valid variable usage) for garbage detection. The specification also doesn't specify eventually when the objects are collected. The only need is that it is finalized and freed unspecified time later than the time when it goes out of use. This convenient open statement lets each GC implementers to choose whatever they deem fit for the purpose. Since even thread is not specified a concurrent GC or a non-concurrent GC can be used.
However, everyone wants to know exactly when their platform's GC is run. Here goes the non-exhaustive list for the .NET Compact Framework's Garbage Collector
Obviously there can be small differences across various platforms on which .NET CF is implemented. However, the differences are small enough to ignore for this discussion.
Even though this list seems small it works pretty well across disparate systems like XBox and Windows Mobile. In the next post I'll try to get into why "production user code should never do a forced GC". I know that statement is a bit controversial (at least it got so in an internal thread).
Few people seem to know that the word Endianess comes from Gullivers travels. In Gulliver's travel where there were two types of people, the Lilliputs who cracked the small side of their soft boiled eggs and the Blefuscu who used the big side (Big-Endian). Since I'm well networked these days (over Orkut/Facebook/LinkedIn) I make a conscious decision to be Big-Endian while cracking an egg as its the preferred network endianess.
I do not want to delve into the holy endianess war especially because most modern processors allow hardware/software methods to switch it (reminds me of some politicians though :))
However, I do use bit/byte questions as the acid test for fly/no-fly interviews as suggested by this guy. One of them involves asking about the whole endianess business and a code snippet to find out the endianess of the current system. I'm usually looking for something as below
short a = 1;
if (*((char *)&a) == 1)
Once upon a time a kick-ass developer I knew told me that a good developer needs to be multi-threaded and run the following threads
The same person also told me that real programmers do not blog, he asked me "Do you know about Dave Cutler or Linus Torvald's blog?". So I guess we can safely ignore him :)