[erlang-questions] perform a function on a fixed time interval

Jon Meredith <>
Tue Aug 24 16:49:41 CEST 2010

  On 8/24/10 5:31 AM, Max Lapshin wrote:
> On Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 3:26 PM, Miguel Morales<>  wrote:
>> I'll keep that in mind.  Didn't know it was expensive.  Thanks.
>> erlang:statistics(wallclock) may be lighter, if you use it 1000 times per second
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I did a little microbenchmarking on OSX to look at the three 
date/timestamp options I know about.  It turns out that 
statistics(wallclock) takes a very similar amount of time to run as 
erlang:now(), but os:timestamp() is almost twice as fast (without any of 
the guarantees of now/0).

now()/statistics(wallclock) ~ 6.5 million calls/sec
os:timestamp()                  ~ 11.7 million calls/sec

*NB* I didn't measure concurrent performance of the three calls so there 
are no effects from locks measured.

Also be careful of using timer:tc() when measuring code with many calls 
to now(). Each call to now() increments the nanosecs to make sure you 
get a unique value per node.  If you call now() fast enough it affects 
your timings. I wrote equivalents of timer:tc for the other two time 
measuring methods and they align fairly well.

%% Erlang time mechanism micro-benchmarks (8-core 3Ghz Macpro2,1, R13B04 
%% Conclusion:  now()/statistics(wallclock) take about the same amount 
of time
%%              os:timestamp() runs almost twice as fast as the other two
%%              using timer:tc on code that calls now() a lot is unreliable
%% 35> bench:tstc(bench, do_now, [10000000]).
%% {1537955,ok}
%% 36> bench:wctc(bench, do_now, [10000000]).
%% {1542000,ok}
%% 37> bench:tstc(bench, do_timestamp, [10000000]).
%% {853846,ok}
%% 38> bench:wctc(bench, do_timestamp, [10000000]).
%% {857000,ok}
%% 39> bench:tstc(bench, do_wallclock, [10000000]).
%% {1515972,ok}
%% 40> bench:wctc(bench, do_wallclock, [10000000]).
%% {1525000,ok}


do_now(0) ->
do_now(N) ->

do_wallclock(0) ->
do_wallclock(N) ->

do_timestamp(0) ->
do_timestamp(N) ->

wctc(M, F, A) ->
     {S,_} = erlang:statistics(wall_clock),
     R = apply(M,F,A),
     {E,_} = erlang:statistics(wall_clock),
     {(E - S) * 1000, R}.

tstc(M, F, A) ->
     S = os:timestamp(),
     R = apply(M,F,A),
     E = os:timestamp(),
     {timer:now_diff(E, S), R}.

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