[erlang-questions] hrtime/0, Was: now/0 resolution

Raimo Niskanen raimo+erlang-questions@REDACTED
Wed Sep 12 09:42:08 CEST 2007

So, to conclude this thread, there is no much better way today.
Call trace may in some cases be more convenient but not
much more efficient and has no better precision.

New question:

Serge apparently want a new BIF e.g hrtime/0 that would return
the best high resolution time the implementation knows on the
running OS. The precision would be OS dependant, but the best
known to the emulator, and it would be the fastest way to get it.
This BIF could also be suitable for getting high resolution
CPU time as well as wallclock time.

How much interest for such a BIF is there from the community?

This would perhaps better be asked for in an EEP, but
this is a first poll.

Came to think about it. The current suggestion for FFI
(Forein Function Interface) could be used to call the OS
high resolution time functions, but then you would have
to know the right call on every OS, and I do not know
how efficient that call interface would be.

On Fri, Sep 07, 2007 at 07:23:34AM -0500, Serge Aleynikov wrote:
> Since according to documentation consecutive executions of now/0 will 
> return different values (with microsecond precision) I have two questions:
> 1. Does it mean that inserting now/0 calls in code will slow down 
> execution to 1mks per execution?  If not, then performance of function 
> call measured using now/0 time stamping would be inaccurate.
> 2. Is it possible to measure execution time more accurately (with 
> nanosecond precision) using current Erlang distribution? (*)
> Serge
> (*) Since VM uses gettimeofday() to bump timer, it's limited by 
> getimeofday's precision.  Additionally each invocation of gettimeofday 
> takes about 15mks (OS dependent).  I believe that there's no code to 
> take advantage of a high resolution timer.  Such a timer can give 
> nanosecond precision, and presently the only way it can be implemented 
> is in a linked-in driver.  The only problem that calling functions 
> inside the driver with erlang:port_call/3 incurs some cost that would be 
> better to avoid if a bif (such as hrnow/0) was available.
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/ Raimo Niskanen, Erlang/OTP, Ericsson AB

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