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Newsgroups: comp.lang.smalltalk
Distribution: comp
Subject: Smalltalk vs. C(++) performance

Executive summary: a non-trivial benchmark written in C++ and
Smalltalk is available from otis.stanford.edu; please send me your
results.
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As some have pointed out, it is difficult to compare the runtime
performance of Smalltalk programs with the performance of equivalent C
programs.  One reason for this is that for most non-trivial programs
there is no equivalent program written in the other language (because
it would be a non-trivial effort to write it).

The "best" benchmark I know of is the Richards benchmark, an operating
system simulation.  It is written in an object-oriented style, uses
polymorphism, and is reasonably non-trivial (700 lines).  It's
probably not the world's greatest benchmark, but better than 
micro-benchamrks, and it is available in Smalltalk, Self, T (an
object-oriented version of Scheme) and C++.

[Historical note: the Richards benchmark was originally written in
BCPL by Mark Richards.  Many thanks to L. Peter Deutsch for the
Smalltalk version.]

The sources for Richards are available from otis.stanford.edu
(36.22.0.201) in /pub/benchmarks.  I would be interested in
comparisons of the performance of the C++ and Smalltalk versions on
various systems.  We measured it a while ago for the Sun-3/4 versions
of PP 2.4, and the difference was about a factor of 10.

Disclaimer: Richards is *not* a typical application: it is relatively
small and contains no graphics or other user interaction.  Thus it may
not reflect the relative performance of Your Own Real-World (TM)
Application, but I think it tests the efficiency of the basic language
mechanisms fairly well.  If you think you have a better benchmark
which is available both in ST-80 and C (or Fortran or...), please let
me know.

******* ADVERTISEMENT ******** 

The goal of the Self project at Stanford is to improve the performance
of dynamically-typed object-oriented languages such as Smalltalk and
Self.  Though similar to Smalltalk, Self is simpler and more flexible.
Our current system runs significantly faster than any Smalltalk
implementation we know of.  For example, here are the numbers for
Richards on a Sun-4/260:

	C++  (-O2)	730ms
	Self	       2160ms (Nov'90; 1940ms for an experimental system)
	PP ST-80 2.4   7740ms
	T	       9800ms (8100ms with some not-so-kosher "tuning")

[On some other benchmarks, the Stanford Integer Benchmarks, Self
actually looks even better, running at around 60-70% of the speed of
optimized C.]

More information (papers, documentation, how to get the current system)
is available via anonymous ftp from otis.stanford.edu.

******* END OF ADVERTISEMENT ********