Java vs. C++ vs. C# at Finding Primes

by Xan Gregg, 2005-06-23
blog entry (has older comments)

Inspired by a previous effort at porting some C prime-finding code to Java, I’ve written a small benchmark that finds primes using three different techniques. The initial coding was in Java and then ported to C++ and C#. The three techniques for finding primes:

Linked List
finds primes one at a time by trial division by all the known primes less than the square root of the number. The found primes are kept in a linked list, so this test uses a lot of memory allocations. Minor optimization: skips multiples of 2 and 3.
Bit Array
uses a sieve to cross off multiples of primes from a large bit array, so that at the end only primes have their corresponding bits set. Minor optimization: only stores odd numbers in the array.
Offset Range
like BitArray but starts at a given offset instead of 0. Intended for finding primes a page at a time to save memory or parallelize the searching.

All the prime finders use the same interface class which uses 64-bit integers for all the primes, though only the Offset Range prime finder tests actually go beyond the range of 32-bit integers.

The raw sources are available for download. Sorry, no build files.

Below are timing results on a Mac 2x2GHz G5 running Mac OS X 10.4.1 and on a Dell with a 1.8GHz P4 running Window 2003. Times are generally comparable, except: C#/Mono is slow on the Mac, and the first test (which allocates lots of small objects) has poor results for CodeWarrior C++/Mac and Java/Windows.

C++ times depend more on compiler flags — I turned the optimizer up as far as I could for these. That meant changing the code a little to get around a GCC bug in which the code reported wrong numbers at higher levels of optimization. I also had to make a few changes to get the C++ code to get it to compile on Windows. Besides the line endings issue, the printf escape codes for printing 64-bit integers are apparently different.

Minor changes were also required for the C# code, since the exception class I used under Mono wasn’t recognized in .NET. And I was surprised that the C# exe file I created under Mono didn’t work on .NET (had to recompile).

So, though the benchmarks are intended to compare performance, it also highlights some issues with portability. No problems with Java portability.

Mac G5 Timing Results

Test Name Range Prime Count Java 1.4.2 Java 1.5.0 Mono 1.16 C# CW 9.4 C++ XCode 2.1 C++
Linked List 0…..10M 664,579 11.87 11.37 43.07 39.57 10.64
OddBitArray 0…..10M 664,579 0.17 0.19 0.90 0.13 0.17
OddBitArray 0….100M 5,761,455 3.01 3.07 10.81 2.74 3.04
OffsetRange 10M….100M 5,096,876 2.65 2.75 7.87 2.46 2.77
OffsetRange 1000M…1100M 4,814,936 3.95 6.60 10.23 3.72 4.14
OffsetRange 10000M..10100M 4,341,930 4.93 7.68 11.46 4.75 5.10
total 26.63 31.81 84.42 53.62 26.01

Windows P4 Timing Results

Test Name Range Prime Count Java 1.4.2 Java 1.5.0 .NET C# MSDev C++
Linked List 0…..10M 664,579 26.36 25.91 11.30 16.06
OddBitArray 0…..10M 664,579 0.44 0.44 0.45 0.44
OddBitArray 0….100M 5,761,455 6.70 6.86 6.76 6.92
OffsetRange 10M….100M 5,096,876 6.24 6.12 5.86 6.09
OffsetRange 1000M…1100M 4,814,936 8.09 8.24 7.86 8.16
OffsetRange 10000M..10100M 4,341,930 9.28 9.38 9.01 9.33
total 57.14 56.99 41.24 47.23

Another interesting tidbit is that when I tried an early version of the benchmarks with 32-bit integers instead of 64-bit integers on my G5, the C times improved much more that the Java times. I’m guessing the Java JIT compiler was able to recognize that it was running on a 64-bit CPU while the C++ compiler had to use generic 64-bit arithmetic that would run on any PowerPC (no G5-only switch in the compilers I used).

Update 2007-04-03: A separate post contains Mac/Intel times.

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