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Introducing Iguana: extraordinarily quick SIMD-optimized decompression

Introducing Iguana: extraordinarily quick SIMD-optimized decompression

2023-05-31 07:28:46

Excessive efficiency takes no prisoners, typically to the purpose of reinventing the wheel. As many wheels have already been invented, one would possibly surprise what makes ours distinctive. Let’s spare a thousand-word reply for later and begin with a single image.


Yup, there’s no mistake. Due to a format particularly designed to take full benefit of the fashionable SIMD extensions, the decompression efficiency is 13 gigabytes per second on a single AVX-512-capable core (eleventh Gen Intel(R) Core(TM) i9-11950H @ 2.60GHz). Or six GiB/s, with non-obligatory entropy compression. That’s virtually two instances the efficiency of LZ4, nonetheless on the compression ratio near 4:1. And that’s 244% quicker than zstd when utilizing entropy compression with solely barely much less beneficial compression ratios. With out entropy compression, Iguana is 6 instances quicker than zstd.

Whereas Sneller primarily employs Iguana to compress logging information units, the algorithm performs properly on the extensively accepted Silesia corpus benchmark too:

Silesia corpus

This big efficiency enhance is feasible due to a novel encoding of the enter streams and a cautious implementation.


Our goal at Sneller is to question massive portions of information extremely quick. Alas, as no information merchandise will be processed earlier than it’s ingested, environment friendly information supply is of paramount significance. Two elements will be recognized as the last word bottlenecks:

  1. The bandwidth of the bodily networking {hardware}.
  2. The tempo at which the appliance can eat the delivered enter.

The cloud-native nature of Sneller makes the bodily bandwidth largely a constraint we can’t deal with. We’re restricted to utilizing regardless of the prevalent Cloud infrastructure suppliers can supply us inside our price range constraints. Although many situations come geared up with spectacular single or double 100 gigabit hyperlinks – a bandwidth that belonged to the realm of science fiction not way back – it’s nonetheless merely 25 gigabytes per second. This worth is already under the present Sneller’s engine saturation level, and we plan to proceed elevating the bar even larger.

Compression to the rescue

Since rising the bodily bandwidth will not be viable, the following neatest thing to think about is elevating the efficient throughput. Merely put: compress information. The format Sneller makes use of underneath the hood is derived from Amazon Ion which is a binary type of JSON. It’s handy to the purpose of creating us capable of course of it on the AVX-512 meeting stage straight. It’s far more compact than the textual JSON as properly. The compactness is, nevertheless, restricted to the intelligent illustration of particular person gadgets: no type of extracting the redundancy usually current throughout information gadgets is exploited. Feeding ION enter right into a common compression pipeline might make the canine hunt once more. And it’s certainly the case – our survey of compression algorithms confirms that ION recordsdata do compress properly.

Compression is a blended blessing, although. Whereas the efficient bandwidth will increase as supposed, the computational price of compression and decompression additionally does so. Changing the rock with a tough place solely helps a bit of total: the community is not an issue, however decompression leaves little computing energy for the precise information processing. The overhead varies from one algorithm to a different, however it’s clearly seen in all circumstances. The unquestionable king of the hill these days is zstd, however even with this subtle and cleverly optimized algorithm, the decompression overhead is within the ballpark of 48%, as perf traces can witness.

One possibility can be to optimize the very best zstd implementation out there, and Sneller adopted this route. Substantial speedup has been noticed, however the algorithm’s complexity makes the optimization effort difficult to progress past a sure level. Whereas the algorithm can obtain wonderful compression ratios, this function stays inaccessible to us by an impenetrable wall of decompression price.


Designing a aggressive compression algorithm from scratch will not be trivial, so surveying promising candidates appeared like factor. Probably the most promising possibility was lizard – efficient compression with very fast decompression. Its efficiency figures had been spectacular however not near what we needed at Sneller. On the intense facet, its implementation was extra simple than that of zstd, and a few useful documentation of its internals was additionally out there. The high-level construction is as follows:

  1. The highest-level half is an LZ77 spinoff with a neatly designed constellation of tokens.
  2. On the backside, there’s an non-obligatory entropy encoder based mostly on the Finite State Entropy algorithm.

Vectorization stopped as all of a sudden as promptly it began. Irrespective of how intelligent the algorithm was, the variety of dependencies it inherited from its predecessors made it inherently scalar. Fashionable processors can execute directions out-of-order and – in fortunate circumstances – in parallel, however the sustainable speedup remains to be fairly low. Matching the capabilities of the ever-hungry downstream data-crunching pipeline cried for a radically completely different strategy. If something in any respect, solely the AVX-512 SIMD extension might assist us.

Scalar and SIMD don’t mate

Nevertheless scalar dependencies and SIMD processing don’t mate. Particularly, 4 kinds of issues make vectorization of Lizard subsequent to not possible:

  1. An easy implementation ends in many unpredictable branches, incurring a big department misprediction penalty.
  2. Literals are blended with variable-length uints, making it not possible to deduce the semantics of an arbitrary bitstream portion with out deciphering all of the previous tokens. Solely the present state of the Lizard state machine can resolve the ambiguities. Not a difficulty for a scalar implementation of the decoder, but it surely suffices to make a vectorized one preventing a shedding battle.
  3. The same flaw haunts the variable-length unsigned integer encoding. Ought to a byte be interpreted as part of an extended run of payload bytes or as a marker of the worth that follows? Once more, solely the state machine can present a decisive reply.
  4. The FSE algorithm is a member of the tANS arithmetic coding household. The t, standing for tabled, signifies one explanation for efficiency issues. Not solely does the algorithm must traverse massive state tables, however the stream consumption additionally happens on the granularity of particular person bits as a substitute of bytes the processor can work with a lot extra effectively. The situation is about as dangerous as doable for a contemporary SIMD-vectorized processor just like the AVX-512-capable x64 chips.

Introducing Iguana: vectorized decompression

The hardware-assisted masked execution of the AVX-512 directions alleviates the primary downside. Whereas not very best, a largely branchless execution is feasible with meticulous implementation. Solely the loop-like branches stay, however these will be precisely predicted more often than not and therefore incur little to no execution time penalty.

The second downside is unfixable with out altering the Lizard stream format. However since interoperability was not a design requirement, the Iguana compression was born. With this constraint eliminated, the repair turns into trivial: we barely want to separate Literals_Stream into two separate streams. One comprises the precise literals and the opposite solely the varuints, so the semantic dependence on the decoder state is eliminated.

The third downside survives the splitting, nevertheless. The encoding utilized by Lizard and lots of different LZ77 derivatives is remarkably dense underneath typical enter information statistics:

  • Values not exceeding 253 are encoded as a single byte carrying that worth.
  • Values exceeding 253 and never exceeding 65535 are encoded as a byte 254 adopted by two little-endian bytes carrying the worth.
  • Values exceeding 65536 are encoded as a byte 255, adopted by three little-endian bytes carrying the worth.

Alas, it isn’t self-synchronizing: it’s trivially decodable by scalar code, however no vectorized parser of affordable complexity can extract a number of values in a single go. There isn’t any manner however to vary the encoding, constituting one other incompatibility with Lizard.

From base256 to base254

Many candidates for a self-synchronizing varuint encoding exist, however to maintain the density of the unique encoding, the prefix scheme is retained. The decoding ambiguity is brought on by the presence of the 254 and 255 bytes within the payload, so these are prohibited from occurring there. This step successfully transforms the unique encoding from base256 into base254. The encodable vary drops from 16777216 to 16387064, however since these values encode run lengths, your complete 24-bit vary will not be strictly required. We want simply as a lot capability as vital for compact encoding of usually occurring run lengths, and virtually 16-megabyte-long runs are hardly seen in observe. If the capability had been inadequate, Iguana (and Lizard, simply barely later) would emit two or extra tokens to cowl the excessively long term. The bitstream stays legitimate, so it isn’t a giant deal.

See Also

From tables to ranges (or: tANS to rANS)

Regarding the fourth downside, saturating the reminiscence bus with large quantities of collect/scatter requests and competing for cache capability with the precise information being processed is exactly what must be averted in any respect prices in a high-performance situation. Fortunately, tANS has an older sibling, the rANS or vary ANS in full kind. It’s conceptually beautiful and enjoys a compact implementation. Nevertheless, its writer doesn’t reward it sufficient because of its heavy demand for environment friendly integer multiplication {hardware}. However not solely do the AVX-512-capable processors have environment friendly vectorized multipliers, these multipliers function independently from the load/retailer models.

Closing phrases and Future plans

Iguana is part of the open-source Sneller so you possibly can check it out in case you are within the particulars. Along with the optimized AVX-512 meeting implementation, it additionally comprises a reference implementation written totally in Go.

We’re utilizing the Iguana compression already in Sneller Cloud for very quick and environment friendly log evaluation. We’re planning on releasing it as a standalone compression library for Golang within the close to future.

Appendix A: Benchmarking

Two types of benchmarking are related for comparative efficiency evaluation. One is to depend on a standardized enter, and presently, the Silesia corpus is the weapon of selection. The zstd and lz4 command line instruments have a built-in possibility ‘-b’. Since Iguana nonetheless lacks a stand-alone compression utility, Phil Hofer created the compbench program to permit efficiency comparability. Utilizing the software is so simple as:

$ go set up
$ compbench

Notice that presently, Iguana will depend on the AVX-512 instruction set with the VBMI2 extension. Within the absence thereof, a scalar, non-optimized reference implementation in Go is activated, and the outcomes — whereas nonetheless appropriate — can be considerably removed from the depicted values when it comes to efficiency. A variant not counting on the VBMI2 extension is now topic to code evaluate, so working the decompressor on any AVX-512-capable machine will quickly be doable, together with Skylake-X. The early benchmarking figures are encouraging, suggesting that at least 90% of the VBMI2 efficiency is to be recovered. Nevertheless, we plan to cease there, because the AVX-512 help is required by the Sneller product anyway.

Whereas Iguana performs (surprisingly) properly within the common compression case, the opposite benchmarking kind takes the ION context under consideration.
Sneller can use each zstd and Iguana to compress the info units, so a comparative benchmark is accessible within the zion listing:
go check -bench . The zion information format normally provides Iguana roughly 50% larger decompression efficiency and compression ratio than within the Silesia case.

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