Allocating memory

When memory is allocated, some additional space is reserved for the allocation header and some padding. The padding ensures that each memory allocation can specify it's own alignment. The allocation header is an intrusive linked list used to keep track of active allocations. It also contains the size and alignment of the allocation, as well as a pointer to where the allocation was made. This location pointer is intended for debugging only. The minimum amount of data the allocation would need is the size and alignment, the three additonal pointers make debugging much easier.

struct Allocation {
    Allocation* prev;
    Allocation* next;
    const char* location;
    u32 size;
    u32 alignment;

We could wrap the prev, next, and location variables in a #if _DEBUG block and have a smaller allocation footprint for release builds. I think having consistent behavior in release and debug builds is worth the minimal overhead these pointers introduce.

Implementing malloc

Let's implement our allocation function, this is the function that will provide the implementation for malloc / new. We want to follow these steps to allocate new memory:

Start implementing the Allocate function by finding the size of the allocation. To find the allcation size, take the requested size and add any padding needed for alignment. After the alignment padding, reserve enough room for the allocation header. The allocation should immediateley follow this header, but for now we're only concerned with the total size of this allocation.

void* Allocate(u32 bytes, u32 alignment, const char* location, Allocator* allocator) {
    if (bytes == 0) {
        return 0;
    if (allocator == 0) {
        allocator = GlobalAllocator;

    u32 allocationHeaderPadding = 0;
    if (alignment != 0) { // Add padding for alignment if requested
        allocationHeaderPadding = alignment - 1; 
    u32 allocationHeaderSize = sizeof(Allocation) + allocationHeaderPadding;

    // Add the header size to our allocation size
    u32 allocationSize = bytes; // Add enough space to pad out for alignment
    allocationSize += allocationHeaderSize;

Next we need to figure how many pages are needed for this allocation, find enough free bits in the tracking mask, and mark those bits as in use. The number of pages is padded out, for example a 1024 byte allocation will only use one page, but a 5043 byte allocation will take up two pages. If an allocation takes up part of a page, it takes up the whole page. We will use the FindRange and SetRange helper functions discussed on the previous page to locate and claim the requested pages.

    // Figure out how many pages are going to be needed to hold that much memory
    u32 numPagesRequested = allocationSize / allocator->pageSize + (allocationSize % allocator->pageSize ? 1 : 0);
    // We can record the request here. It's made before the allocation callback, and is valid for sub-allocations too.
    allocator->requested += bytes;

    // Sub allocators will be implemented here

    // Find enough memory to allocate
    u32 firstPage = FindRange(allocator, numPagesRequested, allocator->scanBit);

    SetRange(allocator, firstPage, numPagesRequested);

    if (firstPage == 0 || allocator->size % allocator->pageSize != 0) {
        return 0; // Fail this allocation in release mode

That's about it for the allocate function, we finish it up by filling out the allocation header, adding the header to the allocators active list, and returning the allocated memory that immediateley follows the allocation header.

    // Fill out header
    u8* mem = (u8*)allocator + firstPage * allocator->pageSize;

    u32 alignmentOffset = 0;
    if (alignment != 0) { // Move the memory to be at the right alignment
        u64 mem_addr = (u64)((void*)mem) + sizeof(Allocation);
        if (mem_addr % alignment != 0) {
            mem_addr = (mem_addr + (alignment - 1)) / alignment * alignment;
            mem = (u8*)(mem_addr - sizeof(Allocation));

    Allocation* allocation = (Allocation*)mem;
    mem += sizeof(Allocation);

    allocation->alignment = alignment;
    allocation->size = bytes;
    allocation->location = location;
    allocation->prev = 0;
    allocation->next = 0;

    // Track allocated memory
    if (allocator->active != 0) {
        allocation->next = allocator->active;
        assert(allocator->active->prev == 0, "");
        allocator->active->prev = allocation;
    allocator->active = allocation;

    // Allocation success, do callback
    if (allocator->allocateCallback != 0) {
        u8* _mem = (u8*)allocator + firstPage * allocator->pageSize + allocationHeaderPadding;
        allocator->allocateCallback(allocator, (Allocation*)_mem, bytes, allocationSize, firstPage, numPagesRequested);

    return mem;