The HIGH cost of ConcurrentBag in .NET 4.0

time to read 2 min | 314 words

I got some strange results when using concurrent collections, so I decided to try to track it down, and wrote the following code:

var count = ?;
var list = new List<object>(count);
var sp = Stopwatch.StartNew();
for (int i = 0; i < count; i++)
    list.Add(new ConcurrentBag<int>());
Console.WriteLine("{0} {2} items in {1:#,#;;0}ms = {3:#,#;;0}ms per item",
    sp.Elapsed, sp.ElapsedMilliseconds, count, sp.ElapsedMilliseconds / count);

And then I started to play with the numbers, and it is not good.

  • 10 items in 2ms = 0ms per item

This is incredibly high number, you have to understand. Just to compare, List<int> takes 8 ms to create 100,000 items.

Let us see how it works when we use more of this.

  • 100 items in 5ms = 0ms per item
  • 1,000 items in 37ms = 0ms per item
  • 10,000 items in 2,319ms = 0ms per item

Note the numbers, will you?

1,000 items in 37 ms, but 10,000 items? 2.3 seconds!

  • 20,000 items in 21,331ms = 1ms per item

And doubling the amount took ten times as long?

  • 25,000 items in 32,588ms = 1ms per item

And at this point, I stopped trying, because I didn’t have the patience.

Note that the other concurrent collection, ConcurrentStack, ConcurrentQueue and ConcurrentDictionary do not suffer from the same problem.

I contacted Microsoft about this, and this is already resolved in .NET 4.5. The underlying issue was that ThreadLocal, which ConcurrentBag uses, didn’t expect to have a lot of instances. That has been fixed, and now can run fairly fast.