PHP Question

Need an array-like structure in PHP with minimal memory usage

In my PHP script I need to create an array of >600k integers. Unfortunately my webservers

is set to 32M so when initializing the array the script aborts with message

Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 33554432 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 71 bytes) in /home/www/myaccount/html/mem_test.php on line 8

I am aware of the fact, that PHP does not store the array values as plain integers, but rather as zvalues which are much bigger than the plain integer value (8 bytes on my 64-bit system). I wrote a small script to estimate how much memory each array entry uses and it turns out, that it's pretty exactly 128 bytes. 128!!! I'd need >73M just to store the array. Unfortunately the webserver is not under my control so I cannot increase the

My question is, is there any possibility in PHP to create an array-like structure that uses less memory. I don't need this structure to be associative (plain index-access is sufficient). It also does not need to have dynamic resizing - I know exactly how big the array will be. Also, all elements would be of the same type. Just like a good old C-array.

So deceze's solution works out-of-the-box with 32-bit integers. But even if you're on a 64-bit system, pack() does not seem to support 64-bit integers. In order to use 64-bit integers in my array I applied some bit-manipulation. Perhaps the below snippets will be of help for someone:

function push_back(&$storage, $value)
// split the 64-bit value into two 32-bit chunks, then pass these to pack().
$storage .= pack('ll', ($value>>32), $value);

function get(&$storage, $idx)
// read two 32-bit chunks from $storage and glue them back together.
return (current(unpack('l', substr($storage, $idx * 8, 4)))<<32 |
current(unpack('l', substr($storage, $idx * 8+4, 4))));

Answer Source

The most memory efficient you'll get is probably by storing everything in a string, packed in binary, and use manual indexing to it.

$storage = '';

$storage .= pack('l', 42);

// ...

// get 10th entry
$int = current(unpack('l', substr($storage, 9 * 4, 4)));

This can be feasible if the "array" initialisation can be done in one fell swoop and you're just reading from the structure. If you need a lot of appending to the string, this becomes extremely inefficient. Even this can be done using a resource handle though:

$storage = fopen('php://memory', 'r+');
fwrite($storage, pack('l', 42));

This is very efficient. You can then read this buffer back into a variable and use it as string, or you can continue to work with the resource and fseek.

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