What uses are there for "placement new"?


Has anyone here ever used C++'s "placement new"? If so, what for? It looks to me like it would only be useful on memory-mapped hardware.

3/26/2019 10:11:19 PM

Accepted Answer

Placement new allows you to construct an object in memory that's already allocated.

You may want to do this for optimization when you need to construct multiple instances of an object, and it is faster not to re-allocate memory each time you need a new instance. Instead, it might be more efficient to perform a single allocation for a chunk of memory that can hold multiple objects, even though you don't want to use all of it at once.

DevX gives a good example:

Standard C++ also supports placement new operator, which constructs an object on a pre-allocated buffer. This is useful when building a memory pool, a garbage collector or simply when performance and exception safety are paramount (there's no danger of allocation failure since the memory has already been allocated, and constructing an object on a pre-allocated buffer takes less time):

char *buf  = new char[sizeof(string)]; // pre-allocated buffer
string *p = new (buf) string("hi");    // placement new
string *q = new string("hi");          // ordinary heap allocation

You may also want to be sure there can be no allocation failure at a certain part of critical code (for instance, in code executed by a pacemaker). In that case you would want to allocate memory earlier, then use placement new within the critical section.

Deallocation in placement new

You should not deallocate every object that is using the memory buffer. Instead you should delete[] only the original buffer. You would have to then call the destructors of your classes manually. For a good suggestion on this, please see Stroustrup's FAQ on: Is there a "placement delete"?

12/12/2018 10:08:03 PM

We use it with custom memory pools. Just a sketch:

class Pool {
    Pool() { /* implementation details irrelevant */ };
    virtual ~Pool() { /* ditto */ };

    virtual void *allocate(size_t);
    virtual void deallocate(void *);

    static Pool::misc_pool() { return misc_pool_p; /* global MiscPool for general use */ }

class ClusterPool : public Pool { /* ... */ };
class FastPool : public Pool { /* ... */ };
class MapPool : public Pool { /* ... */ };
class MiscPool : public Pool { /* ... */ };

// elsewhere...

void *pnew_new(size_t size)
   return Pool::misc_pool()->allocate(size);

void *pnew_new(size_t size, Pool *pool_p)
   if (!pool_p) {
      return Pool::misc_pool()->allocate(size);
   else {
      return pool_p->allocate(size);

void pnew_delete(void *p)
   Pool *hp = Pool::find_pool(p);
   // note: if p == 0, then Pool::find_pool(p) will return 0.
   if (hp) {

// elsewhere...

class Obj {
   // misc ctors, dtors, etc.

   // just a sampling of new/del operators
   void *operator new(size_t s)             { return pnew_new(s); }
   void *operator new(size_t s, Pool *hp)   { return pnew_new(s, hp); }
   void operator delete(void *dp)           { pnew_delete(dp); }
   void operator delete(void *dp, Pool*)    { pnew_delete(dp); }

   void *operator new[](size_t s)           { return pnew_new(s); }
   void *operator new[](size_t s, Pool* hp) { return pnew_new(s, hp); }
   void operator delete[](void *dp)         { pnew_delete(dp); }
   void operator delete[](void *dp, Pool*)  { pnew_delete(dp); }

// elsewhere...

ClusterPool *cp = new ClusterPool(arg1, arg2, ...);

Obj *new_obj = new (cp) Obj(arg_a, arg_b, ...);

Now you can cluster objects together in a single memory arena, select an allocator which is very fast but does no deallocation, use memory mapping, and any other semantic you wish to impose by choosing the pool and passing it as an argument to an object's placement new operator.

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