Performance Decrease When Using Interfaces in .NET

From github on the performance difference of using interfaces vs concrete classes.

Because virtual calls are used when using interfaces, making it so the JIT doesn’t inline them, indexer access time is greatly increased. I was curious just how big the performance decrease was, so I put together a little demo program to try and benchmark this, and the results were worse than I expected:

Times are in milliseconds

18       Array
218      Array as IList
26       List
223      List as IList
19       ArrayWrapper
188      ArrayWrapper as IList

Using an IList resulted in about an order of magnitude longer execution time than not using an IList. I wondered if some of this was due to the extra stuff the CLR does when accessing an Array or List as an IList, so I made a simple wrapper class around an array. This resulted in some improvement, but not much.


…abstractions often have costs. This is part of what makes design hard, because you have to make tradeoffs. We have problems with people going ‘overboard’ both ways. We often have people designing things without any concern for perf, often with really bad consequences. More rarely, we have people who try to optimize ‘everything’ and end up making hard-to-maintain code.

What we really want is to take advantage of a 90%-10% dynamic that typically happens with software. It is typically the case that WELL UNDER 10% of your code in is on high volume (HOT) code paths. Moreover, it is NOT THAT hard to anticipate this. In this code, there is a good chance you need to NOT be as abstract (e.g. using Arrays instead of IList), and think carefully about the APIs (make them chunky, so that they are not called often to do little work). The other 90% of your code you can skew toward all the good software abstractions etc that make the code understandable, reusable and maintainable.

Additional reading on improving performance:


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