Dynamic memory allocation and deallocation functions can be globally replaced by custom implementations, as specified by [replacement.functions], paragraph 2, of the C++ Standard [ISO/IEC 14882-2014]. For instance, a user may profile the dynamic memory usage of an application and decide that the default allocator is not optimal for their usage pattern, and a different allocation strategy may be a marked improvement. However, the C++ Standard, [res.on.functions], paragraph 1, states the following:
In certain cases (replacement functions, handler functions, operations on types used to instantiate standard library template components), the C++ standard library depends on components supplied by a C++ program. If these components do not meet their requirements, the Standard places no requirements on the implementation.
Paragraph 2 further, in part, states the following:
In particular, the effects are undefined in the following cases:
— for replacement functions, if the installed replacement function does not implement the semantics of the applicable Required behavior: paragraph.
A replacement for any of the dynamic memory allocation or deallocation functions must meet the semantic requirements specified by the appropriate Required behavior: clause of the replaced function.
Noncompliant Code Example
In this noncompliant code example, the global
operator new(std::size_t) function is replaced by a custom implementation. However, the custom implementation fails to honor the behavior required by the function it replaces, as per the C++ Standard, [new.delete.single], paragraph 3. Specifically, if the custom allocator fails to allocate the requested amount of memory, the replacement function returns a null pointer instead of throwing an exception of type
std::bad_alloc. By returning a null pointer instead of throwing, functions relying on the required behavior of
operator new(std::size_t) to throw on memory allocations may instead attempt to dereference a null pointer. See EXP34-C. Do not dereference null pointers for more information.
The declarations of the replacement
operator delete() functions indicate that this noncompliant code example still complies with DCL54-CPP. Overload allocation and deallocation functions as a pair in the same scope.
This compliant solution implements the required behavior for the replaced global allocator function by properly throwing a
std::bad_alloc exception when the allocation fails.
Failing to meet the stated requirements for a replaceable dynamic storage function leads to undefined behavior. The severity of risk depends heavily on the caller of the allocation functions, but in some situations, dereferencing a null pointer can lead to the execution of arbitrary code [Jack 2007, van Sprundel 2006]. The indicated severity is for this more severe case.
The user defined 'new' operator should throw the 'std::bad_alloc' exception when the allocation fails
|SEI CERT C++ Coding Standard|
|SEI CERT C Coding Standard||EXP34-C. Do not dereference null pointers|
|[ISO/IEC 14882-2014]||Subclause 18.104.22.168, "Other Functions"|
Subclause 18.6.1, "Storage Allocation and Deallocation"
|[van Sprundel 2006]|