Why Golang Is So Fast: A Performance Analysis

Golang is a relatively young but popular language, and is used by companies such as IBM and Google. In this article, we find out what makes Golang so special.
October 18, 2022
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Golang is considered one of the fastest-compiling languages in the world. Tech companies like Google, Uber, and Twitch love using it and rely on it for their in-house development. It was considered one of the most popular languages of 2021, according to Stack Overflow. Golang also had one of the highest developer adoption rates of 2021. 

There are many reasons why Golang is so popular. First, it’s a statically typed language, which helps to mitigate runtime errors. It also means that the code is easier to understand and build on. 

Second, engineers can use Golang for cross-platform application development. Its dependencies are bundled into a binary file, which you can run on platforms such as UNIX, Linux, and Windows. 

Furthermore, when compared to other languages, Golang’s syntax is compact, simple, and performant. For example, there are only 25 keywords in Golang, and most programmers find it less complex than other programming languages.  

Comparing Golang’s Performance to Popular Programming Languages

The main reason for Golang’s popularity is its speed. Many programmers have compared Golang to its competitors and found Golang to have the fastest compile time. Here’s a comparison of Golang with popular programming languages. 

Golang vs. Java

Golang is much faster than Java in terms of performance and speed. Since Java is compiled on a virtual machine, its code must be changed to bytecode before passing through the compiler. Even though this step makes it a platform-independent language, it significantly slows down the compilation process. 

Golang doesn’t rely on a virtual machine for code compilation and is directly compiled from the binary file. That’s why it is much faster than Java when it comes to application development. Golang’s automatic garbage collection also contributes to its speed and makes it much faster than Java. 

Golang vs. Node.js

Golang processing is faster and more lightweight than Node.js. Golang can also handle subroutines concurrently (i.e., it can execute threads in parallel). This is different from Node.js, which is single-threaded. This feature also improves the scalability of the final application. 

Golang’s goroutines are faster and more efficient compared to the single-thread architecture of Node.js. They also allow engineers to handle issues such as network timeout and database failures, which makes Golang a perfect candidate for high-performance system design. 

Golang vs. C++

C++ modules often take a lot of time to parse and compile headers. Sometimes they also need to parse and compile symbol tables, which further slows down the application compilation. 

In contrast, Golang only uses packages that are necessary to run the program. Golang has a feature that reminds the developer to remove unused packages from the final build. It throws a compilation error whenever it detects an unused variable or import, trading short-term convenience for performance and efficiency. 

Popular Tools That Use Golang

Even though Golang is statically typed, it has amazing memory management and garbage collection capabilities. It is also very easy to understand and implement, which has made this language a new favorite amongst developers. 

Since Golang cross-compiles, it is highly useful for developing cloud applications and microservice projects that run on the cloud. In addition, many service management platforms such as Kubernetes and Docker also use and are built on Golang. 

Some of the popular tools built using Golang include: 

1. Prometheus 

Prometheus is a very popular, open-source monitoring tool for recording time series metrics. It works on PromQL and monitors real-time metrics in different formats. 

2. Badoo 

Badoo is a popular dating app that uses bitmap indexes to search and validate profiles. Since bitmap indexes are hard to implement on regular databases, it uses Golang for middleware application design. The bitmap indexes are mapped onto a mapping tool called Pilosa, which uses a boolean matrix to create and optimize queries.  

3. SendGrid 

SendGrid is a cloud email service that uses Golang to parse and process millions of messages daily. Golang also handles other aspects of engineering, such as message confirmations, message passing, and scaling. 

Is There Any Way a Developer Can Optimize Golang Performance?

Even though Golang was built for optimization and scaling, there are a few things you can do to further optimize your Golang application. 

Managing Goroutines

Goroutines are an inexpensive way of handling concurrency in Golang applications. However, they can have a significant memory footprint if not managed properly. Goroutine mismanagement can also lead to performance degradation. 

Therefore, you must manage the number of Goroutines in your application architecture. You can use different cores for managing goroutines or use a single thread.   

Parallel Processing

You can optimize your system performance by making your I/O operation asynchronous. This can be done by utilizing multiple cores for I/O operations and using variables such as sync.WaitGroup for synchronization. 

You can also reduce timeout and latency issues of your I/O operations by setting up deadline parameters for your tasks and network requests. Avoid locking heavy objects with read-write locks. If locks are unavoidable, use a read-only lock.

Variable Creation

Whenever new variables are created, they take up memory and CPU cycles. A large number of unused variables can cause latency in the system and make garbage collection difficult for the CPU. 

To avoid such issues, you can use predefined variables for your code. You can also use a sync pool for your variable declaration. A sync pool is a built-in object pooling tool that caches temporary objects to avoid memory consumption.  

Map Optimization

If you’re using maps, it is advisable to use integers instead of strings for map keys. That’s because keys with integers are easier to fetch and work with. You can also use the binary format for your PostgreSQL scripts. 

When Should You Use Golang? 

Golang is a very versatile and promising programming language. Many companies use it to optimize their product performance and improve their efficiency. Furthermore, due to its goroutines that handle concurrency issues, it is the perfect language for preventing scalability bottlenecks. 

Golang allows developers to create performant and lightweight applications that are optimized for performance. Golang applications are easily maintainable and vastly outperform Node.js/Java-based applications in terms of performance. For microservices and enterprise cloud projects with a focus on performance, Golang is a great option.  

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