That is almost 400x as slow! Is this an anomaly of me running windows on a virtual machine, or is new, delete always this slow as compared with local variable alloation?
There are two ways in which these results can be explained:
- Allocation of local variables will typically be done on "the stack", though strictly speaking this is an architecture-specific implementation detail (I don't believe C++ mandates a stack explicitly, only "automatic storage"). Allocation of objects with new and delete will typically be done on "the heap" (technically, "the free store" according to the C++ standard), which normally involve function calls that look for "gaps" in virtual memory (crudely speaking).
- A modern compiler will likely eliminate the first loop entirely. You might find a tool-chain that could eliminate the second loop, too, though this is less likely as I guess it would have to be done as a global optimization to ensure new/delete haven't been overridden.
I also did not find that simply dereferencing j caused any significant slowdown in the code.
If you want a thorough understanding about what's going on here, a really good exercise is to find out how to look at the assembly code your compiler generates and see if you can follow what it has done. Reading it will necessarily involve understanding what registers are, what "the stack" means on x86 and a bit about the calling convention(s) used.
There was quite a good series on altdevblogaday recently which you might be interested in. This is the best link I can find that includes them all:
Look for the "C++ low level curriculum" posts.