I was learning about using visual studio profiler to capture performance bottlenecks and kept on reading and hearing about these 2 terms. So what do they mean exactly?
So Google was my friend and I was able to find some pretty good explanations.
[source: msdn blog ]
Managed code is code that has its execution managed by the .NET Framework Common Language Runtime. It refers to a contract of cooperation between natively executing code and the runtime. This contract specifies that at any point of execution, the runtime may stop an executing CPU and retrieve information specific to the current CPU instruction address. Information that must be query-able generally pertains to runtime state, such as register or stack memory contents.
Contrast this to the unmanaged world: Unmanaged executable files are basically a binary image, x86 code, loaded into memory. The program counter gets put there and that’s the last the OS knows. There are protections in place around memory management and port I/O and so forth, but the system doesn’t actually know what the application is doing. Therefore, it can’t make any guarantees about what happens when the application runs.
Managed code is code written in one of over twenty high-level programming languages that are available for use with the Microsoft .NET Framework, including C#, J#, Microsoft Visual Basic .NET, Microsoft JScript .NET, and C++. All of these languages share a unified set of class libraries and can be encoded into an Intermediate Language (IL). A runtime-aware compiler compiles the IL into native executable code within a managed execution environment that ensures type safety, array bound and index checking, exception handling, and garbage collection.
By using managed code and compiling in this managed execution environment, you can avoid many typical programming mistakes that lead to security holes and unstable applications. Also, many unproductive programming tasks are automatically taken care of, such as type safety checking, memory management, and destruction of unneeded objects. You can therefore focus on the business logic of your applications and write them using fewer lines of code. The result is shorter development time and more secure and stable applications.
Managed code runs in the Common Language Runtime. The runtime offers a wide variety of services to your running code. In the usual course of events, it first loads and verifies the assembly to make sure the IL is okay. Then, just in time, as methods are called, the runtime arranges for them to be compiled to machine code suitable for the machine the assembly is running on, and caches this machine code to be used the next time the method is called. (This is called Just In Time, or JIT compiling, or often just Jitting.) As the assembly runs, the runtime continues to provide services such as security, memory management, threading, and the like. The application is managed by the runtime.
Unmanaged code compiles directly to machine code that ran on the machine where you compiled it—and on other machines as long as they had the same chip, or nearly the same. It didn’t get services such as security or memory management from an invisible runtime; it got them from the operating system. And importantly, it got them from the operating system explicitly, by asking for them, usually by calling an API provided in the Windows SDK. More recent unmanaged applications got operating system services through COM calls.