Golang Vs. Python Performance: Which Programming Language Is Better?


The debate over Golang vs Python performance rages on between proponents of Go programming language and Python users. This article provides a comprehensive comparison of the two languages. 

We analyse how Go’s compiled nature and built-in concurrency gives it a speed advantage over Python’s portable interpreted code for tasks like high-performance networking and parallel processing. We evaluate specific use cases where Golang outperforms vs where Python’s flexibility is preferable.

Golang's Performance Advantages

Golang stands out as a highly performant programming language due to its unique design and capabilities. As a statically typed, compiled language with built-in support for concurrency, Golang produces extremely fast, efficient and scalable programs. 

Though more complex and verbose than dynamic scripting languages, Go programming language provides unparalleled speed for certain workloads.

A : Statically Typed and Compiled Language

As a compiled, statically typed language, Golang code is converted directly into machine-level instructions optimised for the target CPU architecture. 

This contrasts with interpreted languages like Python where code is executed line-by-line by a runtime interpreter. Compilation confers several interrelated performance advantages:

  • Faster Code Execution: Machine code runs significantly faster than interpreted bytecode. Compilers apply optimizations unavailable at runtime.
  • Early Error Checking: Syntax, type errors and other issues are caught during compilation before deployment.
  • Optimised Variable Usage: The compiler tailors storage and access for statically typed variables.
  • No Runtime Type Checks: Unlike dynamic languages, no variable type validation at execution.
  • Production-Ready Binaries: Compilation outputs stand-alone, highly optimised binaries.

Together these attributes allow Golang to deliver blazing fast application performance. 

The strict compile-time checks and constraints do impose costs early in development compared to scripting. However, the resulting runtime speed ups often justify this tradeoff.

B : Built-In Concurrency Features

Concurrency refers to executing multiple processes or threads simultaneously in parallel. Efficient concurrency allows programs to fully exploit modern multi-core and multi-CPU hardware to achieve massive performance speed ups.

Golang has robust, built-in concurrency primitives including:

  • Lightweight Goroutines: Golang’s Goroutines provide a simple concurrency thread managed entirely in user-space. Applications can create thousands of concurrent Goroutines with very low overhead vs kernel threads.
  • Synchronized Channels: Channels provide synchronised communication queues between Goroutines avoiding nasty races.
  • Lower-Level Options: Atomic packages allow fine-grained low-level control over memory access for custom concurrency.
  • Efficient Multiplexing: The Golang runtime multiplexes Goroutines across OS threads using an efficient m:n scheduling strategy avoiding system call costs.

Together these structures make writing highly parallel and massively concurrent programs far simpler in Golang than most other languages.

C : Excellent for Networked and Parallel Computing Tasks

With its lean runtime and advanced concurrency capabilities, Golang excels at compute-intensive workloads including:

  • CPU-Bound Scientific Computing: Parallelize expensive numerical models across multiple cores for faster results.
  • Multi-Core Data Processing: Process larger datasets quicker by dividing work across threads.
  • High-Performance Server Apps: Minimise latency while handling massive traffic for real-time web services over TCP or UDP.
  • Scalable Network Software: Leverage non-blocking async I/O with custom event loops along with parallelism for excellent throughput.
  • Distributed Systems: Build large-scale production systems more easily by handling failure, replication and deployment challenges.

D : More Complex but Extremely Fast

There’s no doubt Golang forces early complexity tradeoffs. However, the performance gains often make this cost well worth it for software where speed and scale matter more than development time. Considerations include:

  • Verbose Syntax: Golang requires more explicit code and error handling increasing lines of code.
  • Compilation Cycles: The compile-link-execute cycle impacts rapid iteration during development vs scripting.
  • Concurrency Learning Curve: Getting to grips with channels, goroutines and threads takes time for engineers used to serial code.
  • Blazing Fast Performance: The effort pays dividends for production infrastructure and performance-critical applications.

Strengths of Python

While Python lags behind compiled languages like Golang in raw performance, it excels in developer productivity, quicker iteration times, and its vast ecosystem. 

Python strikes an effective balance between rapid scripting and performant applications. Its interpreted nature, dynamic typing, deep libraries and focus on readability support faster development across countless domains even if runtime speed suffers relative to Go programming language.

A : Interpreted Nature Allows for Rapid Prototyping

As an interpreted, scripting language, Python offers unmatched agility via:

  • No Compilation: Code executes immediately line-by-line without lengthy build steps
  • REPL Support: Interactive consoles enable evaluating snippets in real time
  • Faster Testing Cycles: Changes take effect instantly without recompilation
  • Exploratory Coding: Scripting facilitates a creative, feedback-driven programming style

Together these facets support exceptionally fast prototyping compared to compiled languages.

B : Dynamic Typing Makes Development Faster

By deferring type checks until runtime, dynamic typing delivers tangible productivity advantages:

  • Less Code: No type declarations or conversion boilerplate code
  • Quicker Refactoring: Types can change freely without cascading changes
  • Metaprogramming: Powerful metaclasses and runtime inspection support clever abstractions
  • Gradual Typing: Type hints provide optional static checking without obligation

The flexibility of dynamic types accelerates development in Python.

C : Readability and Vast Libraries Support Quicker Delivery

Python’s developer experience also speeds delivery of production applications:

  • Readable Code: Python’s clean, consistent syntax and sensible semantics aid comprehension
  • Batteries Included: Extensive standard library for common tasks lowers lines of code
  • Mature Ecosystem: Myriad high-quality third-party libraries minimise reinventing the wheel
  • Productive Coding: Emphasis on programmer happiness makes coding in Python enjoyable

Together these factors improve developer productivity significantly.

D : Slower Execution Speeds but Good Enough Performance

The advantages above do result in slower runtime performance vs compiled languages. However, Python strikes a reasonably performant balance for many applications:

  • Good Enough for Many Workloads: Performance sufficient for scripts, web backends, data applications, machine learning, scientific computing etc. despite being slower.
  • Performance Optimization Avenues: Just-in-time compilation, type hinting, using higher-performance libraries available for bottlenecks.
  • Premature Optimization Concerns: Developer productivity is often more important than absolute runtime performance.

Performance Comparison: Golang Vs. Python

Both Golang (Go) and Python are popular open-source programming languages used for a variety of purposes like web development, machine learning, data analysis etc. However, they have some similarities and differences when it comes to factors like speed, use cases, syntax and more. 

Let’s do a thorough comparison on the performance of Golang vs Python:

A : Execution Speed

Go is a compiled language whereas Python is an interpreted language. Compiled languages are converted directly into machine code that the processor can execute. Interpreted languages like Python have an interpreter that executes the code line-by-line by translating it into machine code. 

This key difference gives Go the edge in terms of raw execution speed. Benchmarks show that Go code can execute about 4-10x faster than similar Python code in CPU-bound tasks. This performance gap widens with larger codebases because Go compiles the entire program down to machine code before execution while Python interprets line-by-line continuously.

B : Startup Time

Startup time refers to the time taken to initialise the runtime environment and libraries required for the program. Go has a much faster startup time than Python. Go has a minimal runtime resulting in very fast startup times – often a few milliseconds. 

In contrast, Python has relatively heavier runtimes that load many builtin modules/libraries increasing initial startup overhead. Python programs can take up to 50-100x more time to start up compared to similar Go programs.

C : Memory Utilisation

Go uses memory very efficiently as it was designed with memory safety and efficiency as primary goals. Python’s memory usage is higher in comparison due to factors like dynamic typing, in-memory bytecode interpretation etc.

Benchmarks show Go programs having about 4-5x lower memory consumption compared to comparable Python implementations especially for larger codebases. This allows Go programs to scale better for apps requiring high performance.

D : Concurrency & Parallelism

Go was built from the ground up for concurrency using goroutines and channels resulting in easy parallelization. Python also supports concurrency via threads, multiprocessing etc but the options are more limited compared to Go.

Go can concurrently run 100K goroutines in a fraction of memory that Python would need for a similar number of threads/processes. So Go scales very efficiently for highly parallel workloads. Python concurrency also has issues like GIL that limit scaling.

E : Compiler Errors

Go is compiled statically typed language so it detects errors like type mismatches, undefined variables etc at compile time itself before creating the executable binary. This results in faster debugging and deployment.

Python is dynamically typed and errors are only detected at runtime which increase development feedback cycles. The runtime errors can also result in application downtimes in production if not correctly handled.

Also Read: Software Development Lifecycle: Stages, Methodologies & Tools

Use Cases and Factors to Consider

While benchmarks provide quantitative performance insights, real-world usage involves balancing many factors. Golang excels for infrastructure demanding high speed, low latency and massive scalability. 

Meanwhile, Python promotes more agile development cycles across countless domains despite moderate execution performance. There are no universally superior options – weigh goals and constraints carefully when deciding between the two.

A : Golang Performance Sweet Spots

Go programming language’s ruthless performance focus makes it suitable for software where speed, efficiency and scale dominate. Example domains include:

  • High-Traffic Web Services: Achieve extremely low latency while handling hundreds of thousands of requests per second with Golang’s lightweight threads.
  • Real-Time Data Processing: Ingest, transform and route high-volume streaming data pipelines with minimal delays leveraging concurrency.
  • Scientific & Math Computing: Parallelize complex simulations and computational algorithms efficiently across multiple cores and GPUs.
  • Containerized Microservices: Maximise deployment density per host and achieve tiny resource overhead through Golang’s small memory footprint.

Golang shines for these server, cloud and backend workloads where fast responses and throughput using lean resources matters most.

B : Python Productivity Strongholds

Despite moderate runtime performance, Python remains suitable for countless applications thanks to its well-rounded capabilities:

  • Rapid Prototyping: Quickly build models, showing basic functionality for early validation. Python’s scripting avoids lengthy compile cycles.
  • Data Analysis Pipelines: Leverage Python’s vast data science stack like NumPy, Pandas, SciPy for cleaning, visualisation and statistical modelling.
  • General Scripting: Simpler, more readable code to automate workflows, system administration tasks and testing.
  • Education: Teach coding basics, data science fundamentals or intro computer science concepts given Python’s approachability and breadth.

For these domains, developer productivity frequently outweighs maximising performance.

C : Additional Trade Off Considerations

Additional factors warrant consideration for a holistic comparison:

  • Ecosystem Maturity: Python has far more libraries and community support than the younger Golang.
  • Readability Differences: Python promotes comprehension while Golang is comparatively verbose.
  • Developer Experience: Python emphasises coder happiness more than the stricter Golang.
  • Existing Team Skills: Building on experience matters more than retraining for new tools.

To Sum Up

In closing, while benchmarks in the Golang vs Python debate show Golang surpassing Python in raw performance metrics like speed and efficiency thanks to compilation and optimization, Python leads for developer productivity goals with faster coding cycles, readability and availability of libraries. 

There are no universally superior choices between these languages – the decision depends wholly on prioritising performance, complexity, ecosystem maturity and business goals for your specific application. 

For assistance navigating these nuanced tradeoffs, contact Extended Web AppTech, an expert technology consultancy with over 10 years of experience delivering high-quality solutions spanning mobile, web and backend development. 

Our disciplined Agile delivery model produces robust systems tuned to each client’s unique requirements in alignment with their objectives to empower world-changing innovations.

More Blogs...