The point of peel_ref is to dereference tags; if the base
object is not a tag, then we can return early without even
loading the object into memory.

This patch accomplishes that by checking sha1_object_info
for the type. For a packed object, we can get away with just
looking in the pack index. For a loose object, we only need
to inflate the first couple of header bytes.

This is a bit of a gamble; if we do find a tag object, then
we will end up loading the content anyway, and the extra
lookup will have been wasteful. However, if it is not a tag
object, then we save loading the object entirely. Depending
on the ratio of non-tags to tags in the input, this can be a
minor win or minor loss.

However, it does give us one potential major win: if a ref
points to a large blob (e.g., via an unannotated tag), then
we can avoid looking at it entirely.

Signed-off-by: Jeff King <>
This optimization is the one that gave me the most pause. While
upload-pack does call peel_ref on everything, the other callers all
constrain themselves to refs/tags/. So for many projects, we will be
calling it mostly on annotated tags, and it may be a very small net
loss. But in practice, it will not matter for most projects with a sane
number of normal tags, and saving even one accidental giant blob load
can have a huge impact.

 refs.c | 11 +++++++++--
 1 file changed, 9 insertions(+), 2 deletions(-)

diff --git a/refs.c b/refs.c
index f672ad9..02e47b1 100644
--- a/refs.c
+++ b/refs.c
@@ -1225,8 +1225,15 @@ fallback:
-       o = parse_object(base);
-       if (o && o->type == OBJ_TAG) {
+       o = lookup_unknown_object(base);
+       if (o->type == OBJ_NONE) {
+               int type = sha1_object_info(base, NULL);
+               if (type < 0)
+                       return -1;
+               o->type = type;
+       }
+       if (o->type == OBJ_TAG) {
                o = deref_tag_noverify(o);
                if (o) {
                        hashcpy(sha1, o->sha1);

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