On Windows or Linux, when a program allocates memory, a whole bunch of stuff happens, things like virtualisation and security related features that have no relevance to arduino, and the bit that I'm interested in, memory management:
There will be some code, that will look at the alignment and size requirements of the allocation request, look at the pool of memory it has access to, find a space big enough, make a note of the allocation (which also uses some amount of memory) and then return a pointer to the allocated space back to the calling function.
Is there a custom malloc implementation for each device, or does it come with the arduino toolchain (and does that mean Arduino has a different implementation from Teensy, or avr from sam?), or is there some magical default implementation supplied by the compiler? What kind of memory overhead is incurred with every allocation? How easy is it to override this functionality and implement your own (out of morbid curiosity or tendency towards masochistic endeavours)?