Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Stackify Blog, Liz McMillan, APM Blog, Jnan Dash, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Java IoT, Microservices Expo

Java IoT: Article

Major Garbage Collections - Separating Myth from Reality

It is actually quite hard to find any definition of major and minor GCs

In a recent article we have shown how the Java Garbage Collection MXBean Counters have changed for the Concurrent Mark-and-Sweep Collector. It now reports all GC runs instead of just major collections. That prompted me to think about what a major GC actually is or what it should be. It is actually quite hard to find any definition of major and minor GCs. This well-known Java Memory Management Whitepaper only mentions  in passing that a full collection is sometimes referred to as major collection.

Stop-the-world
One of the more popular definitions is that a major GC is a stop-the-world event. While that is true, the reverse is not. It is often forgotten that every single GC, even a minor one, is a stop-the-world event. Young Generation collections are only fast if there is a high mortality rate among young objects. That’s because they copy the few surviving objects and the number of objects to check is relatively small compared to the old generation. In addition they are done in parallel nowadays. But even the Concurrent GC has to stop the JVM during the initial mark the remark.



That brings us immediately to the second popular definition.

The Old Generation GC
Very often GC runs in the old generation are considered major GCs. When you read the tuning guides or other references, GC in the tenured or old generation is oft equaled with a major GC. While every major GC cleans up the old generation, not all runs  can be considered major. The CMS (Concurrent Mark and Sweep) was designed to run concurrent to the application. It executes more often than the other GCs and only stops the application for very short periods of time. Until JDK6 Update 23 its runs were not reported via its MXBean. Now they are, but the impact on the application has not changed and for all intents and purposes I would not consider them major runs. In addition not all JVMs have a generational Heap, IBM and JRockit both feature a continuous Heap on default. We would still see GC runs that we would either consider Minor or Major. The best definition that we could come up with is that a major GC stops the world for a considerable amount of time and thus has major impact on response time. With that in mind there is exactly one scenario that fits all the time: a Full GC.

Full GC
According to the before-mentioned white paper a Full GC will be triggered whenever the heap fills up. In such a case the young generation is collected first followed by the old generation. If the old generation is too full to accept the content of the young generation, the young generation GC is omitted and the old generation GC is used to collect the full heap, either in parallel or serial. Either way the whole heap is collected with a stop-the-world event. The same is true for a continuous heap strategy, as apart from the concurrent strategy every GC run is a Full GC!

In case of the concurrent GC the old generation should never fill up. Hence it should never trigger a major GC, which is of course the desired goal. Unfortunately the concurrent strategy will fail if too many objects are constantly moved into the old generation, the old generation is too full or if there are too many allocations altogether. In that case it will fall back on one of the other strategies and in case of the Sun JVM will use the Serial Old Collector. This in turn will of course lead to a collection of the complete heap. This was exactly what was reported via the MXBean prior to Update 23.

Now we have a good and useful definition of a major GC. Unfortunately since JDK6 Update 23 we cannot monitor for a major GC in case of the concurrent strategy anymore. It should also be clear by now that monitoring for major GCs might not be the best way to identify memory problems as it ignores the impact minor GCs have. In one of my next articles I will show how we can monitor the impact garbage collection has on the application in a better way.

Related reading:

  1. The impact of Garbage Collection on Java Performance While a major Collection certainly has a negative impact on performance...
  2. JDK6 Update 23 changes CMS Collection counters Stefan Frandl, Test Automation Team Lead at dynaTrace, recently tested...
  3. Behind the Scenes of Serialization in Java When building distributed applications one of the central performance-critical components...
  4. How to identify IE Add-Ons such as Skype that impact Web Site Performance I occasionally get invited to do JavaScript/AJAX Performance Workshops. Last...

 

More Stories By Michael Kopp

Michael Kopp has over 12 years of experience as an architect and developer in the Enterprise Java space. Before coming to CompuwareAPM dynaTrace he was the Chief Architect at GoldenSource, a major player in the EDM space. In 2009 he joined dynaTrace as a technology strategist in the center of excellence. He specializes application performance management in large scale production environments with special focus on virtualized and cloud environments. His current focus is how to effectively leverage BigData Solutions and how these technologies impact and change the application landscape.

@ThingsExpo Stories
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...