Oct 11, 2017

Understanding JVM: Memory Areas in JVM - Part 1

Whenever JVM load and run a Java program, it needs memory to store several things like bytecode, objects, variables, etc. Total JVM memory is organized into following:

  • Method Area
  • Heap Area
  • Stack Area
  • PC Registers
  • Native Method Stack

1. Method Area

  • It is created at the time of JVM startup.
  • .class file's binary information is stored into method area.
  • Static variables are stored in method area.
  • Data inside method area is not thread safe.
  • Method area is not contiguous memory.
  • For every JVM, one method area is available.
  • Constant pools of a class are store inside method.

2. Heap Area

  • There is one heap area per JVM.
  • Like method area, it is also created at the time of JVM startup.
  • Need not be contiguous memory.
  • Objects and corresponding instance variables are stored in the heap area.
  • Every array in Java is object only, hence arrays will also be stored in heap area.
  • Heap area can be accessed by multiple threads, and hence data in heap area is not thread safe.
Program to Display heap memory statistics
Heap memory statistics can be captured using Runtime instance. Runtime class is present in java.lang package. It is a singleton class.
Following code snippet demonstrate how Runtime object can be obtained and used to get heap statistics:

package com.javaterritory;

public class MemoryTest {

 public static void main(String[] args) {
  Runtime r = Runtime.getRuntime(); // get instance of Runtime
  System.out.println("Max memory: " + r.maxMemory()); // prints memory (number of bytes) allocaed to JVM
  System.out.println("Total memory: " + r.totalMemory()); // prints initial memory (in bytes) allocated to JVM
  System.out.println("Free memory: " + r.freeMemory()); // prints the free memory 

Following were the results when I executed it on my machine:

Max memory: 3797417984
Total memory: 257425408
Free memory: 254741016

How to set maximum and minimum heap size
Following JVM arguments can be used to configuring heap size;
-Xmx 512m : to set maximum heap size to 512 mb
-Xms 64m : to set initial heap size to 64 mb

This is it for Method and Heap area. Next section will cover the stack memory area.
If you like reading our article, connect with us at +Java Territory  / Java territory to stay updated.

String intern method - Java 6, 7 and 8

This article will describe how String.intern method was implemented in Java 6 and what changes were made in it in Java 7 and Java 8.

String pooling

String pooling (aka string canonicalisation) is a process of replacing several String objects with equal value but different identity with a single shared String object. You can achieve this goal by keeping your own Map<String, String> (with possibly soft or weak references depending on your requirements) and using map values as canonicalised values. Or you can use String.intern()method which is provided to you by JDK.
At times of Java 6 using String.intern() was forbidden by many standards due to a high possibility to get an OutOfMemoryException if pooling went out of control. Oracle Java 7 implementation of string pooling was changed considerably. You can look for details at http://bugs.sun.com/view_bug.do?bug_id=6962931 and http://bugs.sun.com/view_bug.do?bug_id=6962930.

String.intern() in Java 6

In those good old days all interned strings were stored in the PermGen – the fixed size part of heap mainly used for storing loaded classes and string pool. Besides explicitly interned strings, PermGen string pool also contained all literal strings earlier used in your program (the important word here is used – if a class or method was never loaded/called, any constants defined in it will not be loaded).
The biggest issue with such string pool in Java 6 was its location – the PermGen. PermGen has a fixed size and can not be expanded at runtime. You can set it using -XX:MaxPermSize=N option. As far as I know, the default PermGen size varies between 32M and 96M depending on the platform. You can increase its size, but its size will still be fixed. Such limitation required very careful usage of String.intern – you’d better not intern any uncontrolled user input using this method. That’s why string pooling at times of Java 6 was mostly implemented in the manually managed maps.

String.intern() in Java 7

Oracle engineers made an extremely important change to the string pooling logic in Java 7 – the string pool was relocated to the heap. It means that you are no longer limited by a separate fixed size memory area. All strings are now located in the heap, as most of other ordinary objects, which allows you to manage only the heap size while tuning your application. Technically, this alone could be a sufficient reason to reconsider using String.intern() in your Java 7 programs. But there are other reasons.

String pool values are garbage collected
Yes, all strings in the JVM string pool are eligible for garbage collection if there are no references to them from your program roots. It applies to all discussed versions of Java. It means that if your interned string went out of scope and there are no other references to it – it will be garbage collected from the JVM string pool.
Being eligible for garbage collection and residing in the heap, a JVM string pool seems to be a right place for all your strings, isn’t it? In theory it is true – non-used strings will be garbage collected from the pool, used strings will allow you to save memory in case then you get an equal string from the input. Seems to be a perfect memory saving strategy? Nearly so. You must know how the string pool is implemented before making any decisions.

JVM string pool implementation in Java 6, 7 and 8

The string pool is implemented as a fixed capacity hash map with each bucket containing a list of strings with the same hash code. Some implementation details could be obtained from the following Java bug report: http://bugs.sun.com/view_bug.do?bug_id=6962930.
The default pool size is 1009 (it is present in the source code of the above mentioned bug report, increased in Java7u40). It was a constant in the early versions of Java 6 and became configurable between Java6u30 and Java6u41. It is configurable in Java 7 from the beginning (at least it is configurable in Java7u02). You need to specify -XX:StringTableSize=N, where N is the string pool map size. Ensure it is a prime number for the better performance.
This parameter will not help you a lot in Java 6, because you are still limited by a fixed size PermGen size. The further discussion will exclude Java 6.

Java7 (until Java7u40)

In Java 7, on the other hand, you are limited only by a much higher heap size. It means that you can set the string pool size to a rather high value in advance (this value depends on your application requirements). As a rule, one starts worrying about the memory consumption when the memory data set size grows to at least several hundred megabytes. In this situation, allocating 8-16 MB for a string pool with one million entries seems to be a reasonable trade off (do not use 1,000,000 as a -XX:StringTableSize value – it is not prime; use 1,000,003 instead).
You must set a higher -XX:StringTableSize value (compared to the default 1009) if you intend to actively use String.intern() – otherwise this method performance will soon degrade to a linked list performance.
I have not noticed a dependency from a string length to a time to intern a string for string lengths under 100 characters (I feel that duplicates of even 50 character long strings are rather unlikely in the real world data, so 100 chars seems to be a good test limit for me).
Here is an extract from the test application log with the default pool size: time to intern 10.000 strings (second number) after a given number of strings was already interned (first number);Integer.toString( i ), where i between 0 and 999,999 were interned:
0; time = 0.0 sec
50000; time = 0.03 sec
100000; time = 0.073 sec
150000; time = 0.13 sec
200000; time = 0.196 sec
250000; time = 0.279 sec
300000; time = 0.376 sec
350000; time = 0.471 sec
400000; time = 0.574 sec
450000; time = 0.666 sec
500000; time = 0.755 sec
550000; time = 0.854 sec
600000; time = 0.916 sec
650000; time = 1.006 sec
700000; time = 1.095 sec
750000; time = 1.273 sec
800000; time = 1.248 sec
850000; time = 1.446 sec
900000; time = 1.585 sec
950000; time = 1.635 sec
1000000; time = 1.913 sec
These test results were obtained on Core i5-3317U@1.7Ghz CPU. As you can see, they grow linearly and I was able to intern only approximately 5,000 strings per second when the JVM string pool size contained one million strings. It is unacceptably slow for most of applications having to handle a large amount of data in memory.

Oct 7, 2017

Understanding JVM: How Class Loader works?

Previous article was related to the types of class loader. I this post, we will see how these types works to load a class file. 

Class loader sub system follows Delegation Hierarchy algorithm for loading any class file. It is explained below.

Step 1: When request comes for a class file, JVM first look if is already loaded or not.
Step 2: If already loaded, JVM finds it in the memory area.
Step 3: If not, it requests class loader sub system to load the requested class file.
Step 4: Class loader sub system first sends the request to Application class loader.
Step 5: Application class loader delegates the request to Extension class loader.
Step 6: Extension class loader delegates it further to Bootstrap class loader.
Step 7: Bootstrap class loader searches class file in the bootstrap class path. If found, it is loaded.
Step 8: If not found, Bootstrap class loader delegates request to Extension class loader.
Step 9: Extension class loader searches it in the extension class path. If found, it gets loaded.
Step 10: If not found, request is again delegated to the  Application class loader which searches class file in the application class path and loads if found.
Step 11: If still not found, ClassNotFoundExcetpion is thrown.

Thus, Bootstrap class loader has the highest priority while Application class loader has the lowest. If same name class file is present in more than one class paths, higher priority class loader will be given the preference.

In next article, we will talk about how can create a custom class loader and what is the need for it.
If you like reading our articles, do like and share with other peoples. You can also connect with us at +Java Territory or Java Territory to stay updated.

Sep 27, 2017

Understanding JVM: Types of Class Loaders

Every class loader sub system contains 3 types of class loaders:
  1. Bootstrap/Primordial class loader
  2. Extension class loader
  3. Application class loader

Bootstrap class loader

It is responsible to load from bootstrap class path, where core java classes are available.
Bootstrap class path
String, StringBuffer, are the examples of classes that are loaded by bootstrap class loader.
Bootstrap class loader

  • comes with every JVM
  • implemented in native language not JAVA

Extension class loader

It is child of bootstrap class loader and responsible for loading classes from extension class path.
Extension class path
Extension class loader:
  • is implemented in JAVA language
  • can be found at sun.misc.Launcher$ExtClassLoader.class ($ means ExtClassLoader is an inner class of Launcher)

Application class loader

  • loads class files from application class path (examples: Student.class, Address.class)
  • child of Extension class loader
  • implemented in JAVA
  • located at sun.misc.Laucher$AppClassLoader.class ($ means AppClassLoader is inner class in Launcher)
Next article, How Class Loader Works, will explain in detail how these class loaders work together and in what order to load class files.
Join us at +Java Territory or facebook to stay updated with articles.

Aug 5, 2017

Understanding JVM: Class Loader Sub System - Part 2

First part of class loader sub system talked about the Loading of class files. Next task that is performed by the class loader sub system is Linking.


It performs 3 activities:
  • Verification
  • Preparation
  • Resolution


  • It is the process of ensuring binary representation of class file (output of Loading) is correct or not. Correct means if .class file is properly formatted or not, and it is generated by valid compiler or not.
  • Internally Byte Code Verifier, which is part of Class Loader Sub System, is responsible for this activity.
  • If verification fails, then it will throw the run-time exception, java.lang.VerifyError.


  • In preparation phase, JVM will allocate memory and assign default values for class level static variables. For example:
    • For int --> 0
    • For double --> 0.0
    • For boolean -->false
    • For object --> NULL
  • It is important to note here that only default values are assigned in this phase, actual values (as defined in the class will be assigned in initialization phase. That means if a class variable is declared as,  private static int count = 10, 0 will be assigned in the preparation phase.


  • All symbolic references are replaced with original direct references from method area. (Method area will be explained in coming articles). For example, consider following code:
 class Test {  
      public static void main(String[] args) {  
           String name = new String("Java Territory");  
           Student s1 = new Student();  
  • In the above example, class loader sub system loads Test.class, String.class, Student.class and Object.class. The names of these classes are stored in constant pool of Test class.
  • In Resolution phase, these names are replaced with actual references from the method area of JVM.
After Linking is done, Initialization of class files are done.

  • After Loading and Linking of class files are done, JVM will assign original values (as declared in the class file) to the class level static variables.
  • Also, static blocks are executed during this phase.
Following diagram explains the functions performed by Class Loader Sub System:
If any error comes Loading, Linking or Initialization, JVM will raise runtime exception, java.lang.LinkageError.

VerifyError is a child class of LinkageError.

This is all for Class Loader Sub System. In next article, I will talk about the Types of Class Loaders. Please post your inputs in the comments section and if you like reading our article, follow us +Java Territory / facebook to stay connected and get notifications for new articles.