By christian on Oct 18, 2012
When running Oracle SOA Suite with IBM JVMs on the AIX platform, we have seen performance slowdowns and/or memory leaks. On occasion, we have even encountered some OutOfMemoryError conditions and the concomittant Java coredump. If you are experiencing this issue, the resolution may be to configure
-Dsun.reflect.inflationThreshold=0 in your JVM startup parameters.
https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/java/library/j-nativememory-aix/ contains a detailed discussion of the IBM AIX JVM memory model, but I will summarize my interpretation and understanding of it in the context of SOA Suite, below.
Java ClassLoaders on IBM JVMs are allocated a native memory area into which they are anticipated to map such things as jars loaded from the filesystem. This is an excellent memory optimization, as the file can be loaded into memory once and then shared amongst many JVMs on the same host, allowing for excellent horizontal scalability on AIX hosts.
However, Java ClassLoaders are not used exclusively for loading files from disk. A performance optimization by the Oracle Java language developers enables reflectively accessed data to optimize from a JNI call into Java bytecodes which are then amenable to hotspot optimizations, amongst other things.
This performance optimization is called inflation, and it is executed by generating a
sun.reflect.DelegatingClassLoader instance dynamically to inject the Java bytecode into the virtual machine. It is generally considered an excellent optimization. However, it interacts very negatively with the native memory area allocated by the IBM JVM, effectively locking out memory that could otherwise be used by the Java process.
SOA Suite and WebLogic are both very large users of reflection code. They reflectively use many code paths in their operation, generating lots of DelegatingClassLoaders in normal operation. The IBM JVM slowdown and subsequent OutOfMemoryError are as a direct result of the Java memory consumed by the DelegatingClassLoader instances generated by SOA Suite and WebLogic. Java garbage collection runs more frequently to try and keep memory available, until it can no longer do so and throws OutOfMemoryError.
sun.reflect.inflationThreshold=0 disables this optimization entirely, never allowing the JVM to generate the optimized reflection code.
IBM JVMs are susceptible to this issue primarily because all Java ClassLoaders have this native memory allocation, which is shared with the regular Java heap. Oracle JVMs don't automatically give all ClassLoaders a native memory area, and my understanding is that jar files are never mapped completely from shared memory in the same way as IBM does it. This results in different behaviour characteristics on IBM vs Oracle JVMs.