Tuesday Oct 25, 2011

Perspectives on Garbage Collection

In a new article, part of the Developer Insight series, and titled “The Developer Insight Series, Part 6: Perspectives on Garbage Collection,” now up on otn/java, three leading Java developers offer insight into garbage collection.

Oracle Lab’s Ron Goldman notes, that, “Although automatic memory management has existed for more than 50 years, a lot of people still don't want it in their systems because it seems inelegant. It just strikes people as wrong – ‘It's my memory. I should be releasing it when I know it's no longer being used.’ Theoretically, that might be true, but in practice, programmers continue to forget to free up memory when they are done with it, or, even worse, try to free it up while it's still in use. The results? Buggy code that is apt to crash unexpectedly.”

Java Champion Kirk Pepperdine observes that, “Even though collection of very short-lived objects is almost free, high rates of object churn can still result in very inefficient GC numbers. Sometimes, the problem is simply that the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) doesn't have enough heap space. Monitoring GC activity will give you the hints you need for a successful heap-sizing exercise…”

And Oracle’s GC expert Tony Printesiz takes on eight myths about garbage collection, four of which are:

1. Reference counting GC will solve all my latency problems.
2. malloc and free will always perform better than GC.
3. Finalizers should be called promptly, as soon as objects become unreachable.
4. GC will eliminate all memory leaks.

The article provides a good context for developers to collect their thoughts about garbage. ;)

Read the complete article here.

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