Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Types of Java Garbage Collectors

In java, Garbage means unreferenced objects.

Garbage Collection is process of reclaiming the run-time unused memory automatically. In other words, it is a way to destroy the unused objects. Garbage collection is an automatic process in Java which relieves the programmer of object memory allocation and de-allocation chores.

Java has four types of garbage collectors:
1. Serial Garbage Collector
2. Parallel Garbage Collector
3. CMS Garbage Collector
4. G1 Garbage Collector.

Each of these four types has its own Pros and Cons. Most importantly, we can choose the type of garbage collector to be used by the JVM. This can be achieved by passing the choice as JVM argument. Each of these types differ largely and can provide completely different application performance therefore It is important to understand each of these types of garbage collectors and use it rightly based on the application.

1. Serial Garbage Collector
Serial garbage collector works by holding all the application threads. It is designed for the single-threaded environments. It uses just a single thread for garbage collection. This collector freezes all application threads whenever it’s working, which disqualifies it for all intents and purposes from being used in a server environment. It is best suited for simple command-line programs.

How to use it?
Turn on the -XX:+UseSerialGC JVM argument to use the serial garbage collector.

2. The Parallel / Throughput collector
Parallel garbage collector is also called as throughput collector. It is the default garbage collector of the JVM. Unlike serial garbage collector, its biggest advantage is that multiple threads scan to through and compact the heap. Similar to serial garbage collector this also freezes all the application threads while performing garbage collection. The downside to the parallel collector is that it will stop application threads when performing either a minor or full GC collection. The parallel collector is best suited for apps that can tolerate application pauses and are trying to optimize for lower CPU overhead caused by the collector.

The parallel garbage collector uses multiple threads to perform the young genertion garbage collection.

By default on a host with N CPUs, the parallel garbage collector uses N garbage collector threads in the collection. The number of garbage collector threads can be controlled with command-line options:
-XX:ParallelGCThreads=<desired number>

On a host with a single CPU the default garbage collector is used even if the parallel garbage collector has been requested. On a host with two CPUs the parallel garbage collector generally performs as well as the default garbage collector and a reduction in the young generation garbage collector pause times can be expected on hosts with more than two CPUs. The Parallel GC comes in two flavours.

Usage Cases
The Parallel collector is also called a throughput collector. Since it can use multiple CPUs to speed up the application throughput. This collector should be used when a lot of work need to be done and long pauses is acceptable.
For example, batch processing like printing reports or bills or performing a large number of database queries.

How to use it?
Turn on the -XX:+UseParallelGC JVM argument to use the serial garbage collector.

With this command line option you get a multi-thread young generation collector with a single-threaded old generation collector. The option also does single-threaded compaction of old generation.

Command line to start the ParallelGCDemo:
java -Xmx12m -Xms3m -Xmn1m -XX:PermSize=20m -XX:MaxPermSize=20m -XX:+UseParallelGC -jar c:\javademos\demo\jfc\Java2D\ParallelGCDemo.jar

With the -XX:+UseParallelOldGC option, the GC is both a multi threaded young generation collector and multithreaded old generation collector. It is also a multithreaded compacting collector. HotSpot does compaction only in the old generation. Young generation in HotSpot is considered a copy collector; therefore, there is no need for compaction.

Compacting describes the act of moving objects in a way that there are no holes between objects. After a garbage collection sweep, there may be holes left between live objects. Compacting moves objects so that there are no remaining holes. It is possible that a garbage collector be a non-compacting collector. Therefore, the difference between a parallel collector and a parallel compacting collector could be the latter compacts the space after a garbage collection sweep. The former would not.

Command line to start the ParallelOldGCDemo:
java -Xmx12m -Xms3m -Xmn1m -XX:PermSize=20m -XX:MaxPermSize=20m -XX:+UseParallelOldGC -jar c:\javademos\demo\jfc\Java2D\ParallelOldGCdemo.jar

The Concurrent Mark Sweep (CMS) Collector
CMS collector (also referred to as the concurrent low pause collector) collects the tenured generation. It attempts to minimize the pauses due to garbage collection by doing most of the garbage collection work concurrently with the application threads. Normally the concurrent low pause collector does not copy or compact the live objects. A garbage collection is done without moving the live objects. If fragmentation becomes a problem, allocate a larger heap.

Note: CMS collector on young generation uses the same algorithm as that of the parallel collector.

Usage Cases
The CMS collector should be used for applications that require low pause times and can share resources with the garbage collector.
Examples: Desktop UI application that respond to events, a web-server responding to a request or a database responding to queries.

Command Line Switches
To enable the CMS Collector use:

To set the number of threads use:

Command line example to start the ConcMarkSweepDemo:
java -Xmx12m -Xms3m -Xmn1m -XX:PermSize=20m -XX:MaxPermSize=20m -XX:+UseConcMarkSweepGC -XX:ParallelCMSThreads=2 -jar c:\javademos\demo\jfc\Java2D\ConcMarkSweepdemo.jar

The G1 Garbage Collector
The Garbage First or G1 garbage collector is available in Java 7 and is designed to be the long term replacement for the CMS collector. The G1 collector is a parallel, concurrent, and incrementally compacting low-pause garbage collector that has quite a different layout from the other garbage collectors described previously.

Command Line Switches
To enable the G1 Collector use:

Command line example to start the G1GCDemo:
java -Xmx12m -Xms3m -XX:+UseG1GC -jar c:\javademos\demo\jfc\Java2D\ G1GCDemo.jar

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