The Z Garbage Collector (ZGC) is set to boost its efficiency with the addition of Generational Capabilities, as declared by the completion of JEP 439 for JDK 21. The objective is to bolster app performance by enabling ZGC to create distinct generations for young and old objects, allowing it to gather young objects that are likely to be short-lived more often.
ZGC, accessible for production usage since JDK 15, is constructed for low latency and extensive scalability. It carries out most of its operations while the application threads are operational, pausing them only for brief periods. The pause times of ZGC are reliably clocked in microseconds, making it a top choice for tasks necessitating low latency and broad scalability.
The innovative generational ZGC is aimed at minimizing the chances of allocation stalls, decreasing the required heap memory overhead, and reducing garbage collection CPU overhead. These advantages are predicted to be achieved without a considerable decrease in throughput compared to non-generational ZGC. Essential features of non-generational ZGC, such as pause times not exceeding one millisecond and support for heap sizes ranging from a few hundred megabytes to numerous terabytes, will be retained.
The principle behind generational ZGC is the weak generational hypothesis which suggests that young objects are likely to be short-lived, while older objects tend to persist. By gathering young objects more often, ZGC can enhance application performance.
At its initial release, generational ZGC will coexist with non-generational ZGC. Users can opt for Generational ZGC by adding the -XX:+ZGenerational option to the -XX:+UseZGC command-line option. As time passes, Generational ZGC is set to become the default, with non-generational ZGC ultimately being phased out.
Generational ZGC divides the heap into two logical generations: one for newly allocated objects and one for long-lived objects. Each generation is collected independently, enabling ZGC to concentrate on gathering profitable young objects.
Generational ZGC presents several design concepts that set it apart from non-generational ZGC and other garbage collectors. These include no multi-mapped memory, optimized barriers, double-buffered remembered sets, relocations without additional heap memory, dense heap regions, large objects, and full garbage collections.
With the introduction of Generational ZGC, significant advancement has been made in enhancing the performance of applications on the Java platform. It introduces a more complex system that runs two garbage collectors concurrently and uses explicit code in load and store barriers. Despite the complexity, the ultimate goal is to fully replace non-generational ZGC with the generational version to minimize maintenance costs. Some non-generational workloads might experience a slight performance decline. However, the possible overhead is considered to be balanced out by the benefits of not having to frequently collect objects in the old generation. Future improvements and optimizations of Generational ZGC will be informed by benchmarks and user feedback.
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