Wednesday, September 24, 2008

JVM Wish List

I'm sitting at the JVM Summit at Sun for the next few days. It is an interesting group of about 80 people mostly represented by language implementers who target the JVM. Then their are these two guys (me and tim) who work on clustering of the JVM. Seems that our wish list for improvements to the JVM is a bit different than what others here are looking for. I asked one of the speakers about the proxify stuff below and he shot me down like I was Dick Cheney's pal on a quail hunt. Anyway, what the heck, here's my list.

Proxify - In Terracotta we dynamically swap objects in and out of the JVM and back to a server in order to create a Virtual Heap. We do this in a way that maintains Object Identity. We rely on a bevy of tricks to do this but it would be much more efficient if we could point to an object (or more than one object) and say proxify (or if a become: call existed we could use that as well, see Smalltalk for more info). All references to the original object would now be pointing to a light weight proxy. If someone touches the thing we would then inflate it back to being a full fledged object.

Array Instrumentation - Currently we instrument arrays in java by instrumenting the classes that reference the array. This is a bit messy and expensive and forces us to instrument classes that we might not otherwise need to. It also forces us to do more magic than I like to associate a shadow object with the array. Would be great if we could make this go away.

Native Method Replacement - When we want to muck with things like System.arraycopy we can't just wrap and replace because native methods get unhappy with that approach. So we have to replace at the caller. Would be nice if we didn't have to do that as much like arrays this is messy and forces us to instrument extra classes.

JVM support for meta-level monitoring of objects and code - This is not a new idea but it would be simpler and more efficient if we could ask the jvm to callback on us when things like field changes, lock acquires, field accesses occur on objects we care about. Would also be cool if we could associate meta-data with an instance (shadow objects) and ask for stats on a live instance (for our memory manager to make really good decisions on when to proxify). We do all these things now but they are complicated and more expensive then they need to be because we do them at the JRE level.

Good Hot swapping - If we can't have any of the above, good Hot swapping would also make things easier. We could decide what to instrument on the fly to simplify config a little bit and it would enable some optimizations that are very difficult to do now.

Solve the Int Size Problem - Currently arrays and all collections in Java are sized by an integer. As JVM's go more and more 64bit and people start creating collections larger than a couple billion in size it sure would be nice if they didn't bump up against this limitation.

That's it, my quick and dirty brainstormed wish list. Maybe some JVM fairy God Mother will some day grant me three wishes and bring some of these to reality.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Any news about pointer compression in the 64 bit OpenJDK? That is high on my wishlist.