Home of The JavaSpecialists' Newsletter

270Excursions into Deduplication

Author: Dr. Heinz M. KabutzDate: 2019-05-31Java Version: 8Category: Performance
 

Abstract: When are Strings deduplicated? How can we find out whether they are of any benefit in our application? How much does it cost in terms of CPU? We try to show you how we can get this from the deduplication statistics provided by the JVM.

 

Welcome to the 270th edition of The Java(tm) Specialists' Newsletter, sent to you from beautiful Crete. A very special welcome to my friends in Suriname, bringing the countries that read this newsletter to at least 149.

This week at jPrime: "Your newsletter is the most enjoyable thing for me to do on the toilet." I kid you not. Only complaint was that the default email format that I've been using is not responsive, so the fonts were impossible to read on his phone. The web version works fine. OK, ok, way too much information, I know. And the "most enjoyable thing"? Um, alright then. Well, here goes. I've tried to make the email more responsive and readable on cell phones. Let's see if it works.

javaspecialists.teachable.com: Please visit our new self-study course catalog to see how you can upskill your Java knowledge.

Excursions into Deduplication

After my talk at jPrime 2019, which you can watch here, someone asked me how one could tell how effective string deduplication would be in their application. To me the best way of measuring is to look at the response rates and memory consumption. In the end, what does it matter if we have saved memory, but our performance is worse? Memory is cheap. On the other hand, less memory consumption leads to less reachable objects, and can thus give us better speed.

After wondering how I could get a peek into the deduplication data, I remembered that there was a flag -XX:+PrintStringDeduplicationStatistics in Java 8. This changed to -Xlog:stringdedup*=debug with Java 9 unified logging. Each time that deduplication is triggered, it outputs a ream of useful information such as:

Concurrent String Deduplication (90.162s)
Concurrent String Deduplication 72.0B->24.0B(48.0B)
    avg 59.8% (90.162s, 90.162s) 0.020ms
  Last Exec: 0.020ms, Idle: 16740.738ms, Blocked: 0/0.000ms
    Inspected:               3
      Skipped:               0(  0.0%)
      Hashed:                0(  0.0%)
      Known:                 0(  0.0%)
      New:                   3(100.0%)     72.0B
    Deduplicated:            2( 66.7%)     48.0B( 66.7%)
      Young:                 2(100.0%)     48.0B(100.0%)
      Old:                   0(  0.0%)      0.0B(  0.0%)
  Total Exec: 3/1.014ms, Idle: 3/89992.409ms, Blocked: 0/0.000ms
    Inspected:            8457
      Skipped:               0(  0.0%)
      Hashed:              610(  7.2%)
      Known:              5640( 66.7%)
      New:                2817( 33.3%)     86.7K
    Deduplicated:         1810( 64.3%)     51.8K( 59.8%)
      Young:              1810(100.0%)     51.8K(100.0%)
      Old:                   0(  0.0%)      0.0B(  0.0%)
  Table
    Memory Usage: 187.7K
    Size: 4096, Min: 1024, Max: 16777216
    Entries: 6644, Load: 162.2%, Cached: 0, Added: 6645, Removed: 1
    Resize Count: 2, Shrink Threshold: 2730(66.7%),
    Grow Threshold: 8192(200.0%)
    Rehash Count: 0, Rehash Threshold: 120, Hash Seed: 0x0
    Age Threshold: 3
  Queue
    Dropped: 0
  

Every time a young GC is triggered (also called scavenge or partial GC), the age of our survivors increases. Once they reach the tenuring threshold, they are moved from the young to the old regions. By default, strings are deduplicated once they reach age 3, thus at their third young GC. We don't want to do it earlier, as deduplication costs precious CPU cycles. If the string won't survive into old age, there is also no need to try save memory. If for some reason the string is prematurely promoted into old, then it is deduplicated early as well.

To try this all out, I wrote my DeduplicationExplorer. To get the most benefit, you'll have to run it yourself. You connect to it via telnet localhost 8080 and then send it text and commands. All the text is stored in an ArrayList. Here are the commands that we support:

  • print: shows the strings in the list, together with the value array references
  • clear: clears the strings from the list
  • ygc: causes a young GC
  • fgc: causes a full GC
  • close: closes the connection

Here is the code for DeduplicationExplorer. I recommend running it yourself:

import java.io.*;
import java.lang.management.*;
import java.lang.reflect.*;
import java.net.*;
import java.util.*;
// Java8: // -XX:+UseG1GC // -XX:+UseStringDeduplication // -XX:+PrintStringDeduplicationStatistics // -verbose:gc // Java11: // -XX:+UseStringDeduplication // -Xlog:stringdedup*=debug // -verbose:gc public class DeduplicationExplorer { public static void main(String... args) throws IOException { List<String> lines = new ArrayList<>(); Socket socket = new ServerSocket(8080).accept(); PrintStream out = new PrintStream( socket.getOutputStream(), true); out.println("Commands: clear, print, ygc, fgc, close"); BufferedReader in = new BufferedReader( new InputStreamReader( socket.getInputStream())); String line; while ((line = in.readLine()) != null) { System.out.println(line); switch (line) { case "clear": lines.clear(); break; case "print": print(lines); break; case "ygc": youngGC(); break; // young GC case "fgc": System.gc(); break; // full GC case "close": return; default: lines.add(line); } } }
private static void youngGC() { long collectionCount = YOUNG_GC.getCollectionCount(); do { // array is too big to be eliminated with escape analysis byte[] bytes = new byte[1024]; } while (YOUNG_GC.getCollectionCount() == collectionCount); }
private static void print(List<String> lines) { System.out.println("lines:"); lines.forEach(DeduplicationExplorer::print); }
private static void print(String line) { try { System.out.printf("\t\"%s\" - %s%n", line, VALUE.get(line)); } catch (IllegalAccessException e) { throw new IllegalStateException(e); } }
private final static Field VALUE;
static { try { VALUE = String.class.getDeclaredField("value"); VALUE.setAccessible(true); } catch (NoSuchFieldException e) { throw new Error(e); } }
private final static GarbageCollectorMXBean YOUNG_GC;
static { YOUNG_GC = ManagementFactory.getGarbageCollectorMXBeans() .stream() .filter(pool -> pool.getName().equals( "G1 Young Generation")) .findFirst() .orElseThrow(() -> new Error("Could not find G1 Young " + "Generation Garbage Collector MXBean")); } }

For example, I started the Oracle OpenJDK 12.0.1 with the following flags:

-XX:+UseStringDeduplication -Xlog:stringdedup*=debug -verbose:gc
  

I then connected with telnet localhost 8080 and sent it:

hello
hello
hello
print
  

On the program output, we saw this:

hello
hello
hello
print
lines:
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  "hello" - [B@37f8bb67
  "hello" - [B@49c2faae
  

As you see, the three strings each have their own byte[]. The hexadecimal number is the identity hash code, a random number that is fairly unique.

Next we send the command fgc - Full GC. In our DeduplicationExplorer, we see the GC event and the deduplication statistics.

If we now send the print command, we will see that all the strings point to the same byte[].

If we clear the ArrayList with command clear, and then issue a full GC with fgc, then the shared byte[] will be collected. If we send "hello" three more times and call fgc and print we will see something like:

fgc
    *snip* GC output and deduplication statistics *snip*
print
lines:
  "hello" - [B@2e0fa5d3
  "hello" - [B@2e0fa5d3
  "hello" - [B@2e0fa5d3
  

If the string happened to already exist in the JVM as a constant, then that will be the basis of our shared byte[]. For example, let's clear and then send the string "main" three times, followed by print. We see this:

clear
main
main
main
print
lines:
  "main" - [B@5010be6
  "main" - [B@685f4c2e
  "main" - [B@7daf6ecc
  

If we now issue a fgc and a print we see:

fgc
    *snip* GC output and deduplication statistics *snip*
print
lines:
  "main" - [B@1f7e245f
  "main" - [B@1f7e245f
  "main" - [B@1f7e245f
  

Note that the byte[] is none of those we had read from the BufferedReader. And if we clear and send "main" again and then issue a fgc and a print, we will see again

print
lines:
  "main" - [B@1f7e245f

Since we have a method called "main" in our JVM, all our strings are sharing its byte[].

Young GC

So far we have only considered full GC. However, I also have support for triggering a young GC with the command ygc. I'm pretty proud of that code, as I woke up at 5am and wrote it in my mind in my half sleep before dozing off again. Usually code that I write whilst dreaming does not work, but this does :-) I first find the garbage collector MXBean for the G1 Young Generation. I then loop whilst the collection count is the same and allocate 1k byte arrays. Escape analysis won't remove the heap allocation since the arrays are larger than 64. Here is my dreamy code again:

private static void youngGC() {
  long collectionCount = YOUNG_GC.getCollectionCount();
  do {
    // array is too big to be eliminated with escape analysis
    byte[] bytes = new byte[1024];
  } while (YOUNG_GC.getCollectionCount() == collectionCount);
} 
private final static GarbageCollectorMXBean YOUNG_GC;
static { YOUNG_GC = ManagementFactory.getGarbageCollectorMXBeans() .stream() .filter(pool -> pool.getName().equals( "G1 Young Generation")) .findFirst() .orElseThrow(() -> new Error("Could not find G1 Young " + "Generation Garbage Collector MXBean")); }

We now issue the following commands:

hello
hello
hello
ygc
hello
ygc
hello
ygc
print
  

Each time that we send the ygc we see a "Pause Young (Normal)" appear on the console. After the third ygc, we also see the deduplication statistics appear. The print now looks like this:

print
lines:
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  "hello" - [B@37f8bb67
  "hello" - [B@49c2faae
  

Thus the first three "hello" strings have been deduplicated, but not hte other two. If we issue another ygc and print, this now becomes:

print
lines:
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  "hello" - [B@49c2faae
  

And with the next ygc, the print yields:

print
lines:
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  

It all works how it is supposed to.

-XX:+AlwaysTenure

A rather weird flag in OpenJDK is -XX:+AlwaysTenure. It effectively does away with the survivor spaces and promotes all survivors from young to old. Whilst you would not want to use this in production, it is fun to turn it on for our experiment. If we now send the following:

hello
hello
hello
ygc
print
  

We will see similar output to what we saw with the call to System.gc():

    hello
hello
hello
ygc
[154.162s][info][gc] GC(0) Pause Young (Normal)
        *snip* GC output and deduplication statistics *snip*
print
lines:
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  "hello" - [B@5d099f62
  

Thank you for your support and for reading this newsletter.

Kind regards from Crete

Heinz

 

Comments

We are always happy to receive comments from our readers. Feel free to send me a comment via email or discuss the newsletter in our JavaSpecialists Slack Channel (Get an invite here)

When you load these comments, you'll be connected to Disqus. Privacy Statement.

Related Articles

Browse the Newsletter Archive

About the Author

Heinz Kabutz Java Conference Speaker

Java Champion, author of the Javaspecialists Newsletter, conference speaking regular... About Heinz

Superpack 2019

Superpack 2019 Our entire Java Specialists Training in one huge bundle more...
Java Training

We deliver relevant courses, by top Java developers to produce more resourceful and efficient programmers within their organisations.

Java Consulting

We can help make your Java application run faster and trouble-shoot concurrency and performance bugs...

Java Emergency?

If your system is down, we will review it for 15 minutes and give you our findings for just 1 € without any obligation.