HP Labs Technical Reports
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Reducing Garbage Collector Cache Misses
Keyword(s): garbage collection; memory management; cache; prefetch
Abstract: Cache misses are currently a major factor in the cost of garbage collection, and we expect them to dominate in the future. Traditional garbage collection algorithms exhibit relatively little temporal locality; each live object in the heap is likely to be touched exactly once during each garbage collection. We measure two techniques for dealing with this issue: prefetch-on-grey, and lazy sweeping. The first of these is new in this context. Lazy sweeping has been in common use for a decade. It was introduced as a mechanism for reducing paging and pause times; we argue that it is also crucial for eliminating cache misses during the sweep phase. Our measurements are obtained in the context of a non-moving garbage collector. Fully copying garbage collection inherently requires more traffic through the cache, and thus probably also stands to benefit substantially from something like the prefetch-on-grey technique. Generational garbage collection may reduce the benefit of these techniques for some applications, but experiments with a non-moving generational collector suggest that they remain quite useful.
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