Java Garbage Collection Types and Settings in Jelastic PaaS

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Java Garbage Collection Types and Settings in Jelastic PaaS

Let's clarify what garbage collection is, what it does for Java applications, and how it works within Jelastic PaaS.

· Java Zone ·
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Performance and price are two big considerations in application hosting that always matter. And, often, we question ourselves on how to decrease the spends, without affecting the performance of your apps at the same time. In this article, we'd like to address automatic memory management for Java applications hosted with Jelastic using garbage collection.

Let's clarify what garbage collection is, what it does for Java applications, and how it works within Jelastic PaaS.

Java Garbage Collection Overview

Garbage Collection is a form of automatic memory management. Its aim is to find data objects in memory that are no longer demanded and make their space available for reuse.

The created object uses some memory that remains allocated until there are references for the use of the object. When there are no references for an object, it is considered to be no longer required and the memory occupied by the object can be reclaimed. In such a way, you don't pay for unused resources and can cut your costs.

Jelastic supports the following GCs:

  • Parallel
    • ParNew GC-XX:+UseParNewGC) is a "stop-the-world" multithreaded Garbage Collector. Mostly, it is aimed to collect the young generation objects. Since the young generation is normally small in size, the ParNew does collection very fast and does not impact your application too much. In addition, ParNew has compaction of unused RAM that enables support of automatic vertical scaling - one of the prominent Jelastic features.
    • Parallel GC(-XX:+UseParallelGC) is used when the parallel collection method is required over young generation only. It cannot be applied along with ConcMarkSweep GC simultaneously unlike ParNew GC.
    • Utilizes a parallel "mark-and-compact" algorithm which catches all application threads and then handles labeling and subsequent compaction with multiple garbage collector threads.
  • ConcMarkSweep GC (-XX:+UseConcMarkSweepGC) collector is designed for applications that prefer shorter garbage collection pauses and can afford to share processor resources with the garbage collector while the application is running. It makes sense to use such a collector when applications requirements for time garbage collection pauses are low.
  • Serial GC (-XX:+UseSerialGC) performs garbage collection in a single thread and has the lowest consumption of memory among all GC types, but at the same time, it makes long pauses that can lead to application performance degradation.

Default JVM Options in Jelastic PaaS

By default, Jelastic PaaS uses G1 GC for JVM 8+ versions. For lower versions, it employs the ParNew GC. Also, for JVM versions below 12 Jelastic attaches jelastic-gc-agent.jar, which enables vertical scaling for older releases.

For JVM 12+ versions, the platform provides integrated vertical scaling to ensure G1 triggering with the following pre-set container:

  • G1PERIODIC_GC_INTERVAL=3000 Interval between garbage collection in milliseconds (15 minutes by default)
  • GC_SYS_LOAD_THRESHOLD_RATE=0.3 Custom multiplier to flexibly adjust the G1PeriodicGCSystemLoadThreshold value
  • G1PERIODIC_GC_SYS_LOAD_THRESHOLD={CPU_cores_number}*GC_SYS_LOAD_THRESHOLD_RATE Activates garbage collection if the average one-minute system load is below the set value. This condition is ignored if set as zero.

You can always check current settings of your Java process by executing ps -ax | grep javaYou will see something like this:  

/usr/java/libericajdk-12.0.1/bin/java.orig -server -XX:G1PeriodicGCSystemLoadThreshold=0.6 -XX:G1PeriodicGCInterval=900k -XX:+UseStringDeduplication –

XX:+UseG1GC -Xmaxf0.3 -Xminf0.1 -Xmx1638M -Xmn30M -Xms32M -jar jelastic-helloworld-1.1.war

Also, Jelastic automatically configures the following parameters:

  • Xmx – 80 percent of total available RAM in the container 
  • Xms – 32MB 
  • Xmn – 30MB

If the JVM version is higher than 12, the platform additionally configures the following Java options:

  • G1PeriodicGCSystemLoadThreshold=CPU_COUNT*0.330 percent of load average based on the number of CPU cores available in the container    
  • G1PeriodicGCInterval=900k15 minutes should pass since any previous garbage collection pause 

For more details, you can review the following script that manages the automatic configuration of the Java options.

Customization of GC Settings in Jelastic PaaS

If you believe that customization of default settings can improve performance or memory consumption, you can tune them according to the requirements of your application. We recommend customizing these configurations only if you fully understand the impact of such changes on your application behavior.

  • _JAVA_OPTIONS and JAVA_TOOL_OPTIONS — please read more about these options. .Java options can be used for changing default GC type, for example  _JAVA_OPTIONS="-XX:+UnlockExperimentalVMOptions -XX:+UseShenandoahGC" 
  • GC_DEF – a type of Garbage Collector, for example, GC_DEF=G1GC 
  • XMX_DEF_PERCENT – RAM percentage to be provided as XMX, for example, XMX_DEF_PERCENT=80  
  • XMX_DEF (or just XMX) – the maximum size for the Java heap memory, for example, if total RAM is 2048Mb, the XMX_DEF=1638 
  • XMS_DEF (or just XMS) — the initial Java heap size, for example, XMS=32M 
  • XMN_DEF — the size of the heap for the young generation, for example, XMN=30M 
  • G1PERIODIC_GC_INTERVAL (for OpenJDK 12/13 only) — a frequency of the G1 Periodic Collection in milliseconds ( G1PeriodicGCInterval – 15 minutes by default); set as 0 to disable, G1PERIODIC_GC_INTERVAL=900  
  • G1PERIODIC_GC_SYS_LOAD_THRESHOLD (for OpenJDK 12/13 only) – allows G1 Periodic Collection execution, if the average one-minute system load is below the set value. This condition is ignored if set as zero. By default, it is equal to the {CPU_cores_number}*{GC_SYS_LOAD_THRESHOLD_RATE}
  • GC_SYS_LOAD_THRESHOLD_RATE (for OpenJDK 12/13 only) — custom multiplier to flexibly adjust the G1PeriodicGCSystemLoadThreshold value (0.3 by default), for example, G1PERIODIC_GC_SYS_LOAD_THRESHOLD_RATE=0.3 
  • FULL_GC_AGENT_DEBUG – enables (true) or disables (false) the debug mode to track the Java GC processes in the logs, for example, FULL_GC_AGENT_DEBUG=true 
  • FULL_GC_PERIOD - Sets the interval (in seconds) between the full GC calls; 900 by default, i.e. 15 minutes, for example, FULL_GC_PERIOD=900  
  • MAXPERMSIZE — automatically defined only for those Java containers, which run JVM version lower than 8th and with an allocated amount of RAM>. In all other cases (i.e. if container scaling limit is less than 7 or it uses Java 8), this parameter is omitted. The actual value of the MaxPermSize setting is calculated based on memory amount divided by ten but cannot be set greater than the maximum of 256 MiB. For example, MAXPERMSIZE=163. 
  • XMINF_DEF — this parameter controls the minimum free space in the heap and instructs the JVM to expand the heap, if after performing garbage collection, it does not have at least an  XMINF_DEF value of free space. For example, XMINF_DEF=0.1 
  • XMAXF_DEF — this parameter controls how the heap is expanded and instructs the JVM to compact the heap if the amount of free space exceeds XMAXF_DEF value. For example, XMAXF_DEF=0.3 

Alternatively, all these parameters can be passed to Java process via variables.conf in the container.

All of the paths to config, executable, or log files can differ based on the Java server you use and can be accessed via Configuration File Manager or SSH.

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1. Open Conf files to configure your Java server.

2. For Tomcat, navigate to the opt > tomcat > conf > variables.conf file.

  1. In the opened variables.conf file, you can override the garbage collector default settings or even add another GC to replace the default one (G1)So if you want to use ShenandoahGC instead, simply add it to the variables.conf, as stated in the example below:



  1. After this, only the specified garbage collector will be used while starting your Java server without taking into consideration the number of allocated resources.
  2. Also, you can control how JVM handles its heap memory with other Java options stated in this file.

As a result of properly configured options, the GC can be observed in action via the Statistics tab.

That’s it! Enjoy resource efficiency while running your Java applications in the cloud? Try it yourself with Jelastic Multi-Cloud PaaS.

garbage collection ,gc ,java ,jelastic ,paas

Published at DZone with permission of Tetiana Fydorenchyk , DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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