Wednesday, August 27, 2014

JDK 8: UseCompressedClassPointers vs. UseCompressedOops

A new JVM option was introduced into JDK 8 after PermGen removal:
In this article, we will discuss the difference between  UseCompressedOops and UseCompressedClassPointers.

Default Values

As described in [2], you can find out the default values of UseCompressedClassPointers and UseCompressedOops:

     bool UseCompressedClassPointers           := true   {lp64_product}
     bool UseCompressedOops                    := true   {lp64_product}

Our platform is linux-x64 and these options are both set to be true based on ergonomics.

UseCompressedOops vs. UseCompressedClassPointers

CompressedOops are for the compression of pointers to objects in the Java Heap.  Class data is no
longer in the Java Heap and the compression of pointers to class data is done under the flag
UseCompressedClassPointers.  In next sections, we will discuss them in more details.

Oops and Compressed Oops

Oops are "ordinary" object pointers.  Specifically, a pointer into the GC-managed heap. Implemented as a native machine address, not a handle. Oops may be directly manipulated by compiled or interpreted Java code, because the GC knows about the liveness and location of Oops within such code.  Oops can also be directly manipulated by short spans of C/C++ code, but must be kept by such code within handles across every safepoint.

Compressed Oops represent managed pointers (in many but not all places in the JVM) as 32-bit values which must be scaled by a factor of 8 and added to a 64-bit base address to find the object they refer to in Java Heap.

Compressed Class Pointers

Objects (in its 2nd word) have a pointer  to VM Metadata class, which can be compressed.  If compressed, it uses a base which points to the Compressed Class Pointer Space.

Before we continue, you need to know what Metaspace and Compressed Class Pointer Space  are. A Compressed Class Pointer Space (which is logically part of Metaspace) is introduced for 64 bit platforms. Whereas the Compressed Class Pointer Space contains only class metadata, the Metaspace can contain all other large class metadata including methods, bytecode etc.

For 64 bit platforms, the default behavior is using compressed (32 bit) object pointers (-XX:+UseCompressedOops) and compressed (32 bit) class pointers (-XX:+UseCompressedClassPointers).  However, you can modify default settings if you like.  When you do  modify them, be warned that there is a dependency between the two options—i.e., UseCompressedOops must be on for UseCompressedClassPointers to be on.

To summarize it, the differences between Metaspace and Compressed Class Pointer Space are :[3]
  • Compressed Class Pointer Space contains only class metadata
    • InstanceKlass, ArrayKlass
      • Only when UseCompressedClassPointers true
      • These include Java virtual tables for performance reasons
  • Metaspace contains all other class metadata that can be large.
    • Methods, Bytecodes, ConstantPool ...



  1. HotSpot: Monitoring and Tuning Metaspace in JDK 8 (Xml and More)
  2. What Are the Default HotSpot JVM Values?
  3. Metaspace in Java 8 (good)  
  4. HotSpot Glossary of Terms 
  5. VM Class Loading
  6. Learn More About Performance Improvements in JDK 8 
  7. Garbage-First Garbage Collector Tuning
  8. Understanding Compressed References (JRockit)
    • Similar to HotSpot's CompressedOops, Jrockit uses -XXcompressedRefs command option.

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