RFR JDK-8011200 (was 7143928) : (coll) Optimize for Empty ArrayList and HashMap

Vitaly Davidovich vitalyd at gmail.com
Wed Apr 10 23:33:30 UTC 2013

The null check jumps should be taken care of by branch prediction; as long
as they're predictable, penalty on OOO CPU is minimal.  So modern CPUs
don't like mispredicted branches I'd say, not just any jump.
On Apr 10, 2013 7:23 PM, "Remi Forax" <forax at univ-mlv.fr> wrote:

> On 04/10/2013 11:26 PM, Martin Buchholz wrote:
>> I'm willing to accept John as an authority on hotspot optimization.
>> I'm surprised that null checks aren't more close to free in part because
>> recent jsr166 code has been introducing more explicit null checks,
>> sometimes in code where the reference being checked is "known" not to be
>> null.
>> Martin
> null check that are never null are free when the interpreter has never (or
> rarely) sees a null
> at a specific callsite because in that case, the JIT doesn't generate a
> null check and
> let the CPU/MMU do a fault (the VM has a signal handler to be able to come
> back from death :)
> If you set a field to null, the profiler will see the null and will not
> use this optimization,
> that why in this case, it's better to have an empty array instead of null.
> BTW, the nullcheck in assembler cost you almost nothing anyway but the jump
> associated with it has a cost. Modern CPUs do not like to jump.
> Rémi
>> On Wed, Apr 10, 2013 at 11:12 AM, Mike Duigou <mike.duigou at oracle.com
>> >wrote:
>>  On Apr 9 2013, at 19:56 , Martin Buchholz wrote:
>>> The use of an empty array rather than null was suggested by John Rose who
>>> said:
>>> I recommend an empty array rather than null as a sentinel value for two
>>> reasons:
>>> 1. The JVM prefers to merge null checks into load or store instructions
>>> (so-called "implicit null checks") because it removes an explicit branch.
>>> But it only does so if the probability of nulls is zero or very low. But
>>> using null as a sentinel for common states (e.g., empty collection)
>>> defeats
>>> this optimization.
>>> 2. For power-of-two sized structures (HashMap) we can optimize away an
>>> array range check in the presence of a zero-length check.
>>> Since most uses of a variable-sized collection load and test the array
>>> length, the sentinel check can easily be overloaded onto this test. If
>>> null
>>> is not used, then the (safety-mandated) null check is (usually) merged
>>> into
>>> the load of the length. If the table is power-of-two-sized, then only the
>>> zero check remains, and the array range check may be removed. This is
>>> thought to be the best code for a frequent load from a possibly-empty
>>> collection.
>>> Mike asked, "what about empty collection?" This is a reasonable thing to
>>> use, but it has a cost. The JVM uses inline caches and type profiles to
>>> simplify its optimized code; these techniques "win" when at a given use
>>> point (individual call to Map.get, for example) there is only one class
>>> present, even if the interface is totally general. (This is the so-called
>>> "monomorphic" case.) If the application uses (say) only HashMaps for both
>>> empty and non-empty maps, then this optimization can win big. It can be
>>> broken, on the other hand, if the application begins to use one other
>>> type
>>> for some other case (such as empty maps). In these cases, it is better to
>>> overload the "am I empty?" test on some other loaded value, such as a
>>> null
>>> or (better) an array length.
>>> Mike

More information about the core-libs-dev mailing list