JEP 132: More-prompt finalization

Kim Barrett kim.barrett at
Fri Jun 26 21:36:53 UTC 2015

On Jun 22, 2015, at 3:33 AM, Peter Levart <peter.levart at> wrote:
> Hi Kim,

Sorry, I just noticed you'd sent an update a few days ago.

I don't have time to look carefully today, but a few quick comments.

> On 06/09/2015 07:44 AM, Peter Levart wrote:
>> On 06/09/2015 04:03 AM, Kim Barrett wrote:
>>> On May 31, 2015, at 3:32 PM, Peter Levart <peter.levart at>
>>>  wrote:
>>>> So, for the curious, here's the improved prototype:
>>> While perusing the offered code (webrev.02) (not a careful review
>>> yet), I think I've found a serious bug:
>>> In
>>> in unhookPendingChunk
>>>  253             // assert == r;
>>>  254             // move a chunk of pending/discovered references to a
>>>  255             // temporary local r/next chain
>>> ...
>>>  262        = r;
>>> I think that assertion suggested at line 253 does not hold, and line
>>> 262 may damage a queue.
>>> […]
>>> I'm not sure why unhook is using the next field at all, rather than
>>> just continuing to use the discovered field.  […]
>> Ops, you're right. Explicit enqueue-ing is what skipped my mind since I've been 1st working on finalizers and then generalized the solution... I'm afraid to use the 'discovered' field since it is in the domain of VM and I think Java side can only reset it to null while holding the lock. I also would not like to add another field to Reference just to support "chunking". Perhaps the chunk could be formed as a re-usable array of references. Let me think about this some more to figure out how to solve it most elegantly...
>> I'll follow-up when I have something.
> I think I was too afraid to use the 'discovered' field. I now think the 'discovered' field is the right field to use to form "chunks" of pending references. If I read the VM reference handling code correctly, then 'discovered' field is treated as a normal instance field as far as GC is concerned as soon as the Reference is not active any more ( != null). All pending references found by Java code navigating 'pending' chain are already "de-activated" by GC when discovered ( == reference). So it is safe to manipulate the 'discovered' field in Java code.

Yes, that's what I had in mind.  The collector must treat the
discovered field that way, because once notified and added to the
pending list, a reference is mostly out of the hands of the collector
and the discovered field is just the link for the pending list, and
from then on is the responsibility of Java code to deal with.

>  Here's the modified prototype that uses 'discovered' field to form chunks of references:
> […]
> With this arrangement, I get even less CPU overhead when running the benchmark. Most probably because unhooking the chunk of pending references now doesn't involve writes to many fields - just two writes per chunk: the 'discovered' field of the last Reference in chunk is reset to null

That might be wrong, and the end marker for a list linked through
discovered is supposed to be a self-loop.  But I may be misremembering
or confusing with next-linked lists, and don't have time today to
examine the code.  I remember the discovery code cares about whether
that field is NULL or not, but it may not matter when the reference
has been deactivated (next field is non-NULL).

> The prototype contains other things as well - not all of them might be suitable for inclusion in JDK9. They could be selectively removed from it or tailored. But I think they deserve to be mentioned and considered:
> Using FJPool as a means to execute Finalizer(s) and other j.l.r.Cleaner(s) which enables easy scaling to more than one worker thread with less overhead than ReferenceQueue based processing.
> Public j.l.r.Cleaner interface. […]

There is already some ongoing discussion of this kind of thing.  I
think we should be encouraging folks to transition away from
finalize() to reference-based cleanup.  But the amount of boiler-plate
code needed to use references directly makes that not so appealing.  I
did a little prototyping there, but have handed off to Roger Riggs.

Roger mentioned that some of the feedback he'd received on the little
prototype I gave him was about the need for some sort of worker thread
pool for scaling.

> Public j.l.r.Finalizator is an example of a FinalReference based j.l.r.Cleaner. While [Phantom|Weak|Soft]Cleaner is more safe since it doesn't allow access to it's referent when fired, some JDK code (File[Input|Output]Stream for example) still uses finalization


It seems that for some applications finalize-based cleanup has a
substantial performance cost that is a complete waste.  A closed
stream still needs to be finalized, delaying reclamation of the memory
and pushing the associated final-reference through the various lists
and threads until the finalize() function finally gets called and
finds it has nothing to do.

PhantomReference-based cleanup allows the phantom reference to be
deregistered, cleared, and dropped as part of a close-like operation,
completely eliminating reference processing costs for a closed object.

> Are any of the features of this prototype interesting for you and worth pursuing further?

This mostly appears to be a question for core-libs; that's where the
proposed changes are located.  GC is involved mostly to ensure the
internal APIs between the collector and reference processing are

My personal opinion is that we should be working toward a day when we
can remove the finalize function, rather than trying to make the
infrastructure around it faster.  But clearly that day won't be soon,
if ever.

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