More memory-efficient internal representation for Strings: call for more data

Xueming Shen xueming.shen at
Wed Dec 3 00:56:46 UTC 2014

On 12/02/2014 04:42 PM, Douglas Surber wrote:
> The most common operation on most Strings in query results is to do nothing. Just construct the String, hold onto it while the rest of the transaction completes, then drop it on the floor. Probably the next most common is to encode the chars to write them to an OutputStream or send them back to the database. I'd be curious how a compact representation would help those operations.

It depends on what inside those "query results". If most of them are ascii, only a small portion
are double byted user data (for example, it is true for most of the "utf8" xml files), you might
be able to save the cpu time/throughput by only copying half length of the bytes around their
life circle, especially "copy around" is the only operation they are carrying on.


> SPECjEnterprise is a widely used standard benchmark. It probably uses mostly (or even entirely) ASCII characters so it's not representative of many customers.
> My definition of "sane limits" might be different than yours. As far as I'm concerned String construction is already too slow and should be made faster by eliminating the char[] copy when possible.
> Douglas
> At 03:47 PM 12/2/2014, Aleksey Shipilev wrote:
>> Hi Douglas,
>> On 12/03/2014 02:24 AM, Douglas Surber wrote:
>> > String construction is a big performance issue for JDBC drivers. Most
>> > queries return some number of Strings. The overwhelming majority of
>> > those Strings will be short lived. The cost of constructing these
>> > Strings from network bytes is a large fraction of total execution time.
>> > Any increase in the cost of constructing a String will far out weigh any
>> > reduction in memory use, at least for query results.
>> You will also have to take into the account that shorter (compressed)
>> Strings allow for more efficient operations on them. This is not to
>> mention the GC costs are also usually "hidden" from the naive
>> performance estimations: even though you can perceive the mutator is
>> spending more time doing work, that might be offset by easier job for GC.
>> > All of the proposed compression methods require an additional scan of
>> > the entire string. That's exactly the wrong direction. Something like
>> > the following pseudo-code is common inside a driver.
>> >
>> >   {
>> >     char[] c = new char[n];
>> >     for (i = 0; i < n; i++) c[i] =;
>> >     return new String(c);
>> >   }
>> Good to know. We will be assessing the String(char[]) construction
>> performance in the course of this performance work. What would you say
>> is a characteristic high-level benchmark for the scenario you are
>> describing?
>> > The array copy inside the String constructor is a significant fraction
>> > of JDBC driver execution time. Adding an additional scan on top of it is
>> > making things worse regardless of the transient benefit of more compact
>> > storage. In the case of a query result the String will be likely never
>> > be promoted out of new space; the benefit of compression would be minimal.
>> It's hard to say at this point. We want to understand what footprint
>> improvements we are talking about. I agree that if cost-benefit analysis
>> will say the performance is degrading beyond the sane limits even if we
>> are happy with memory savings, there is little reason to push this into
>> the general JDK.
>> Thanks,
>> -Aleksey

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