JDK 9 proposal: allocating ByteBuffers on heterogeneous memory

Dohrmann, Steve steve.dohrmann at intel.com
Fri Apr 8 14:41:40 UTC 2016

Hi Paul,

One point I meant to call out in the last message but did not...

Consistent with current ByteBuffers, we don't foresee public constructors on any ByteBuffer implementation classes themselves.  Public constructors are only proposed for the class that implements the Memory interface with its ByteBuffer factory method.


On Apr 7, 2016, at 3:03 PM, Dohrmann, Steve <steve.dohrmann at intel.com<mailto:steve.dohrmann at intel.com>> wrote:

Hi Paul,

We would like to have an an API for Intel's 3D XPoint memory sooner than the JDK 10 timeframe and proposed this API because it seems simple enough to consider for JDK 9.  As you suggest, we will participate in the Panama discussions  in this area.  Any additional guidance you have would be appreciated.

Just to clarify, it is incidental that the proposed Memory interface has only one method.  We see the value of the interface as nominative; a new type that can be passed around to abstract various sources of ByteBuffer memory.

Regarding construction and allocation, our current Memory implementation allocates ByteBuffers by calling the NewDirectByteBuffer JNI function with a pointer to 3D XPoint memory allocated via a supporting native library.  The Linux libraries we have worked with are NVML (https://github.com/pmem/nvml/) and memkind (https://github.com/memkind/memkind).  We recently also became aware of the NVM-Direct library (https://github.com/oracle/NVM-Direct).  We currently don't need our own subclass and return the ByteBuffer returned by the JNI call.


On Apr 6, 2016, at 4:10 AM, Paul Sandoz <paul.sandoz at oracle.com<mailto:paul.sandoz at oracle.com>> wrote:

Hi Steve,

My feeling is it’s too premature to introduce a general Memory (region) allocation interface at this moment. What is currently specified can be supported using:


But i don’t wanna discourage you! this thread has raised some interesting points.

Project Panama is gonna take a swing at defining a more general notion of a memory region and the Arrays 2.0 work should support indexes greater than Integer.MAX_VALUE.

In this respect I think we should hold off doing anything premature for Java 9 (feature freeze is getting closer), and i encourage you to participate on the Panama lists.


Here is some context some of which you probably know and some which you might not:

- ByteBuffer constructors are deliberately package scoped, as there are some intricate dependencies between the implementations and we want control over who can implement. Any new form of allocation will require changes here (package scoped or otherwise).

- current ByteBuffer implementations are either backed by a byte[] (managed or non-direct) or an off-heap allocated (direct) region. At the moment access to both those regions go through separate code paths, but they could be unified using the Unsafe double addressing mode, which should greatly simplify the implementations. I have started making some small steps towards that (JDK-8149469 and JDK-8151163). Even these small steps require careful analysis to evaluate performance across multiple platforms.

- VarHandles leverages the Unsafe double addressing mode to support enhanced atomic access to heap or direct ByteBuffers [1], thus the same code is used in both kinds of buffer.


I am not sure what plans you have for buffer implementations themselves.

How do you propose to allocate a ByteBuffer instance that covers a region of 3D XPoint memory?

Would it be similar to that of direct buffers, e.g. a variation of DirectByteBuffer, but with different factory constructor code to allocate the memory region within the XPoint memory system and assign the buffer base address to the start of that allocated region?


[1] http://cr.openjdk.java.net/~psandoz/jdk9/varhandles/specdiff/java/lang/invoke/MethodHandles-report.html#method:byteBufferViewVarHandle(java.lang.Class, boolean)

On 6 Apr 2016, at 03:49, Dohrmann, Steve <steve.dohrmann at intel.com<mailto:steve.dohrmann at intel.com>> wrote:

Re: JDK-8153111<https://bugs.openjdk.java.net/browse/JDK-8153111>


Below are responses to some of the points brought up in the discussion as well as is a little expansion of the reasoning that went into the proposed API.

One motivation we saw for doing anything beyond a concrete ByteBuffer class was application code (e.g. Cassandra) that allocates many off-heap ByteBuffers using ByteBuffer#allocateDirect.  We reasoned that if the allocation of ByteBuffers could be done using a common memory interface then only the code that provisioned instances of the the memory spaces would have to change in order to switch or mix memory types.

We did think of overloading the ByteBuffer#allocateDirect method with memory space info and avoid an allocation interface.  We ended up with a separate user called interface scheme because we imagined that extensions of the memory interface would enable new memory functionality that required new methods (e.g. memory transactions for persistence).  Without a separate callable interface, the static method space in ByteBuffer might have to change again.

For any API In general we saw the need for two things 1) something to represent a memory space from which objects are allocated (a Memory instance) and 2) a broadly usable familiar "anchor" type as the common data object (java.nio.ByteBuffer).

The two points for extension with the current proposal are: 1) Constructors on Memory implementation classes -- allow implementors the ability to offer features on the memory space itself (e.g. partitioning, size limits) and 2) future extensions on the Memory interface -- for example PersistentMemory.

Regarding a more elaborate scheme for memory space creation -- we did consider a factory scheme for memory object allocation but could not get comfortable with either a) standardized method signatures suitable for various kinds of memory or b) the complexity that something like a general-purpose "spec" format would add, even if we could come up with it.  Direct construction does expose more to the user but it seems sufficient and might be the best given what we can say about the future of heterogeneous memory at this point.

Regarding the suggested addition of keyed access to ByteBuffers, we are assuming this is only proposed to enable sharing?  We thought it might take a while to properly explore the details (i.e. semantics / thread safety / predicable performance) of sharing such that it would work well and maybe even extend well to things like process-shared and cluster-shared ByteBuffers.  We elected to propose nothing for JDK 9 beyond what developers can already do with schemes based on e.g. ByteBuffer#duplicate.  We were thinking shared buffers could appear later, possibly as an extension of the Memory interface.   The keyed access scheme is simple and appealing, however.  One question: how is the request method's size parameter to be interpreted?

The suggestion of parameterizing the Memory interface bounded by ByteBuffers seems useful as it gives a clean way to support extended ByteBuffers.  Not sure if the change of the allocation method name from #allocateByteBuffer to #allocate was incidental or not?

Alternates to the "Memory" interface name might be preferred, BufferSupplier is certainly reasonable.  We imagined instances that name different memory spaces (e.g. OffHeapRAM) for allocation rather that the role played -- thinking the role is explicit in the allocation method name (allocateByteBuffer).

Regarding changing the allocation size parameter to a long, this would be very nice to have.  We avoided it in order to match the existing ByteBuffer API.  If 64-bit ByteBuffers are planned, sticking with int sizes might have been the wrong call.

We are still coming up to speed on VarHandles (JEP 193), atomics for ByteBuffers (JDK-8008240), and ByteBuffer consistency (JDK-6476827).

We hope there is continued interest in this proposal and happy to provide a modified patch.

Best regards,
Steve Dohrmann

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