Very slow promotion failures in ParNew / ParallelGC

Tony Printezis tprintezis at
Tue Jan 12 17:56:24 UTC 2016


OK, I’m working on porting the CMS changes for 1) to JDK 9. I’ll have a web rev I can share soonish.


On January 11, 2016 at 4:31:03 PM, Jon Masamitsu (jon.masamitsu at wrote:


We'd be interested in the fix for 1).   I'll have to go look at more code
before having a definite  opinion on 2) but the way you describe it
makes it sound like something worth doing.   Similarly with 3).


On 01/11/2016 09:59 AM, Tony Printezis wrote:
Hi all,

We have been recently investigating some very lengthy (several minutes) promotion failures in ParNew, which also appear in ParallelGC. We have identified a few issues and have some fixes to address them. Here's a quick summary:

1) There's a scalability bottleneck when adding marks to the preserved mark stack as there is only one stack, shared by all workers, and pushes to it are protected by a mutex. This essentially serializes all workers if there is a non-trivial amount of marks to be preserved. The fix is similar to what's been implemented in G1 in JDK 9, which is to introduce per-worker preserved mark stacks.

2) (More interestingly) I was perplexed by the huge number of marks that I see getting preserved during promotion failure. I did a small study with a test I can reproduce the issue with. The majority of the preserved marks were 0x5 (i.e. "anonymously biased"). According to the current logic, no mark is preserved if it's biased, presumably because it's assumed that the object is biased towards a specific thread and we want to preserve that mark as it contains the thread pointer. The fix is to use a different default mark value when biased locking is enabled (0x5) or disabled (0x1, as it is now). During promotion failures, marks are not preserved if they are equal to the default value and the mark of forwarded objects is set to the default value post promotion failure and before the preserved marks are re-instated.

A few extra observations on this:

- I don't know if the majority of objects we'll come across during promotion failures will be anonymously biased (it is the case for synthetic benchmarks). So, the above might pay off in certain cases but not all. But I think it's still worth doing.

- Even though the per-worker preserved mark stacks eliminate the big scalability bottleneck, reducing (potentially dramatically) the number of marks that are preserved helps in a couple of ways: a) avoids allocating a lot of memory for the preserved mark stacks (which can get very, very large in some cases) and b) avoids having to scan / reclaim the preserved mark stacks post promotion failure, which reduces the overall GC time further. Even the parallel time in ParNew improves by a bit because there are a lot fewer stack pushes and malloc calls.

3) In the case where lots of marks need to be preserved, we found that using 64K stack segments, instead of 4K segments, speeds up the preserved mark stack reclamation by a non-trivial amount (it's 3x/4x faster).

We have fixes for all three issues above for ParNew. We're also going to implement them for ParallelGC. For JDK 9, 1) is already implemented, but 2) or 3) might also be worth doing.

Is there interest in these changes?



Tony Printezis | JVM/GC Engineer / VM Team | Twitter

tprintezis at


Tony Printezis | JVM/GC Engineer / VM Team | Twitter

tprintezis at

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