JavaFX performance for complex visualisations

Richard Bair richard.bair at
Thu Dec 6 11:41:04 PST 2012

I don't know of any reliable way to give our graphics threads any higher priority. My understanding (and experimentation) with thread priorities in Java is that they are completely ignored. There is probably some way in native to raise the priority? I have been interested in this question as well for some time. In some of our examples we have images downloaded in a background thread but they affected rendering performance, which was very frustrating.


On Dec 6, 2012, at 4:17 AM, Randahl Fink Isaksen <randahl at> wrote:

> In my experience, the primary performance problem with JavaFX, is the fact that the JavaFX rendering thread does not get any special treatment. On my multicore Mac, I can easily get low JavaFX frame rates by simply increasing the CPU load.
> Has anyone tested if increasing the JavaFX thread priority can inspire the OS or the CPU to favour JavaFX rendering over everything else? I am aware that it depends on your app, but at least in some apps, smooth rendering is above everything else.
> Thanks
> Randahl
> On Dec 6, 2012, at 9:34 , John C. Turnbull <ozemale at> wrote:
>> Thanks for responding to this Richard.
>> The smoothness issue is a bit baffling.  On my desktop PC (which is
>> virtually a super computer and includes the world's fastest GPU), all the
>> animations in Ensemble are very "unsmooth", that is to say that even the
>> simple Translate transition demo displays a jumpy red ball moving from side
>> to side.  It's so jumpy that it looks like I am actually running it on a
>> hand-held calculator or similar!  Conversely, the same demo on my 5-year-old
>> laptop is "super smooth" and indeed all the Ensemble demos run extremely
>> impressively on this machine.  Do you have any ideas on what is causing this
>> and/or suggestions on how to improve things?
>> Anyway, I am very excited by the question you posed at the end of your reply
>> in relation to building a graphics intensive demo application with JavaFX.
>> Another thread has started dealing with the type of game or application that
>> would be suitable but the thing for me which is most important is that this
>> demo *not* be a clone of some simple existing game but rather be truly
>> graphics intensive and demanding.  One suggestion was to re-implement
>> Asteroids because "If we can't handle an old 8-bit game from the early 80's
>> with nice fluid animations then we can give up and go home" but to me this
>> would be exactly what *not* to do.  The idea that JavaFX should be capable
>> of fluid animations for an old style game is fine but what have we proved if
>> the app does indeed run smoothly using JavaFX?  Nothing really.  We *must*
>> focus on something which would not have run on an old 8-bit computer.
>> Something that would test Flash today on reasonably powered modern machines.
>> Something that actually *requires* a UI toolkit as powerful and advanced as
>> JavaFX (or is supposed to be).  Otherwise we have not achieved anything.
>> Whatever is chosen, I will contribute in any way I can :-)
>> -jct
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Richard Bair [mailto:richard.bair at] 
>> Sent: Wednesday, 5 December 2012 07:24
>> To: John C. Turnbull
>> Cc: openjfx-dev at
>> Subject: Re: JavaFX performance for complex visualisations
>> Hi John,
>> Just getting through my email and have had this one flagged since Devoxx
>> :-). I respond below to individual points but most of these are probably not
>> worth you responding back on (they're just informational on my part) --
>> rather, down at the end is the real question I want to have a discussion on
>> (and will be a lot of fun to solve while we're at it).
>>> 1. Do any such games, animations or visualisations exist yet?
>> Yes. Much like Swing, JavaFX is seeing a lot of adoption in the heavy
>> enterprise desktop sorts of use cases -- not the kind of thing you will find
>> when browsing the internet. Most of these folks don't advertise the
>> technology they're using, and most of them are not interested in letting
>> their competitors know what they're doing or what technology they're using.
>> Which basically means, if we haven't built a demo for it, there isn't
>> anything you will find in your travels.
>>> 2. If not, how does Oracle or anyone else actually know that JavaFX is 
>>> capable of supporting such applications?
>> That is a good question. Many of the folks I've talked to building such
>> applications have done incredible work + proof of concepts long before I
>> even knew they were using JavaFX. Now, each year we do pretty graphically
>> intense demos for JavaOne, so we have a pretty good feel for it. We have a
>> bunch of benchmarks where we crank the number of nodes up to pretty high
>> numbers, and we know from these benchmarks (at least) that we scale very
>> well compared to other technologies. But I know neither the samples nor the
>> results are publicly available. But at least I can answer the "how does
>> Oracle . know" part of the question.
>> We have had a performance team from the get-go who were solely dedicated to
>> writing benchmarks, running benchmarks, and analyzing results. This has been
>> incredibly helpful. We have results that come not just from the weekly
>> integrations but even from intra-week builds on specific scrum repositories.
>> We have benchmarks and analysis for both desktop and embedded and take
>> performance very seriously.
>> Now, there are a lot of ways to use the platform. Some things are better
>> tuned than others. Performance work is driven by tuning and benchmarks. So
>> when we run into issues we have to (a) determine how likely that is to be an
>> issue to the broader development community (b) figure out what the tradeoffs
>> are (usually performance & quality are directly in contradiction with each
>> other), and ( c) schedule & implement the fix. Of course, the same few
>> people (Jim, mostly) are involved in many of the performance fixes and
>> features (like Canvas), so scheduling is an issue and feedback from
>> customers as to what they are actually running into (vs. what a theoretical
>> issue is) has priority.
>>> 3. Do I have the wrong understanding that JavaFX is supposed to 
>>> support such applications?
>> We expect that JavaFX will be usable for casual games, but we are not
>> building a gaming platform to compete with Unity and the like. If we happen
>> to be just as good, then that's awesome, but it isn't our primary goal.
>> Advanced visualizations, on the other hand, are part of our target market
>> (medical, pharma, enterprise desktop, etc)
>>> 4. Is it possible that, for whatever reason, JavaFX is simply not 
>>> capable of supporting such applications?
>> There are natural trade-offs between an immediate mode (like Canvas) API and
>> a retained mode (like Scene Graph) API. Now that we have both (plus Java2D +
>> ImageWriter and such for the really crazy cases) we should be capable of a
>> wide range of use cases. However, some things are not yet optimized. But
>> there is no technical reason why we shouldn't be quite capable.
>> Another area we have not yet exposed API which is problematic for some
>> people is in the area of custom shaders. It may be that without some kind of
>> custom shader support (which would have to be made to work on D3D as well as
>> OpenGL) certain use cases cannot be easily fulfilled.
>>> My feeling that JavaFX can indeed support such applications is based 
>>> on the fact that it is hardware accelerated and therefore it should be 
>>> limited mostly by the capabilities of the graphics card and also 
>>> because it is often talked about in this way.  However, I have 
>>> observed varying levels of performance that don't quite follow these 
>>> principles such as JavaFX performing poorly with choppy/jittery 
>>> animations and transitions on my most powerful machine with an NVIDIA 
>>> GeForce GTX 690 (the current fastest graphics card in the world) but 
>>> performing quite well on machines with much lower specifications.
>> It is highly unlikely that this is due to performance issues. As mentioned
>> in the last few days on another thread, there are smoothness issues that are
>> completely separate from performance (although both are often talked about
>> together). We're working on the smoothness. Sometimes this is an application
>> problem as opposed to a platform problem (one such example is the
>> DisplayShelf sample, which needs to be rewritten).
>>> So I guess I am curious to know what kinds of testing and evaluations 
>>> Oracle has undertaken to determine the performance characteristics of 
>>> JavaFX and exactly what kinds of applications it is actually suitable 
>>> for.  For example, I am yet to see any JavaFX application with even 
>>> the sophistication of a Flash electronic greeting card or banner ad 
>>> and yet I assume JavaFX will be used for such purposes eventually.
>> I would imagine any of our demos from the last 3-4 years of JavaOne would
>> demonstrate much more complicated use cases than that! But, instead of me
>> just complaining -- lets build one! We'll add it both to Ensemble and our
>> test suite. We can start with something simple (like a greeting card) and
>> expand it out to something wildly complex. What would you like to see? One
>> thing I've wanted to build for years but haven't found the time for was a
>> tower defense game. But what would you think would be a good example of
>> graphics performance that would tell you "hey, this platform is great for
>> visualizations"?
>> Richard

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