Run-Time Support for Optimizations Based on Escape Analysis

Thomas Kotzmann
Institute for System Software

Hanspeter Mössenböck
Institute for System Software
Christian Doppler Laboratory for Automated Software Engineering


The Java™ programming language does not allow the programmer to influence memory management. An object is usually allocated on the heap and deallocated by the garbage collector when it is not referenced any longer. Under certain conditions, the virtual machine can allocate objects on the stack or eliminate their allocation via scalar replacement. However, even if the dynamic compiler guarantees that the conditions are fulfilled, the optimizations require support by the run-time environment.

We implemented a new escape analysis algorithm for Sun Microsystems' Java HotSpot™ VM. The results are used to replace objects with scalar variables, to allocate objects on the stack, and to remove synchronization. This paper deals with the representation of optimized objects in the debugging information and with reallocation and garbage collection support for a safe execution of optimized methods. Assignments to fields of parameters that can refer to both stack and heap objects are associated with an extended write barrier which skips card marking for stack objects. The traversal of objects during garbage collection uses a wrapper that abstracts from stack objects and presents their pointer fields as root pointers to the garbage collector.

When a previously compiled and currently executing method must be continued in the interpreter because dynamic class loading invalidates the machine code, execution is suspended and compiler optimizations are undone. Scalar-replaced objects are reallocated on the heap lazily when control returns to the invalidated method, whereas stack-allocated objects must be reallocated immediately before program execution resumes. After reallocation, objects for which synchronization was removed are relocked.

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© IEEE, 2007. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here for your personal use. Not for redistribution.
Published in the Proceedings of the International Symposium on Code Generation and Optimization, pp. 49-60. IEEE, 2007.