You can control the heap size with the following JVM parameters:
The -Xms and -Xmx parameters define the minimum and maximum heap sizes, respectively. Since GC occurs when the generations fill up, throughput is inversely proportional to the amount of the memory available. By default, the JVM grows or shrinks the heap at each GC to try to keep the proportion of free space to the living objects at each collection within a specific range. This range is set as a percentage by the parameters -XX:MinHeapFreeRatio=minimum and -XX:MaxHeapFreeRatio=maximum; and the total size bounded by -Xms and -Xmx.
The NewSize and MaxNewSize parameters control the new generation’s minimum and maximum size. Regulate the new generation size by setting these parameters equal. The bigger the younger generation, the less often minor collections occur. The size of the young generation relative to the old generation is controlled by NewRatio. For example, setting -XX:NewRatio=3 means that the ratio between the old and young generation is 1:3, the combined size of eden and the survivor spaces will be fourth of the heap.
By default, the Application Server is invoked with the Java HotSpot Server JVM. The default NewRatio for the Server JVM is 2: the old generation occupies 2/3 of the heap while the new generation occupies 1/3. The larger new generation can accommodate many more short-lived objects, decreasing the need for slow major collections. The old generation is still sufficiently large enough to hold many long-lived objects.
To size the Java heap:
Decide the total amount of memory you can afford for the JVM. Accordingly, graph your own performance metric against young generation sizes to find the best setting.
Make plenty of memory available to the young generation. The default is calculated from NewRatio and the -Xmx setting.
Larger eden or younger generation spaces increase the spacing between full GCs. But young space collections could take a proportionally longer time. In general, keep the eden size between one fourth and one third the maximum heap size. The old generation must be larger than the new generation.
For up-to-date defaults, see Java HotSpot VM Options.
This is an exmple heap configuration used by Application Server on Solaris for large applications:
-Xms3584m -Xmx3584m -verbose:gc -Dsun.rmi.dgc.client.gcInterval=3600000
The SurvivorRatio parameter controls the size of the two survivor spaces. For example, -XX:SurvivorRatio=6 sets the ratio between each survivor space and eden to be 1:6, each survivor space will be one eighth of the young generation. The default for Solaris is 32. If survivor spaces are too small, copying collection overflows directly into the old generation. If survivor spaces are too large, they will be empty. At each GC, the JVM determines the number of times an object can be copied before it is tenured, called the tenure threshold. This threshold is chosen to keep the survivor space half full.
Use the option -XX:+PrintTenuringDistribution to show the threshold and ages of the objects in the new generation. It is useful for observing the lifetime distribution of an application.