Java Platform, Standard Edition HotSpot Virtual Machine Garbage Collection Tuning Guide
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5 Available Collectors

The discussion to this point has been about the serial collector. The Java HotSpot VM includes three different types of collectors, each with different performance characteristics.

Selecting a Collector

Unless your application has rather strict pause time requirements, first run your application and allow the VM to select a collector. If necessary, adjust the heap size to improve performance. If the performance still does not meet your goals, then use the following guidelines as a starting point for selecting a collector.

  • If the application has a small data set (up to approximately 100 MB), then

    select the serial collector with the option -XX:+UseSerialGC.

  • If the application will be run on a single processor and there are no pause time requirements, then let the VM select the collector, or select the serial collector with the option -XX:+UseSerialGC.

  • If (a) peak application performance is the first priority and (b) there are no pause time requirements or pauses of 1 second or longer are acceptable, then let the VM select the collector, or select the parallel collector with -XX:+UseParallelGC.

  • If response time is more important than overall throughput and garbage collection pauses must be kept shorter than approximately 1 second, then select the concurrent collector with -XX:+UseConcMarkSweepGC or -XX:+UseG1GC.

These guidelines provide only a starting point for selecting a collector because performance is dependent on the size of the heap, the amount of live data maintained by the application, and the number and speed of available processors. Pause times are particularly sensitive to these factors, so the threshold of 1 second mentioned previously is only approximate: the parallel collector will experience pause times longer than 1 second on many data size and hardware combinations; conversely, the concurrent collector may not be able to keep pauses shorter than 1 second on some combinations.

If the recommended collector does not achieve the desired performance, first attempt to adjust the heap and generation sizes to meet the desired goals. If performance is still inadequate, then try a different collector: use the concurrent collector to reduce pause times and use the parallel collector to increase overall throughput on multiprocessor hardware.

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