Oracle ships JDK 11 and JDK 17 as 64-bit binaries for Windows, macOS, and Linux. However, many Java applications, especially for Windows, were intended to run on 32-bit binaries and to use the Client VM (-client). The last JDK that shipped 32-bit binaries and supported the Client VM was JDK 8, so we are often asked: If I have a client-side application and want to have fast startup and low memory footprint, as was possible with a 32-bit JDK running in Client VM mode, can I achieve it with JDK 11 or 17? The answer is yes, as the rest of this post explains.
There is a JVM option NeverActAsServerClassMachine, which when enabled instructs the JVM to treat the host machine as a non-Server-class machine. This option helps emulate Client VM behavior using the Server VM. Please refer to JDK-8166002 to understand how the Client VM behavior is emulated. Enabling this flag helps with reducing startup times and CPU usage for client applications.
Additionally, in order to further improve the startup performance, you can configure the initial Metaspace size (which acts as a threshold for Metaspace GCs) so as to avoid the Metaspace related GCs during startup time. This can be done using the JVM option -XX:MetaspaceSize=n. Looking at the GC logs can help understand the Metaspace usage, and help in determining the initial Metaspace size.
Now, for containing the overall memory footprint of client applications, the following two flags can help immensely:
Setting them both to 0 helps keep the committed memory for the Java heap close to its actual usage, and avoids unnecessary expansion of the heap.
Specifying these flags individually on the command-line can be tedious, especially if that needs to be done on several deployment machines. In order to configure the JVM easily and seamlessly for client applications, the above mentioned JVM options can be specified through a configuration file as well. Since Java 9, the ‘java’ command-line tool accepts an argument to specify a file containing the command-line options. For more details, please refer to JDK-8027634 enhancement.
So we can add these options to a file, say client_vm_args_file:
and then launch our Java program using the @ argument with the java launcher tool, as shown below.
java @client_vm_args_file <java class>
Hope this helps in achieving quicker startup times and lower memory footprints for your client-side applications. More later!