The problems with StringBuilders...
Thu Oct 6 20:31:00 GMT 2005
Andrew Haley wrote:
> > This is a problem with the GCJ approach. We have this nice binary
> > compatibility feature, but you have to disallow a wide range of
> > optimizations in order to use it. The JIT compilers (like Sun's
> > HotSpot) can do these things because they know everything at run/compile
> > time (as runtime and compile time are the same thing).
>No, that really isn't true.
>In a JIT compiler, when you devirtualize and inline you have to assume
>that you know everything about the program, in particular that a
>method you just inlined isn't about to be overridden by a subclass.
>But you don't, because at any time a ClassLoader can come along and
>create a new subclass of one of the classes you just inlined, and your
>assumptions are no longer true. So what do you do? The ClassLoader
>has to signal the runtime that the world has changed, and you have to
>fall back to the non-inlined version of the code. This is *exactly*
>the same with ahead of time compilation. We can do optimistic
>optimization in gcj and fall back if we have to, just like a JIT.
Its not quite the same. One difference is that in an AOT compiler, we
have nothing to fall back on but the interpreter. A JIT isn't going to
fall back to interpreted code in this case, at least if the method in
question is called frequently or contains loops. If it is worth the time
to optimize, a JIT can simply recompile the method without the
In an AOT, however, we are flying blind - there is no reliable knowledge
of what classes will be encountered at runtime, so there's a high chance
than any given devirtualization optimization will have to be thrown away
at runtime. We could avoid the interpreter-fallback by compiling methods
twice - once with and once without virtual inlining and
devirtualization, but this is wasteful in space, and application
performance would degrade over time as dependent libraries get updated,
etc. Profile-directed optimization feedback might help, but its no
substitute for the knowledge a JIT has.
Also, while devirtualization & inlining of virtual methods are
optimizations that can be invalidated after compilation time even in a
JIT, there are many other optimizations that can be trivially done at
runtime but not at all ahead-of-time. This includes inlining of finals
and static methods, various cases of "direct" dispatch, eliminating
class initialization checks where you know a given class is already
initialized at compilation time, etc.
There are of course many advantages that an AOT should have over a JIT
as well - eg startup performance. The "ideal" approach probably consists
of a combination of a pre-compiled "cache", which is well-optimized
while retaining binary compatibility, combined with an optimizing JIT
that can recompile select methods - ie the "hotspots" - to take
advantage of runtime optimizations, in addition to compiling dynamically
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