Jump to Content

Idle Time Garbage Collection Scheduling

Ulan Degenbaev
Manfred Ernst
37th annual ACM SIGPLAN conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation, ACM, New York, NY, USA (2016), pp. 570-583


Efficient garbage collection is increasingly important in today's managed language runtime systems that demand low latency, low memory consumption, and high throughput. Garbage collection may pause the application for many milliseconds to identify live memory, free unused memory, and compact fragmented regions of memory, even when employing concurrent garbage collection. In animation-based applications that require 60 frames per second, these pause times may be observable, degrading user experience. This paper introduces idle time garbage collection scheduling to increase the responsiveness of applications by hiding expensive garbage collection operations inside of small, otherwise unused idle portions of the application's execution, resulting in smoother animations. Additionally we take advantage of idleness to reduce memory consumption while allowing higher memory use when high throughput is required. We implemented idle time garbage collection scheduling in V8, an open-source, production JavaScript virtual machine running within Chrome. We present performance results on various benchmarks running popular webpages and show that idle time garbage collection scheduling can significantly improve latency and memory consumption. Furthermore, we introduce a new metric called frame time discrepancy to quantify the quality of the user experience and precisely measure the improvements that idle time garbage collection scheduling provides for a WebGL-based game benchmark. Idle time garbage collection scheduling is shipped and enabled by default in Chrome.

Research Areas