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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The ExoVM System for Automatic VM and Application Reduction

  • Author(s): Titzer, B L
  • Joshua Auerbach
  • David F. Bacon
  • Palsberg, J
  • et al.

Embedded systems pose unique challenges to Java application developers and virtual machine designers. Chief among these challenges is the memory footprint of both the virtual machine and the applications that run within it. With the rapidly increasing set of features provided by the Java language, virtual machine designers are often forced to build custom implementations that make various tradeoffs between the footprint of the virtual machine and the subset of the Java language and class libraries that are supported. In this paper, we present the ExoVM, a system in which an application is initialized in a fully featured virtual machine, and then the code, data, and virtual machine features necessary to execute it are packaged into a binary image. Key to this process is feature analysis, a technique for computing the reachable code and data of a Java program and its implementation inside the VM simultaneously. The ExoVM reduces the need to develop customized embedded virtual machines by reusing a single VM infrastructure and automatically eliding the implementation of unused Java features on a per-program basis. We present a constraint-based instantiation of the analysis technique, an implementation in IBM's J9 Java VM, experiments evaluating our technique for the EEMBC benchmark suite, and some discussion of the individual costs of some of Java's features. Our evaluation shows that our system can reduce the non-heap memory allocation of the virtual machine by as much as 75%. We discuss VM and language design decisions that our work shows are important in targeting embedded systems, supporting the long-term goal of a common VM infrastructure spanning from motes to large servers.

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