Static Determination of Allocation Rates to Support Real-Time Garbage Collection

Tobias Mann, Morgan Deters, Rob LeGrand, and Ron K. Cytron

In Proceedings of the 2005 ACM Conference on Languages, Compilers, and Tools for Embedded Systems (LCTES 2005), Chicago, Illinois, USA, 15-17 June 2005.

While it is generally accepted that garbage-collected languages offer advantages over languages in which objects must be explicitly deallocated, real-time developers are leery of the adverse effects a garbage collector might have on real-time performance. Semiautomatic approaches based on regions have been proposed, but incorrect usage could cause unbounded storage leaks or program failure. Moreover, correct usage cannot be guaranteed at compile time. Recently, real-time garbage collectors have been developed that provide a guaranteed fraction of the CPU to the application, and the correct operation of those collectors has been proven, subject only to the specification of certain statistics related to the type and rate of objects allocated by the application. However, unless those statistics are provided or estimated appropriately, the collector may fail to collect dead storage at a rate sufficient to pace the application's need for storage. Overspecification of those statistics is safe but leaves the application with less than its possible share of the CPU, which may prevent the application from meeting its deadlines.

In this paper we present a static analysis to bound conservatively an application's allocation rate. The analysis is based on a data flow framework that requires interprocedural evaluation. We present the framework and results from analyzing some Java benchmarks. Because static analysis is necessarily conservative, we also present measurements of our benchmarks' actual allocation rates.

Our work is a necessary step toward making real-time garbage collectors attractive to the hard-real-time community. By guaranteeing a bound on statistics provided to a real-time collector, we can guarantee the operation of the collector for a given application.

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