Zing Java Virtual Machine Now Free to Open Source Developers

Java runtime maker Azul Systems recently made its flagship Zing Java Virtual Machine (JVM) available to open source developers for free for use in development, qualification and testing.

The Zing JVM is optimized for Linux and x86-based servers, and the company bills it as the most scalable JVM for enterprise Java workloads. The company said it is hoping to attract open source developers of apps for commodity x86 servers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, CentOS and Ubuntu. "Our goal is to make Zing the de facto choice for open source developers to achieve the most consistent Java performance and scalability," commented Scott Sellers, Azul Systems president and CEO, in a statement.

Zing is a 100 percent Java-compatible JVM based on Oracle's HotSpot Virtual Machine, which is a core component of Java SE. When the company released version 5.0 of the JVM at the end of April, the Zing codebase had been re-architected for Linux, exploiting "the abundant physical resources of modern x86 servers running Linux," the company said.

Zing 5.0 can support very high memory allocation rates; the company claims it is the only JVM that supports application instances exceeding 512 gigabytes of memory with pauseless operation.

"Java is the most popular language in the enterprise," Sellers told ADTmag in an earlier interview, "and Linux is the most popular operating system. Instead of trying to create a JVM that does all things for all operating environments, as Oracle (and previously, Sun) has done, we decided to get laser focused on developing the best JVM for Linux."

Zing's ability to provide pauseless execution is a key capability, Sellers said. Azul has long targeted what Sellers called the Achilles' heel of Java: Garbage Collection (GC). Mitigating the impact of GC is a long-standing challenge for Java developers. Version 5.0 is designed to eliminate GC pauses, which limit scalability. This enables Java app instances to scale dynamically and reliably to dozens of CPU cores and hundreds of gigabytes of memory. Azul calls this "generational pauseless garbage collection" (GPGC).

Azul's decision to offer the JVM free for OSS makers got a big thumbs up from some well-known names in the open source community. Martin Odersky, creator of Scala and co-founder and chief architect of Typesafe said he was "very happy" about the decision, adding "I believe the platform is a valuable part of the Scala tool chain." Charles Nutter, co-lead of the JRuby project, said that open sourcing Zing "has made it easier for us to ensure JRuby applications will scale to large heaps and heavy loads." And Rich Hickey, author of Clojure and designer of the Datomic database system, called it a "fantastic contribution to the community."

More information on how open source developers can access Zing can be found here.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].