BigMemory Takes on Java's Achilles' Heel: Garbage Collection

Terracotta has just announced the general availability of its new Java add-on for the Enterprise version of its Ehcache distributed Java caching software. Dubbed BigMemory, the add-on is designed to release Java apps from the memory and performance constraints of garbage collection (GC).

The limit on the size of Java Virtual Machines (JVMs) imposed by the GC automatic memory management scheme has long been a major challenge for Enterprise Java developers. Gartner analyst Massimo Pezzini has called GC "Java’s Achilles' heel" and "a universal challenge."

BigMemory allows Java apps to cache 64 GBs or more of data in an off-heap store that’s not subject to GC. And by allowing JVMs to be larger and less numerous it improves app performance. Anne MacFarland, senior contributing analyst at the Clipper Group, called BigMemory, "a step forward in the evolution of Enterprise Java."

BigMemory is a pure Java component compatible with most popular (JVMs). The product is designed for stand-alone and distributed caches.

Ehcache is the popular and widely deployed open-source Java caching solution Terracotta acquired in 2009. Enterprise production deployments of Ehcache are estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. It ships as a component in Hibernate ORM, the Spring Framework, Alfresco CMS, and the Liferay portal.

San Francisco based Terracotta is the founding company of the open source Terracotta project. Terracotta clusters JVMs to create a shared memory pool at the Java application tier, which can be used to share data among servers. This shared memory pool can also be employed to coordinate the work of many JVMs. The company’s Java infrastructure solution is a commercial offering based on the open-source project.

"We literally stumbled across this product," Terracotta CEO Amit Pandey told this site when BigMemory came out in Beta format earlier this year. "Our servers are written in Java, and our server engineers were working on ways of providing bigger heap sizes. When they solved the problem for themselves, we looked at this and said, we're not the only ones with this problem. Is there any way to attach this memory management technique to Ehcache, which tons and tons of people already use? Now, pretty much anyone who uses Ehcache or Hibernate can just flip a switch and get access to BigMemory."

The BigMemory beta program registered more than 250 participants from 30 countries, Pandey said. More information about BigMemory for Enterprise Ehcache is available on the company's Web site, 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].