JVM Generations

The information learned from the object allocation behavior can be used to enhance the performance of the JVM. Therefore, the heap is broken up into smaller parts or generations. The heap parts are: Young Generation, Old or Tenured Generation, and Permanent Generation(java 8 removed Perm Gerneration)

HotSpot Heap Structure

  • The Young Generation is where all new objects are allocated and aged. When the young generation fills up, this causes a minor garbage collection. Minor collections can be optimized assuming a high object mortality rate. A young generation full of dead objects is collected very quickly. Some surviving objects are aged and eventually move to the old generation.

  • Stop the World Event - All minor garbage collections are "Stop the World" events. This means that all application threads are stopped until the operation completes. Minor garbage collections are always Stop the World events.

  • The Old Generation is used to store long surviving objects. Typically, a threshold is set for young generation object and when that age is met, the object gets moved to the old generation. Eventually the old generation needs to be collected. This event is called a major garbage collection.

  • Major garbage collection are also Stop the World events. Often a major collection is much slower because it involves all live objects. So for Responsive applications, major garbage collections should be minimized. Also note, that the length of the Stop the World event for a major garbage collection is affected by the kind of garbage collector that is used for the old generation space.

  • The Permanent generation contains metadata required by the JVM to describe the classes and methods used in the application. The permanent generation is populated by the JVM at runtime based on classes in use by the application. In addition, Java SE library classes and methods may be stored here.

  • Classes may get collected (unloaded) if the JVM finds they are no longer needed and space may be needed for other classes. The permanent generation is included in a full garbage collection.