By Xiao-Feng Li
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Extra info for Advanced Design and Implementation of Virtual Machines
Metadata are language specific, and the underlying system cannot provide the data. A memory manager is necessary as a middle layer between what the application can see and what the underlying system can provide. • Desirable: Application in safe language usually does not explicitly release the memory allocated for its data. The application may give hint on the data’s life time but relies on the virtual machine to dispose. Although the underlying system may provide certain level of memory reclamation support, it is desirable for the virtual machine to directly manage the application data (and the associated memory), because only virtual machine accurately knows the application’s data type and life cycles.
In reality, compiling a method may throw exception, or enter Java code execution and trigger garbage collection (GC), so the procedure from Java code execution to JIT compiler (written in native code) needs full Java-to-native transition. Bookkeeping is needed to make sure all the information be well prepared before entering the native code and be cleaned up after returning from the native code. We leave this discussion to Chapter 7. 2 Trace-Based JIT In recent years, trace-based JIT has attracted lots of attentions.
2a. Although there are many different implementations, the most common design is for the object to have a pointer pointing to a virtual method pointer table (called “vtable”). Vtable includes the function pointers to the virtual methods so that the virtual method invocation can be executed with only a few instructions. This design is based on an observation that the most frequent memory accesses in a VM are two kinds of operations. 2 Object representation with metadata in its header and fields in its body.