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BigMemory Ehcache Addon Dumps Java Garbage Collection

Terracotta has released to beta a new Java addon for the Enterprise version of its Ehcache distributed Java caching software designed to free Java applications from the memory and performance constraints of Garbage Collection (GC).

Dubbed BigMemory, the pure Java addon is compatible with many Java Virtual Machines (JVMs) and provides an off-heap cache that results in "an instant and effortless" large memory footprint for hundreds of thousands of Java applications, explained Terracotta CEO Amit Pandey.

"We literally stumbled across this product," Pandey said "Our servers are written in Java, and our server engineers were working on ways of providing bigger heap sizes. When 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."

Ehcache is the 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.

The limit on the size of JVMs imposed by GC has long been a major challenge for Enterprise Java apps. Anne MacFarland, senior contributing analyst at the Clipper Group, called the addon "a step forward in the evolution of Enterprise Java."

San Francisco based Terracotta is the founding company of the open source Terracotta project. Terracotta clusters Java Virtual Machines (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.

BigMemory, which is designed for stand-alone and distributed caches, allows Java applications to "cache 64 GBs or more of data in an off-heap store that's not subject to GC," according to the company. Enabling a larger cache increases app throughput and response times, Pandey claimed.

"If your app was tuned to one-second garbage collection," he explained, "when you turn on BigMemory, you can just keep increasing that memory size and it'll stay below that one-second."

Available in beta today, BigMemory is set for general availability in October. To check out the beta, go 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].

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