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Flexible automatic memory management for real-time and embedded systems

Publiceringsår: 2003
Språk: Engelska
Dokumenttyp: Licentiatavhandling
Förlag: Department of Computer Science, Lund University


The advent of safe languages like Java on the real-time systems scene motivates further research on efficient strategies for non-intrusive garbage collection and especially GC scheduling. This thesis presents new approaches to flexible and robust memory management from an engineering perspective and is a step towards write once --- run anywhere with hard real-time performance.

The traditional approach to incremental GC scheduling, to perform garbage collection work in proportion to the amount of allocated memory, has drawbacks and in order to remedy this, a scheduling strategy, time-triggered GC, based on assigning a deadline for when the GC must complete its current cycle is proposed. It is shown that this strategy can give real-time performance that is equal to, or better than, that of an allocation-triggered GC. It is also shown that by using a deadline-based scheduler, the GC scheduling and, consequently, the real-time performance, is independent of a complex and error-prone work metric.

Time-triggered GC also allows a more high-level view on GC scheduling as the GC cycle level rather than on each individual increment is considered. This makes it possible to schedule GC as any other thread. It also makes the time-triggered strategy well suited for auto-tuning and it is shown how an adaptive GC scheduler can be implemented.

A novel approach of applying priorities to memory allocation is introduced and it is shown how this can be used to enhance the robustness of real-time applications. The proposed mechanisms can also be used to increase performance of systems with automatic memory management by limiting the amount of garbage collection work.

The ideas brought forward in this thesis have been implemented and validated in an experimental real-time Java environment.


  • Computer Science


  • Boris Magnusson

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