Article
Ning Zhang · Oct 26, 2016 5m read

Excessive memory usage caused by processes invoking JAVA 6 on AIX 7

It has been noticed that some customers running JAVA programs (for example, FOP) on AIX would see the server eventually running low then out of memory. Customer would notice the system pages heavily and user experience becomes bad. And the server would crash when out of memory.

 

When the problem happens, we can see in ipcs a lot of shared memory segment marked for deletion (Capital D at the beginning of MODE section). This means they will not disappear until the last process attached to the segment detaches it.

 

The problem can be easily recreated using the following command from UNIX prompt on a server running AIX 7, for example:

 

/usr/java6_64/jre/bin/java -Xrs -classpath /scratch3/gcooper/ggc170refp750/dev/java/lib/JDK16/cachegateway.jar:/scratch3/gcooper/ggc170refp750/dev/java/lib/JDK16/cachejdbc.jar:/usr/java6_64/jre/bin com.intersys.gateway.JavaGateway 62001 2>&1

 

It will generate a shared memory segment marked for deletion that can be checked by running ipcs in another UNIX terminal.

 

A truss on the JAVA process shows the following system calls related to shared memory.

 

39191692: 100599669: shmget(-1, 536870912, 8576)       = 199229473

39191692: 100599669: shmctl(0x000000000BE00021, 0x00000000000000C8, 0x0000010010154940) = 0x0000000000000000

39191692: 100599669: shmat(0x000000000BE00021, 0x0000000000000000, 0x0000000000000000) = 0x0A00000000000000

39191692: 100599669: shmctl(0x000000000BE00021, 0x0000000000000000, 0x0000000000000000) = 0x0000000000000000

 

It shows the shared memory segment being created, attached to, and then marked for deletion, without being detached.

 

However, the same command on a server running AIX 6 will not have this problem. A truss shows this at the same place

 

66388396:  109445345: kmmap(0x0000000000000000, 67108864, 3, 17, -1, 0x0000000000000000, 0x0900000000E3F538) = 0x0700000000000000

 

So instead of creating a shared memory segment using shmget() and shmctl(), it simply did a mmap() (and in a smaller size).

 

The root cause was eventually traced down to change SR7 made to JVM version 1.6. The specific change that resulted in this issue is, on AIX systems, the Java heap is now by default allocated with 64K pages, instead of 4K pages default pre-SR7. When the 64K allocation is used and the AIX system is configured to support "Large Page size", the JVM will use shmat() to allocate the heap from shared memory segments. Here’s a comparison of default memory parameters for JVM before and after SR7 using java –version and java - verbose:sizes

 

Pre-SR7

 

java version "1.6.0-internal"

Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build pap6460-20070819_01)

IBM J9 VM (build 2.4, J2RE 1.6.0 IBM J9 2.4 AIX ppc64-64 jvmap6460-20070817_13537 (JIT enabled)

J9VM - 20070817_013537_BHdSMr

JIT  - dev_20070817_1300

GC   - 20070815_AA)

 

 

  -Xmca32K        RAM class segment increment

  -Xmco128K       ROM class segment increment

  -Xmns0K         initial new space size

  -Xmnx0K         maximum new space size

  -Xms4M          initial memory size

  -Xmos4M         initial old space size

  -Xmox64M        maximum old space size

  -Xmx64M         memory maximum

  -Xmr16K         remembered set size

  -Xlp4K          large page size

                  available large page sizes: 4K 64K 16M 16G

  -Xmso256K       OS thread stack size

  -Xiss2K         java thread stack initial size

  -Xssi16K        java thread stack increment

  -Xss512K        java thread stack maximum size

Post-SR7

 

java version "1.6.0"

Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build pap6460sr10-20111208_01(SR10))

IBM J9 VM (build 2.4, JRE 1.6.0 IBM J9 2.4 AIX ppc64-64 jvmap6460sr10-20111207_96808 (JIT enabled, AOT enabled)

J9VM - 20111207_096808

JIT  - r9_20111107_21307ifx1

GC   - 20110519_AA)

JCL  - 20111104_02

 

  -Xmca32K        RAM class segment increment

  -Xmco128K       ROM class segment increment

  -Xmns0K         initial new space size

  -Xmnx0K         maximum new space size

  -Xms4M          initial memory size

  -Xmos4M         initial old space size

  -Xmox512M       maximum old space size

  -Xmx512M        memory maximum

  -Xmr16K         remembered set size

  -Xlp64K          large page size

                  available large page sizes: 4K 64K 16M

  -Xmso256K       operating system thread stack size

  -Xiss2K         java thread stack initial size

  -Xssi16K        java thread stack increment

  -Xss512K        java thread stack maximum size

 

Notice the different in version as well as the default on –Xlp and –Xmx.

 

So we did a test with –Xlp4K specified and the shared memory problem went away. A truss found the JAVA process using mmap() system call instead of shmget().

 

The problem seems to be associated with AIX 7 because AIX 7 comes with a post-SR7 JVM while AIX 6 comes with a pre-SR7 JVM. But it is really about JVM version and any customer who updated their JVM would run into this problem, despite AIX version. That poses a threat to our (at least Trak) customers that they will be hit by this when and if they upgrade JVM on their AIX servers. And we should solve this for them before they got hit.

 

So a quick work-around to the original problem would be to specify –Xlp4k when invoking JAVA so we do not create shared memory segments. That should solve Trak customers’ problem for now.

 

But what really needs to be done is that we should talk to whoever develops JVM for AIX and ask them to put a shmdt() into the code so the process would not stop the shared memory segment from disappearing. This shouldn’t be a problem since it was already marking it for deletion.

 

One other thought is about –Xmx, memory maximum. It looks like JVM would allocate heap the size of –Xmx. For JVM 1.6 SR7 and above, the default got changed from 64MB to 512MB. We should really check into how much our application actually need and specify it to reduce memory consumption.

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