, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 21-33

A Tree-Based Alternative to Java Byte-Codes

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Abstract

Despite the apparent success of the Java Virtual Machine, its lackluster performance makes it ill-suited for many speed-critical applications. Although the latest just-in-time compilers and dedicated Java processors try to remedy this situation, optimized code compiled directly from a C program source is still considerably faster than software transported via Java byte-codes. This is true even if the Java byte-codes are subsequently further translated into native code. In this paper, we claim that these performance penalties are not a necessary consequence of machine-independence, but related to Java's particular intermediate representation and runtime architecture. We have constructed a prototype and are further developing a software transportability scheme founded on a tree-based alternative to Java byte-codes. This tree-based intermediate representation is not only twice as compact as Java byte-codes, but also contains more high-level information, some of which is critical for advanced code optimizations. Our architecture not only provides on-the-fly code generation from this intermediate representation, but also continuous re-optimization of the existing code-base by a low-priority background process. The re-optimization process is guided by up-to-the-minute profiling data, leading to superior runtime performance.