Mark-Copy: Fast copying GC with less space overhead
J. Eliot B. Moss
Copying garbage collectors have a number of advantages over noncopying collectors, including cheap allocation and avoiding fragmentation. However, in order to provide completeness (the guarantee to reclaim each garbage object eventually), standard copying collectors require space equal to twice the size of the maximum live data for a program. We present a mark-copy collection algorithm (MC) that extends generational copying collection and significantly reduces the heap space required to run a program. MC reduces space overhead by 75–85 % compared with standard copying garbage collectors, increasing the range of applications that can use copying garbage collection. We show that when MC is given the same amount of space as a generational copying collector, it improves total execution time of Java benchmarks significantly in tight heaps, and by 5–10 % in moderate size heaps. We also compare the performance of MC with a (non-generational) mark-sweep collector and a hybrid copying/mark-sweep generational collector. We find that MC can run in heaps comparable in size to the minimum heap space required by mark-sweep. We also find that for most benchmarks MC is significantly faster than mark-sweep in small and moderate size heaps. When compared with the hybrid collector, MC improves total execution time by about 5 % for some benchmarks, partly by increasing the speed of execution of the application code.