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Increasingly popular languages such as Java and C# require efficient garbage collection. This paper presents the design, implementation, and evaluation of MMTk, a Memory Management Toolkit for and in Java. MMTk is an efficient, composable, extensible, and portable framework for building garbage collectors. MMTk uses design patterns and compiler cooperation to combine modularity and efficiency. The resulting system is more robust, easier to maintain, and has fewer defects than monolithic collectors. Experimental comparisons with monolithic Java and C implementations reveal MMTk has significant performance advantages as well. Performance critical system software typically uses monolithic C at the expense of flexibility. Our results refute common wisdom that only this approach attains efficiency, and suggest that performance critical software can embrace modular design and high-level languages.
Date of Conference: 23-28 May 2004