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Puzzled by a performance glitch? You might have to look at the generated code.

Examining generated code

The following HotSpot options (with an -XX: prefix on the command line) require OpenJDK 7 and an externally loadable disassembler plugin:

  • +PrintAssembly print assembly code for bytecoded and native methods
  • +PrintNMethods print nmethods as they are generated
  • +PrintNativeNMethods print native method wrappers as they are generated
  • +PrintSignatureHandlers print native method signature handlers
  • +PrintAdapterHandlers print adapters (i2c, c2i) as they are generated
  • +PrintStubCode print stubs: deopt, uncommon trap, exception, safepoint, runtime support
  • +PrintInterpreter print interpreter code

These flags are "diagnostic", meaning that they must be preceded by -XX:+UnlockDiagnosticVMOptions. On the command line, they must all be preceded by -XX:. They may also be placed in a flags file, .hotspotrc by default, or configurable as -XX:Flags=myhotspotrc.txt.

The disassembly output is annotated with various kinds of debugging information, such as field names and source locations. The quality of this information improved markedly in January 2010 (bug fix 6912062).


Complete file: sample-disassembly.txt

Plugin Implementations

There are 2 implementations around:

OpenJDK sources (defines the plugin API)

This version of the plugin requires the Gnu disassembler, which is available separately as part of the binutils project.

Look at the README for instructions on building. Pre-built binaries do not seem to be available (help... anyone?). Prebuilt binaries for Windows-x86: hsdis-i386.dll

Kenai project base-hsdis

This is a from-scratch implementation which uses code from the Bastard project at SourceForge. The copyrights on this code are non-restrictive.

The Kenai project offers binary downloads.

Installing the Plugin

Once you succeed in building or downloading the hsdis binary library (in the following named DLL), you have to install it next to your (jvm.dll on Windows), in the same folder. (Alternatively, you can put it anywhere on your LD_LIBRARY_PATH.) The DLL must be given the name that the JVM will be looking for. The core of the name will be hsdis-i386 for 32-bit Intel JVMs. Other names in use are hsdis-amd64, hsdis-sparc, and hsdis-sparcv9. A prefix and/or suffix will be required, according to system-dependent rules for naming DLLs.

installing the plugin on Solaris
$ JDK7=my/copy/of/jre1.7.0
$ cp -p hsdis/.libs/ $JDK7/lib/i386/client/
$ cp -p hsdis/.libs/ $JDK7/lib/i386/server/
$ XJAVA="$JDK7/bin/java -XX:+UnlockDiagnosticVMOptions -XX:+PrintAssembly"
$ $XJAVA -Xcomp -cp ~/Classes hello
$ $XJAVA -Xcomp -cp ~/Classes -XX:PrintAssemblyOptions=hsdis-print-bytes hello
$ $XJAVA -XX:-PrintAssembly -XX:+PrintStubCode
$ $XJAVA -XX:-PrintAssembly -XX:+PrintInterpreter
$ $XJAVA -XX:-PrintAssembly -XX:+PrintSignatureHandlers
$ $XJAVA -Xbatch -cp ~/Classes -XX:+PrintCompilation myloopingbenchmark

The last line (with myloopingbenchmark) is most typical, since it uses the batch execution mode common with benchmarks. The -XX:+PrintCompilation flag will let you know which (if any) methods are being compiled.

Filtering Output

The -XX:+PrintAssembly option prints everything. If that's too much, drop it and use one of the following options.

Individual methods may be printed:

  • CompileCommand=print,*MyClass.myMethod prints assembly for just one method
  • CompileCommand=option,*MyClass.myMethod,PrintOptoAssembly (debug build only) produces the old print command output
  • CompileCommand=option,*MyClass.myMethod,PrintNMethods produces method dumps

These options accumulate.

If you get no output, use -XX:+PrintCompilation to verify that your method is getting compiled at all.

Reading the compiler's mind

The -XX:+LogCompilation flag produces a low-level XML file about compiler and runtime decisions, which may be interesting to some. The -XX:+UnlockDiagnosticVMOptions must come first. The dump is to hotspot.log in the current directory; use -XX:LogFile=foo.log to change this.

The LogCompilation output is basic line-oriented XML. It can usefully be read in a text editor, and there are also tools for parsing and scanning it.

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  1. Jul 26, 2012

    I have documented the process of building the disassembler plugin from the OpenJDK sources on Windows here: How to build hsdis-amd64.dll and hsdis-i386.dll on Windows. Feel free to add this link to the main article if it is considered useful. Unfortunately, I don't think I can share prebuilt binaries, as it would seem to violate both the OpenJDK license (GPLv2, which is incompatible with binutils' GPLv3) and Oracle's Terms of Use ("You agree that you will not Share any Content that [...] is binary executable code").

  2. Oct 01, 2013

    If anyone's interested I've built a tool called JITWatch for visually inspecting hotspot.log and open-sourced it on GitHub.

    Link is and instructions are

  3. Jun 24, 2014

    There are pre-built binaries for Windows i386 and amd64 based on FCML library:

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