Do I need to understand the difference between 32-bit JVM and 64-bit JVM?
If you aren’t building a performance critical application, you don’t have to understand the difference. The subtle difference between 32-bit JVM and 64-bit JVM wouldn’t make much difference to your application. You can skip reading further.
Does 64-bit JVM perform better than 32-bit JVM?
Most of us think 64-bit is bigger than 32-bit, thus 64-bit JVM performance will be better than 32-bit JVM performance. Unfortunately, it’s not the case. 64-bit JVM can have a small performance degradation than 32-bit JVM. Below is the excerpt from Oracle JDK documentation regarding 64-bit JVM performance:
“Generally, the benefits of being able to address larger amounts of memory come with a small performance loss in 64-bit VMs versus running the same application on a 32-bit VM.
The performance difference comparing an application running on a 64-bit platform versus a 32-bit platform on SPARC is on the order of 10-20% degradation when you move to a 64-bit VM. On AMD64 and EM64T platforms this difference ranges from 0-15% depending on the amount of pointer accessing your application performs.”
Why 64-bit JVM performance can be slower than 32-bit JVM?
This is due to the fact that every native pointer in the system takes up 8 bytes instead of 4. The loading of this extra data has an impact on memory usage which translates to slightly slower execution depending on how many pointers get loaded during the execution of your Java program. The good news is that with AMD64 and EM64T platforms running in 64-bit mode, the Java VM gets some additional registers which it can use to generate more efficient native instruction sequences. These extra registers increase performance to the point where there is often no performance loss at all when comparing 32 to 64-bit execution speed.
What are the things to consider when migrating from 32-bit JVM to 64-bit JVM?
a. GC Pause times
The primary reason to migrate from 32-bit JVM to 64-bit JVM is to attain large heap size (i.e. -Xmx). When you increase heap size, automatically your GC pause times will start to go high, because now there is more garbage in the memory to clear up. You need to do proper GC tuning before doing the migration, otherwise your application can experience several seconds to few minutes pause time. You can use the tools like GCeasy to come up with right GC settings for newly increased heap size.
b. Native Library
If your application is using Java Native Interface (JNI) to access native libraries, then you need to upgrade the native libraries as well. Because 32-bit JVM can use only 32-bit native library. Similarly, 64-bit JVM can use only 64-bit native library.
When should I use 32-bit vs 64-bit JVM?
< 2GB memory: If your application’s heap size (i.e. -Xmx) is less than 2GB, then it’s no brainer decision. Go with 32-bit JVM.
> 2GB memory: If your application needs more than 2GB, then also it’s no brainer decision. Go with 64-bit JVM. However, do proper performance tests to measure and mitigate the impact.
How to find whether my application is running on 32-bit or 64-bit JVM?
There are few options. Let me show couple of options:
Option 1: From the command prompt issue the command:
If it’s a 64-bit JVM, you will see the output to contain word: “64-Bit”. Example:
java version "1.8.0_181"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.8.0_181-b13)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 25.181-b13, mixed mode)
If it’s a 32-bit JVM, you will *not* see the word: “64-Bit”. Example:
java version "1.8.0_211"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.8.0_211-b12)
Java HotSpot(TM) Client VM (build 25.211-b12, mixed mode)
Option 2: You issue following statement from your java program:
System.out.println(System.getProperty("sun.arch.data.model") + "-bit JVM");
Based on the JVM type appropriate version will be printed on the console.
Can I run 32-bit JVM on a 64-bit Operating System?
There 32-bit OS and 64-bit OS. If you are running on 32-bit operating System (which is rare to find these days), you can run only 32-bit JVM. On the other hand if you are running on 64-bit operating system, you can run your application either on 32-bit JVM or on a 64-bit JVM.