garbage

Tuning the JVM – G1GC Garbage Collector Flags for Minecraft

Introduction

After many weeks of studying the JVM, Flags, and testing various combinations, I came up with a highly tuned set of Garbage Collection flags for Minecraft. I tested these on my server, and have been used for years. I then announced my research to the public, and to this day, many servers have been using my flag recommendations for years and reporting great improvement to garbage collection behavior.

These flags are the result of a ton of effort, and results of seeing it in production on various server sizes, plugin lists and server types. They have proven themselves repeatedly.

I strongly suggest using these flags to start your server. These flags help keep your server running CONSISTENT without any large garbage collection spikes. CPU may be slightly higher, but your server will be overall more reliable and stable TPS.

The JVM Startup Flags to use

Use these flags exactly, only changing Xmx and Xms. These flags work and scale accordingly to any size of memory, even 500MB)


Recommended Memory

I recommend using up to 10GB, No matter how few players! If you can’t afford 10Gb of memory, give as much as you can, but ensure you leave the operating system some memory too. G1GC operates better with more memory.

Going over 10GB may start to become subjective, but should be ok. But very few servers really need more than 10GB.

If you are running with 10GB or less memory for MC, you should not adjust these parameters.

Higher Old Generation Memory Needs

If you have a high player count and use more than 10GB of memory, and are seeing old generation lag spikes, you may want to adjust the following:

  • -XX:G1MaxNewSizePercent=60
  • -XX:G1NewSizePercent=40

Technical Explanation of the Flags:

  1. -Xms matching -Xmx – Why: You should never run your server with the case that -Xmx can run the system completely out of memory. Your server should always be expected to use the entire -Xmx! You should then ensure the OS has extra memory on top of that Xmx for non MC/OS level things. Therefore, you should never run MC with -Xmx settings you can’t support if java uses it all.Now, that means if -Xms is lower than -Xmx – YOU HAVE UNUSED MEMORY! Unused memory is wasted memory. G1 (and probably even CMS to a certain threshold, but I’m only stating what I’m sure about) operates better with the more memory its given. G1 adaptively chooses how much memory to give to each region to optimize pause time.If you have more memory than it needs to reach an optimal pause time, G1 will simply push that extra into the old generation and it will not hurt you (This may not be the case for CMS, but is the case for G1)The fundamental idea of improving GC behavior is to ensure short lived objects die young and never get promoted.With the more memory G1 has, the better assurance you will get that objects are not getting prematurely promoted to the old generation.G1 Operates differently than previous collectors and is able to handle larger heaps more efficiently. If it does not need the memory given to it, it will not use it. The entire engine operates differently and does not suffer from too large of heaps, and this is industry wide accepted information that under G1 to keep Xms and Xmx the same!
  2. UnlockExperimentalVMOptions – needed for some the below options
  3. TargetSurvivorRatio: I’m sure your all use to seeing this one suggested. Good news! It’s actually a good flag to use :DThis setting controls how much of the Survivor space is ABLE to be used before promotion. If survivor gets too full, stuff starts promoting to Old Gen. The reason behind this is to be able to handle memory allocation spikes.However, MC allocation rate for most part is pretty steady (steadily high…..), and when its steady its safe to raise this value to avoid premature promotions.
  4. G1NewSize Percent: These are the important ones. In CMS and other Generations, tweaking the New Generation results in FIXED SIZE New Gen and usually is done through explicit size setting with -Xmn.With G1, things are better! You now can specify percentages of an overall desired range for the new generation.With these settings, we tell G1 to not use its default 5% for new gen, and instead give it 50% at least!Minecraft has an extremely high a memory allocation rate, ranging to at least 800 Megabytes a second on a 30 player server! And this is mostly short lived objects (Block Position)Now, this means MC REALLY needs more focus on New Generation to be able to even support this allocation rate. If your new gen is too small, you will be running new gen collections 1-2+ times per second, which is really bad.You will have so many pauses that TPS has risk of suffering, and the server will not be able to keep up with the cost of GC’s.Then combine the fact that objects will now promote faster, resulting in your Old Gen growing faster.Given more NewGen, we are able to slow down the intervals of Young Gen collections, resulting in more time for short lived objects to die young and overall more efficient GC behavior.if you run with a larger heap (15GB+), you may want to lower the minimum to say 40%, but don’t go lower than 30%. This will let G1 have more power in its own assumptions.
  5. G1MixedGCLiveThresholdPercent: Controls when to include Mixed GC’s in the Young GC collection, keeping Old Gen tidy without doing a normal Old Gen GC collection. When your memory is less than this percent, old gen won’t even be included in ‘mixed’ collections. Mixed are not as heavy as a full old collection, so having small incremental cleanups of old keeps memory usage light.
  6. AlwaysPreTouch: AlwaysPreTouch gets the memory setup and reserved at process start ensuring it is contiguous, improving the efficiency of it more. This improves the operating systems memory access speed.
  7. +DisableExplicitGC: Many plugins think they know how to control memory, and try to invoke garbage collection. Plugins that do this trigger a full garbage collection, triggering a massive lag spike. This flag disables plugins from trying to do this, protecting you from their bad code.
  8. MaxGCPauseMillis=100: This setting controls how much memory is used in between the Minimum and Maximum ranges specified for your New Generation. This is a “goal” for how long you want your server to pause for collections. 100 is equal to 2 ticks, aiming for an at most loss of 2 ticks. This will result in a short TPS drop, however Spigot and Paper both can make up for this drop instantly, meaning it will have no meaningful impact to your TPS. 100ms is lower than players can recognize.
  9. +ParallelRefProcEnabled: Optimizes the GC process to use multiple threads

Using Large Pages

Also for Large Pages – It’s even more important to use -Xms = -Xmx! Large Pages needs to have all of the memory specified for it or you could end up without the gains. This memory will not be used by the OS anyways, so use it.
Additionally use these flags (Metaspace is Java 8 Only, don’t use it for Java7):

Code:
 -XX:+UseLargePagesInMetaspace

Thanks to https://product.hubspot.com/blog/g1gc-fundamentals-lessons-from-taming-garbage-collection for helping reinforce my understanding of the flags and introduce improvements!


Changelog

  • 10/4/2018: Removed AggressiveOpts and InitiatingHeapOccupancyPercent. Aggressive is removed in Java 11, and IHOP may hurt performance in Java 11. You should remove them for Java 8 too.
  • 8/18/2018: Adjusted MixedGCLiveThreshold to 35 (from 50) to ensure mixed GC’s start earlier.
    Added notes about recommended use of 10GB of memory.
    Added more flag documentation
  • 5/24/2018: Added -XX:+ParallelRefProcEnabled

 

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I am Senior Software Engineer and Entrepeneur. I am an enthusiast and love creating things. I operate my own side company in my free time called Starlis LLC, working in Minecraft.

I enjoy doing things right and learning modern technologies.