Java has only two types of memory when it comes to JVM. Heap memory and Non-heap memory. All the other memory jargons you hear are logical part of either of these two.
Class instances and arrays are stored in heap memory. Heap memory is also called as shared memory. As this is the place where multiple threads will share the same data.
It comprises of ‘Method Area’ and other memory required for internal processing. So here the major player is ‘Method Area’.
As given in the last line, method area is part of non-heap memory. It stores per-class structures, code for methods and constructors. Per-class structure means runtime constants and static fields.
The above three (heap memory, non-heap memory and method area) are the main jargon when it comes to memory and JVM. There are some other technical jargon you might have heard and I will summarize them below.
Memory pools are created by JVM memory managers during runtime. Memory pool may belong to either heap or non-heap memory.
Runtime Constant Pool
A run time constant pool is a per-class or per-interface run time representation of the constant_pool table in a class file. Each runtime constant pool is allocated from the Java virtual machine’s method area.
Java Stacks or Frames
Java stacks are created private to a thread. Every thread will have a program counter (PC) and a java stack. PC will use the java stack to store the intermediate values, dynamic linking, return values for methods and dispatch exceptions. This is used in the place of registers.
HotSpot VM’s garbage collector uses generational garbage collection. It separates the JVM’s memory into and they are called young generation and old generation.
Young generation memory consists of two parts, Eden space and survivor space. Shortlived objects will be available in Eden space. Every object starts its life from Eden space. When GC happens, if an object is still alive and it will be moved to survivor space and other dereferenced objects will be removed.
Old Generation – Tenured and PermGen
Old generation memory has two parts, tenured generation and permanent generation (PermGen). PermGen is a popular term. We used to error like PermGen space not sufficient.
GC moves live objects from survivor space to tenured generation. The permanent generation contains meta data of the virtual machine, class and method objects.
Java specification doesn’t give hard and fast rules about the design of JVM with respect to memory. So it is completely left to the JVM implementers. The types of memory and which kind of variable / objects and where they will be stored is specific to the JVM implementation.
- Local Variables are stored in Frames during runtime.
- Static Variables are stored in Method Area.
- Arrays are stored in heap memory.
- MemoryPoolMXBean provides you api to explore the memory usage, threshold notifications, peak memory usage and memory usage monitoring.
- Java Docs API for JConsole
- Threads and Locks chapter of Java Language Specification talks lot about java memory
- Chapter 5 of Inside the Java Virtual Machine, The Java Virtual Machine by Bill Venners