Type Information Elimination from Objects on Architectures with Tagged Pointers Support

Andrey Rodchenko, Christos Kotselidis, Andy Nisbet, Antoniu Pop, Mikel Luján

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Implementations of object-oriented programming languages associate type information with each object to perform various runtime tasks such as dynamic dispatch, type introspection, and reflection. A common means of storing such relation is by inserting a pointer to the associated type information into every object. Such an approach, however, introduces memory and performance overheads when compared with non-object-oriented languages. Recent 64-bit computer architectures have added support for tagged pointers by ignoring a number of bits – tag – of memory addresses during memory access operations and utilize them for other purposes; mainly security. This paper presents the first investigation into how this hardware support can be exploited by a Java Virtual Machine to remove type information from objects. Moreover, we propose novel hardware extensions to the address generation and load-store units to achieve low-overhead type information retrieval and tagged object pointers compression-decompression. The evaluation has been conducted after integrating the Maxine VM and the ZSim microarchitectural simulator. The results, across all the DaCapo benchmark suite, pseudo-SPECjbb2005, SLAMBench and GraphChi-PR executed to completion, show up to 26% and
10% geometric mean heap space savings, up to 50% and 12% geometric mean dynamic DRAM energy reduction, and up to 49% and 3% geometric mean execution time reduction with no significant performance regressions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-143
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computers
Issue number1
Early online date29 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2017


  • Runtime environments, high-level language architectures, simulation.


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