Grail Quest: A New Proposal for Hardware-assisted Garbage Collection

Many big data systems are written in garbage-collected languages
and GC has a substantial impact on throughput, responsiveness
and predicability of these systems. However, despite decades of
research, there is still no \Holy Grail” of GC: a collector with no
measurable impact, even on real-time applications. Such a collec-
tor needs to achieve freedom from pauses, high GC throughput
and good memory utilization, without slowing down application
threads or using substantial amounts of compute resources.
In this paper, we propose a step towards this elusive goal by
reviving the old idea of moving GC into hardware. We discuss
the trends that make it the perfect time to revisit this approach
and present the design of a hardware-assisted GC that aims to
reconcile the con
icting goals. Our system is work in progress
and we discuss design choices, trade-o s and open questions.