sun.misc.Unsafe fixed in J9

John Duimovich from IBM contacted me shortly after I posted here about the bug we found in J9’s implementation of the sun.misc.Unsafe interface. We were able to narrow down the issue to memory accesses though sun.misc.Unsafe with an odd offset and provided this description to John the same night. The next morning John and the J9 team identified and fixed the problem (a wrong code path was taken based on the least significant bit). It took IBM less than 24h to fix this issue, measured from the time I mentioned it on my blog. Thats pretty impressive I would say :)

John also reported of a vivid discussion amongst the J9 team whether using sun.misc.Unsafe is a good idea in the first place. The main reason for us to use it was that we independently optimize null, type and bounds checks and we wanted the HostVM’s JIT to not emit these checks if our optimizer already ensured them. Both, Hotspot and J9, breaking on the generated code forced us to reconsider. We are now using regular xALOAD/xASTORE and GET/PUT/FIELD/STATIC instructions to access memory instead of sun.misc.Unsafe. This incurs quite some overhead, unfortunately. If we are able to obtain a developer snapshot of J9 that contains the fix described above, we might be able to benchmark with J9. In parallel we are trying to nail down the issue in Hotspot. If neither option is available by the deadline we will go with the pure bytecode backend, which is not ideal but better than nothing.