Java Text File Performance

Please tell me what I've done wrong, because I think I've measured Java as being 7.2 times slower than Smalltalk on the same platform reading the same file.

Here's the scenario.

The file is an ascii text file containing 347,847 lines and totalling 8,101,370 bytes.

The task of each program (Java and Smalltalk) is to read the file a line at a time and answer an array of 347,847 strings, each containing one record from the file.

The Java is VisualAgeJava, the Smalltalk is VisualAgeSmalltalk. The platform is a 256MB NT machine with reasonable performance.

Here's the java (add the necessary declarations yourself):

    String[]          answer = null;
    String            aString = null;
    BufferedReader?    aReader = null;
    Vector            aVector = null;

try { aVector = new Vector(); aReader = new BufferedReader?(new FileReader?("g:/gecko/input/stub.CEL")); while ((aString = aReader.readLine()) != null) { aVector.add(aString); } aReader.close();

answer = (String[])aVector.toArray(new String[0]); } catch (IOException e) { e.printStackTrace(); } return answer;

Here's the analogous Smalltalk:

    | aFileStream aLine outStream answer |

aFileStream := CfsReadFileStream? open: 'g:/gecko/input/stub.CEL'. outStream := ReadWriteStream? on: Array new.

[aFileStream atEnd not] whileTrue: [ aLine := aFileStream nextLine. outStream nextPut: aLine. ]. aFileStream close. answer := outStream contents.

The measured time, in Java, is 132.580 seconds ... about 2 minutes, 12 seconds.

The measured time, in Smalltalk, is 18.3 seconds.

It looks to me like the Smalltalk is more than 7 times faster.

Should I read the file a different way in Java? Am I doing something blindingly stupid (besides contemplating Java for this task)?

I just re-ran the java, skipping the part that added each string to the vector, and got 12.5 seconds. Wow!

Is VisualAgeJava really meant to be used to run code in production? I got the impression that you were supposed to deploy your application in another JVM? If this is true you might get better performance still.

Also, try another collection than java.util.Vector. It needlessly synchronizes every operation on it.
This is a factor SEVEN we're talking about. I would be astonished if there was a difference of even a factor of two from the choice of VM's or collection classes.

I did some further investigation.

I tried using ArrayList to store the strings read from the file, and I also tried simply writing them into a pre-allocated array. The choice of collection classes appeared to produce no significant difference in performance. It would seem that the bottleneck is the string allocation time; when saved, each pass through the loop requires additional string storage.

For simply reading the file (and discarding the output), here were the results:
 VisualAgeSmalltalk:  1.7 Seconds
 VisualAgeJava:      12.5 Seconds

Again, about a factor of 7.

So there are now TWO data points: (1) simply reading the text file and (2) reading the text file into an array of strings. For each, VisualAgeJava was SEVEN times slower than VisualAgeSmalltalk.

Finally, for what its worth, a co-worker did a similar exercise in Perl and measured 80 seconds.

So ... it would appear that Java is the SLOWEST, by far, Perl was next, and Smalltalk was fastest.

12.5 seconds is slower than 80 seconds? In what parallel dimension would this be the case?!


Try using an ArrayList instead of a Vector. In certain tests we did, ArrayLists performed consistently better (i.e. faster) for inserts than any other Collection.

A suggestion - run OptimizeIt on the test program. See what it identifies as the bottlenecks. Optionally, report back with your results. ;)

Storing the Strings is taking you about 120 seconds, or about 3 stores per millisecond. This seemed awful to me, so I wrote this code to try it for myself:

 import java.util.*;

public class TimeVector? { public static void main(String args[]) { String[] answer = null; Vector aVector = null;

try { long timer = System.currentTimeMillis(); int i = 347847; //347847; aVector = new Vector(); while (i-- > 0) { aVector.add(""+i); }

answer = (String[])aVector.toArray(new String[0]); System.out.println(System.currentTimeMillis() - timer); } catch (Exception e) { e.printStackTrace(); } } }

I ran it under JDK 1.3 on my brother's machine (I was trying to get as close to your setup as possible): Unfortunately for comparisons, all of these are probably different than what you've got. At any rate, I got the following numbers: 6650, 6590, 6590, 7470 -- for an average of 6.825 seconds, or about 17 times as fast as the roughly equivalent code in your setup.

Under adverse memory conditions, it takes more like 20 seconds (6x).

I know this doesn't speak to the original I/O question, but it does seem like times tend to vary a great deal. Does VisualAge use the 1.3 HotSpot VM? That could be a lot of it. It would also be somewhat informative if you could run the above code on your setup and report back with the results.

Another possibility is that you're falling off a MemoryCliff: Java Strings take up about twice the space as ASCII strings. What kind of numbers do you get with a half-size version of the original problem? --GeorgePaci
Check the vm options. Make sure the jit is turned on. My seat-of-the-pants tests with the IBM JDK 1.3 Classic VM (build 1.3.0, J2RE 1.3.0 IBM build cx130-20001124 (JIT enabled: jitc)) and Sun's 1.3 Java HotSpot(TM) Client VM (build 1.3.0_02, mixed mode) showed that turning off the jit made the code seven and three times slower, respectively, on a Debian Linux 2.4.2 kernel/libc 2.1.3 running on an AMD 1.1Ghz Athlon w/512MB. Times with the IBM jvm were around .8 seconds with a 10,989,663 byte, 6,6054 line file and about 1.5 secoonds with the Sun jvm with the jit on. Changing Vector to ArrayList didn't make much of a difference. I could get it down to around .66 seconds by increasing the heap size.

Here's a slightly more closely matching test:

 C:\tmp>c:\jdk1.3.0_02\bin\java -classic TextFileTest
 Vector time (secs): 27.299
 ArrayList time (secs): 25.257

C:\tmp>c:\IBMJDK13\bin\java -Xmx256m -Xms256m TextFileTest Vector time (secs): 0.761 ArrayList time (secs): 0.711

Wow! A difference of a factor of 38. File here was 11,953,623 bytes, 109323 lines. Machine Pentium III 733Mhz, 256MB, Windows NT4 workstation.

-- StevenNewton
Yeah, we did some comparisons here. My VisualAgeJava runs Java1.2 -- 148 seconds, give or take. We ran the same code on the Sun SDK 1.3 VM, and measured 7 seconds. With some switch finagling, we got 2.3 seconds for the same code.

When we ran under the old SDK version 1.2.2, we pulled an out-of-memory exception. So it seems that something in the 1.2 environment does, in fact, create a MemoryCliff, that VisualAgeJava manages to recover from (at great cost in performance), that the 1.2.2 VM simply crashes and burns on, and that the 1.3 VM avoids altogether.

"Wow" is right!
The ComputerLanguageBenchmarksGame seems to suggest a similar result.

I fiddled some more with my (non-text-file) code, and discovered something predictable, then something surprising.

First, I upped the size of each String I added to the Vector. This made me hit a MemoryCliff: it went from taking around 7 seconds to around 140 seconds, with only about a 10% change in problem size. Upping the initial heap size for the JVM (to 12 MB) took care of this cliff.

But when I upped the initial heap size some more (to 20 MB), my performance worsened -- back to around 140 seconds again. The best explanation I can think of is that 20 MB of heap, plus whatever the JVM uses itself, plus the OS, plus whatever other apps I had running (Xemacs, the browser), is greater than 60 MB, and therefore my nice big heap is getting paged in and out of memory. In fact, I could hear the disk whirring away.

What kind of puzzles me is that I could hear the disk whirring away when I had set the initial heap size to be too small, as well. Am I missing something in the gradually accreted complexity of a JVM on top of an OS with VM on top of MS-DOS? --GeorgePaci

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