Crash in HotSpot Compiler Thread or Compiled Code

If the fatal error log indicates that the crash occurred in a compiler thread, then it is possible (but not always the case) that you have encountered a compiler bug. Similarly, if the crash is in compiled code then it is possible that the compiler has generated incorrect code.

In the case of the HotSpot Client VM (-client option), the compiler thread appears in the error log as CompilerThread0. With the HotSpot Server VM there are multiple compiler threads and these appear in the error log file as CompilerThread0, CompilerThread1, and AdapterThread.

Below is a fragment of an error log for a compiler bug that was encountered and fixed during the development of J2SE 5.0. The log file shows that the HotSpot Server VM is used and the crash occurred in CompilerThread1. In addition, the log file shows that the Current CompileTask was the compilation of the java.lang.Thread.setPriority method.

# An unexpected error has been detected by HotSpot Virtual Machine:
# Java VM: Java HotSpot(TM) Server VM (1.5-internal-debug mixed mode)
---------------  T H R E A D  ---------------

Current thread (0x001e9350): JavaThread "CompilerThread1" daemon [_thread_in_vm, id=20]

Stack: [0xb2500000,0xb2580000),  sp=0xb257e500,  free space=505k
Native frames: (J=compiled Java code, j=interpreted, Vv=VM code, C=native code)
V  []

Current CompileTask:
opto: 11      java.lang.Thread.setPriority(I)V (53 bytes)

---------------  P R O C E S S  ---------------

Java Threads: ( => current thread )
  0x00229930 JavaThread "Low Memory Detector" daemon [_thread_blocked, id=21]
=>0x001e9350 JavaThread "CompilerThread1" daemon [_thread_in_vm, id=20]

In this case there are two potential workarounds:

  • The brute force approach: change the configuration so that the application is run with the -client option to specify the HotSpot Client VM.
  • Assume that the bug only occurs during the compilation of the setPriority method and exclude this method from compilation.

The first approach (to use the -client option) might be trivial to configure in some environments. In others, it might be more difficult if the configuration is complex or if the command line to configure the VM is not readily accessible. In general, switching from the HotSpot Server VM to the HotSpot Client VM also reduces the peak performance of an application. Depending on the environment, this might be acceptable until the actual issue is diagnosed and fixed.

The second approach (exclude the method from compilation) requires creating the file .hotspot_compiler in the working directory of the application. Below is an example of this file:

exclude    java/lang/Thread    setPriority

In general the format of this file is exclude CLASS METHOD, where CLASS is the class (fully qualified with the package name) and METHOD is the name of the method. Constructor methods are specified as <init> and static initializers are specified as <clinit>.

Note – The .hotspot_compiler file is an unsupported interface. It is documented here solely for the purposes of troubleshooting and finding a temporary workaround.

Once the application is restarted, the compiler will not attempt to compile any of the methods listed as excluded in the .hotspot_compiler file. In some cases this can provide temporary relief until the root cause of the crash is diagnosed and the bug is fixed.

In order to verify that the HotSpot VM correctly located and processed the .hotspot_compiler file that is shown in the example above, look for the following log information at runtime. Note that the file name separator is a dot, not a slash.

### Excluding compile:    java.lang.Thread::setPriority

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