The JRuby Blog

The Ruby Programming Language on the JVM

Monitoring Memory Allocation Per Thread

Published by Charles Oliver Nutter on

Perhaps the largest benefit of JRuby being on the JVM is the excellent tool ecosystem. There’s an enormous collections of debuggers, profilers, and general monitoring tools available for JVM that work great with JRuby. Even better, a surprising number of these tools are built into each JVM.

One of these tool sets is the package. Here, you’ll find a number of JMX beans for monitoring the status and health of the JVM. Some of the information presented by these beans is standard, like lists of memory pools (heaps) or the number of available processors on the current system. But each JVM may also expose additional information.

On OpenJDK, starting with 6u25, the built-in ThreadMXBean exposes an additional operation: getThreadAllocatedBytes. How can JRubyists take advantage of it?

Monitoring Thread Allocation

Of course, via JRuby’s Java integration, we can easily call any of the management beans’ operations, and getThreadAllocatedBytes is no different.

We start by loading the ‘java’ and ‘jruby’ libraries, to access Java classes and some normally-hidden JRuby features.

require 'java'
require 'jruby'

We get access to the ThreadMXBean via the ManagementFactory class.

thread_bean =

Now, we will create a thread that endlessly creates a new string, and get references to that thread’s and the main thread’s native java.lang.Thread object.

t1 = do
  a = nil
  loop do
    a = 'foo'
t1_thread = JRuby.reference(t1).native_thread

main = Thread.current
main_thread = JRuby.reference(main).native_thread

Now that we’ve got a thread busily allocating data, we set up a loop that prints out both threads’ allocated bytes once every second. The getThreadAllocatedBytes method takes an array of thread IDs and returns an array of byte counts, both as long[].

loop do
  sleep 1
  t1_alloc = thread_bean.get_thread_allocated_bytes([].to_java(:long))[0]
  main_alloc = thread_bean.get_thread_allocated_bytes([].to_java(:long))[0]
  puts "main allocated: #{main_alloc}"
  puts "t1 allocated: #{t1_alloc}"

(Note the bit of Java integration array-munging; par for the course going from Ruby’s heterogeneous Array to Java’s homogeneous arrays.)

And that’s it! Here’s the output on my system for five iterations of the loop:

main allocated: 11343752
t1 allocated: 378806608
main allocated: 11359632
t1 allocated: 767226768
main allocated: 11361624
t1 allocated: 1156928944
main allocated: 11363616
t1 allocated: 1547160976
main allocated: 11365608
t1 allocated: 1930237360

I’ve gisted the full script here: Monitoring Thread Allocation.

Your Turn

This is just one of many fun (and useful!) ways you can monitor the JVM using JRuby. Poke around in ManagementFactory and see what else you can find!