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Understanding OutOfMemoryError Exception in Java

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  • Difficulty Level : Expert
  • Last Updated : 21 Dec, 2021
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In Java, all objects are stored in a heap. They are allocated using a new operator. The OutOfMemoryError Exception in Java looks like this: 

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: Java heap space

Usually, this error is thrown when the Java Virtual Machine cannot allocate an object because it is out of memory. No more memory could be made available by the garbage collector.

OutOfMemoryError usually means that you’re doing something wrong, either holding onto objects too long or trying to process too much data at a time. Sometimes, it indicates a problem that’s out of your control, such as a third-party library that caches strings or an application server that doesn’t clean up after deploys. And sometimes, it has nothing to do with objects on the heap.

The java.lang.OutOfMemoryError exception can also be thrown by native library code when a native allocation cannot be satisfied (for example, if swap space is low). Let us understand various cases when the OutOfMemory error might occur.

Symptom or Root cause?

To find the cause, the text of the exception includes a detailed message at the end. Let us examine all the errors. 

Error 1 – Java heap space: 

This error arises due to the applications that make excessive use of finalizers. If a class has a finalize method, objects of that type do not have their space reclaimed at garbage collection time. Instead, after garbage collection, the objects are queued for finalization, which occurs later. 

Implementation: 

  • finalizers are executed by a daemon thread that services the finalization queue.
  • If the finalizer thread cannot keep up with the finalization queue, the Java heap could fill up, and this type of OutOfMemoryError exception would be thrown.
  • The problem can also be as simple as a configuration issue, where the specified heap size (or the default size, if it is not specified) is insufficient for the application.

Java




// Java program to illustrate
// Heap error
 
import java.util.*;
 
public class Heap {
    static List<String> list = new ArrayList<String>();
 
    public static void main(String args[]) throws Exception
    {
        Integer[] array = new Integer[10000 * 10000];
    }
}

Output:

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: Java heap space
    at Heap.main(Heap.java:11)

When you execute the above code above you might expect it to run forever without any problems. As a result, over time, with the leaking code constantly used, the “cached” results end up consuming a lot of Java heap space, and when the leaked memory fills all of the available memory in the heap region and Garbage Collection is not able to clean it, the java.lang.OutOfMemoryError:Java heap space is thrown.

Prevention: Check how to monitor objects for which finalization is pending in Monitor the Objects Pending Finalization.

Error 2 – GC Overhead limit exceeded: 

This error indicates that the garbage collector is running all the time and Java program is making very slow progress. After a garbage collection, if the Java process is spending more than approximately 98% of its time doing garbage collection and if it is recovering less than 2% of the heap and has been doing so far the last 5 (compile-time constant) consecutive garbage collections, then a java.lang.OutOfMemoryError is thrown. 

This exception is typically thrown because the amount of live data barely fits into the Java heap having little free space for new allocations. 

Java




// Java program to illustrate
// GC Overhead limit exceeded
 
import java.util.*;
 
public class Wrapper {
    public static void main(String args[]) throws Exception
    {
        Map m = new HashMap();
        m = System.getProperties();
        Random r = new Random();
       
        while (true) {
            m.put(r.nextInt(), "randomValue");
        }
    }
}

If you run this program with java -Xmx100m -XX:+UseParallelGC Wrapper, then the output will be something like this : 

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: GC overhead limit exceeded
    at java.lang.Integer.valueOf(Integer.java:832)
    at Wrapper.main(error.java:9)

Prevention: Increase the heap size and turn off it with the command line flag -XX:-UseGCOverheadLimit. 

Error 3 – Permgen space is thrown: 

Java memory is separated into different regions. The size of all those regions, including the permgen area, is set during the JVM launch. If you do not set the sizes yourself, platform-specific defaults will be used. 

The java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space error indicates that the Permanent Generation’s area in memory is exhausted. 

Java




// Java program to illustrate
// Permgen Space error
 
import javassist.ClassPool;
 
public class Permgen {
    static ClassPool classPool = ClassPool.getDefault();
 
    public static void main(String args[]) throws Exception
    {
        for (int i = 0; i < 1000000000; i++) {
            Class c = classPool.makeClass("com.saket.demo.Permgen" + i).toClass();
            System.out.println(c.getName());
        }
    }
}

In the above sample code, code iterates over a loop and generates classes at run time. Class generation complexity is being taken care of by the Javassist library. 

Running the above code will keep generating new classes and loading their definitions into Permgen space until the space is fully utilized and the java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: Permgen space is thrown. 

Prevention : When the OutOfMemoryError due to PermGen exhaustion is caused during the application launch, the solution is simple. The application just needs more room to load all the classes to the PermGen area, so we need to increase its size. To do so, alter your application launch configuration and add (or increase if present) the -XX:MaxPermSize parameter similar to the following example: 

java -XX:MaxPermSize=512m com.saket.demo.Permgen

Error 4 – Metaspace: 

Java class metadata is allocated in native memory. Suppose metaspace for class metadata is exhausted, a java.lang.OutOfMemoryError exception with a detail MetaSpace is thrown. 

The amount of metaspace used for class metadata is limited by the parameter MaxMetaSpaceSize, which is specified on the command line. When the amount of native memory needed for a class metadata exceeds MaxMetaSpaceSize, a java.lang.OutOfMemoryError exception with a detail MetaSpace is thrown.

Java




// Java program to illustrate
// Metaspace error
 
import java.util.*;
 
public class Metaspace {
    static javassist.ClassPool cp
        = javassist.ClassPool.getDefault();
 
    public static void main(String args[]) throws Exception
    {
        for (int i = 0; i < 100000; i++) {
            Class c = cp.makeClass(
                            "com.saket.demo.Metaspace" + i)
                          .toClass();
        }
    }
}

This code will keep generating new classes and loading their definitions to Metaspace until the space is fully utilized and the java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: Metaspace is thrown. When launched with -XX:MaxMetaspaceSize=64m then on Mac OS X my Java 1.8.0_05 dies at around 70, 000 classes loaded.

Prevention: If MaxMetaSpaceSize, has been set on the command line, increase its value. MetaSpace is allocated from the same address spaces as the Java heap. Reducing the size of the Java heap will make more space available for MetaSpace. This is only a correct trade-off if there is an excess of free space in the Java heap. 

Error 5 – Requested array size exceeds VM limit: 

This error indicates that the application attempted to allocate an array that is larger than the heap size. For example, if an application attempts to allocate an array of 1024 MB but the maximum heap size is 512 MB then OutOfMemoryError will be thrown with “Requested array size exceeds VM limit”. 

Java




// Java program to illustrate
// Requested array size
// exceeds VM limit error
 
import java.util.*;
 
public class GFG {
    static List<String> list = new ArrayList<String>();
 
    public static void main(String args[]) throws Exception
    {
        Integer[] array = new Integer[10000 * 10000];
    }
}

Output:

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: Java heap space
    at GFG.main(GFG.java:12)

The java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: Requested array size exceeds VM limit can appear as a result of either of the following situations: 

  • Your arrays grow too big and end up having a size between the platform limit and the Integer.MAX_INT
  • You deliberately try to allocate arrays larger than 2^31-1 elements to experiment with the limits.

Error 6 – Request size bytes for a reason. Out of swap space?: 

This apparent exception occurred when an allocation from the native heap failed and the native heap might be close to exhaustion. The error indicates the size (in bytes) of the request that failed and the reason for the memory request. Usually, the reason is the name of the source module reporting the allocation failure, although sometimes it is the actual reason. 

The java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: Out of swap space error is often caused by operating-system-level issues, such as: 

  • The operating system is configured with insufficient swap space.
  • Another process on the system is consuming all memory resources.

Prevention: When this error message is thrown, the VM invokes the fatal error handling mechanism (that is, it generates a deadly error log file, which contains helpful information about the thread, process, and system at the time of the crash). In the case of native heap exhaustion, the heap memory and memory map information in the log can be useful.

Error 7 – reason stack_trace_with_native_method: 

Whenever this error message(reason stack_trace_with_native_method) is thrown then a stack trace is printed in which the top frame is a native method, then this is an indication that a native method has encountered an allocation failure. The difference between this and the previous message is that the allocation failure was detected in a Java Native Interface (JNI) or native method rather than the JVM code. 

Java




// Java program to illustrate
// new native thread error
 
import java.util.*;
 
public class GFG {
    public static void main(String args[]) throws Exception
    {
        while (true) {
            new Thread(new Runnable() {
                public void run()
                {
                    try {
                        Thread.sleep(1000000000);
                    }
                    catch (InterruptedException e) {
                    }
                }
            }).start();
        }
    }
}

The exact native thread limit is platform-dependent. For example, tests Mac OS X reveals that: 64-bit Mac OS X 10.9, Java 1.7.0_45 – JVM dies after #2031 threads have been created

Prevention: Use native utilities of the OS to diagnose the issue further. For more information about tools available for various operating systems, see Native Operating System tools

This article is contributed by Saket Kumar. If you like GeeksforGeeks and would like to contribute, you can also write an article using write.geeksforgeeks.org or mail your article to review-team@geeksforgeeks.org. See your article appearing on the GeeksforGeeks main page and help other Geeks. Please write comments if you find anything incorrect, or you want to share more information about the topic discussed above.


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