Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Craig Lowell, Jonathan Fries, Jnan Dash, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

Reader Feedback Special: Java vs C++ Benchmark Brouhaha

Reader Feedback Special: Java vs C++ Benchmark Brouhaha

  • Java vs C++ "Shootout" Revisited
  • Read/Join the Feedback to the original article 

    On Monday we published an article about Keith Lea's one-man attempt to take the benchmark code for C++ and Java from the now outdated Great Computer Language Shootout conducted by Doug Bagley in Fall 2001 and run the tests himself. Within 12 hours 40,000 people had read the piece and by the end of the day Bagley's "Shootout" had even been revived as an ongoing Debian Alioth project.

    But while the team behind that project cheerfully says on its Web site "Contributions are welcomed for revised implementations, bug fixes, or ideas for new benchmarks," not everyone agrees with this kind of activity.

    When Bagley did the original shootout, he said it was "To learn and to have fun," adding that he would continue continue "as long as the fun holds out." This notion of enjoyment has been revived by the Debian Alioth update: 

    "The project goals have not changed substantially since Doug's original project. This work is continuing so that we all can learn about new languages, compare them in various (possibly meaningless) ways, and most importantly, have some fun!"
    But many of those who troubled to record their views in the course of the past few days did not recognize benchmarking/microbenchmarking as anything worth doing at all.

    Some took issue with Lea's choice of performance speed as the parameter to compare Java and C++. One, Lachlan Stuart, wrote:

    "What you must realize is that C++ and Java have much different targets, it's rare that you will encounter a situation where both are equally suitable. No matter what, unless you forget to turn debug compile off, C++ will beat Java in real world situations on the performance front..."

    "Try praising something else about Java...like its security, or ease of programming," Stuart continued.

    GooberToo concurred. "The more I read the code, it sure is starting to look more and more like an apples and oranges comparison; which is usually what happens when people do Java benchmarks." And Iain too was unhappy: "Aside from perhaps demonstrating that you know Java far better than you know C++, I don't think these tests were a particularly useful exercise."

    Others too felt that Lea's relative unfamiliarity with C++ compromised the exercise. "This article is completely useless and only shows the lack of understanding of C++ by the author," wrote Dr Valentin Samko. "This reminds me of a person who clamed that qbasic is faster than C++ because his program which outputs a few million blank lines works faster in qbasic than in C++."

    Glen Low queried the shootout's methodology on a number of counts. Here is one:

    "The small size of the programs are a definite advantage for Java's runtime optimizer. A run-time optimizer can't spend forever optimizing, but it has access to actual run-time data, AND can specialize its optimization for the specific processor. (G++, and most other C++ compilers, have flags to allow this as well.) Given the small size, a complete analysis of the program is possible in the limited time available, and given the other additional data, I would find it rather worrisome if Java didn't do better. I'm more sceptical with regards to real programs, however. If there really is one small critical loop, Java should win; that's not the case for most of my programs, however."
    Scott Ellsworth disagreed with those who dismissed Lea's shootout, though. "The point is that many C++ users feel that Java is too slow and uses too much memory. Microbenchmarks like this show that this off the cuff response is as silly as claiming that exceptions cost too much just because cfront compilers had that cost," he wrote. 

    Ellsworth continued:

    "I spent seven years doing C++ in a shrink wrap environment, and five doing Java. In my experience with real world apps, Java code gets done faster, works better out of the box, and is easier to maintain. Tricks like custom memory allocators and carefully crafted templates can make faster C++ code, but I reserve those for time critical parts of the program. Where I do not spend some programmer cycles profiling and optimizing, the two environments are pretty close.

    Thus - if Java is producing code reasonably close or ahead in fairly straightforward usage, and the code gets written faster and more portably, then Java is a win for my work. I can always choose to use C++, assembly, or FORTRAN for the time critical routines, and then link in."
    Patrik Beno issued a challenge. "I suggest that now it's time for C++ experts to optimize C++ code and compilation, run the very same tests again and post the results."

    "Don't blame Lea, he did his best, now it's your turn, C++ experts," he added.

    Perhaps SWagner would be someone who will rise to the challenge in due course. S/he wasn't at all happy with Lea, writing:

    "As an experienced C++ developer (and Java as well) I only see that the C++ code is optimized for minimum performance. Especially the methodcall where the class has virtual constructors or destructors which is seldom useful and significantly hurts performance. Just because you can't turn this off in Java does not mean that you have to make it slow in C++."
    "In my practical experience," continued Wagner, "normal Java code is 1000 times slower [compared] to OPTIMIZED C++. However if you make severe design flaws you can make any program slow. And if you base on a bad benchmark and make it even worse you should better stop any benchmarking you planned for the future."

    Somewhat less disgruntled was m, who wrote: "The benchmarks are interesting, but frankly with real applications, I have never experienced Java performance equal to or better than that of C++."

    "I have done a number of home-grown benchmarks for XML parsing, and C/C++ (think expat) are 3-9 times faster," m continued. "The difference there is that the server JVM does indeed optimize over a series of many runs. Java certainly allows us to develop faster, and quite often time to market performance is more important than the performance differences in these two (great in my opinion) platforms. They each have specific advantages."

    This, not surprisingly, was the essence of quite a few of the comments. "Java is faster for some applications than C++, and for others C++ is faster. It depends on what you want to do with it," said RebelCool

    But Iain's objection was to the choice of tools to compare, to the entire premise of the shootout in other words: 
    "The comparison [Lea is] trying to make between C++ and Java is not particularly meaningful. At the end of the day, if a VM is faster, then there is nothing to stop you implementing a VM in C++ and running the 'C++ program' within that framework. What times would then be valid? The tools you are comparing are very different.
    In addition, the C++ code is seriously sub-optimal. To take one example, the 'matrix.cpp' is definitely not written for speed. A general purpose C function is being used to repeatedly allocate rows, when a single large block of size 'mn' could have been used. For that matter, why is malloc( ) being used at all? (A custom memory manager optimised for small blocks could have been used instead - malloc( ) is slow.)

    If you insist on writing simple C, then at least use memset( ) for the zeromatrix( ) function. Fast template matrix libraries exist for C++ - these could have been used instead - the result would have been shorter, clearer and considerably faster. Aside from perhaps demonstrating that you know Java far better than you know C++, I don't think these tests were a particularly useful exercise."

    NotZed disagreed with the premise too, writing: "Java works well as a COBOL replacement, a backend application language for boring buisiness apps. That's what it should be benchmarked against. Comparing it to C is like comparing apples and oranges."

    Chris countered: "Surely the benchmark is no less meaningful than when it was originally used to show C++ was faster than Java."  

    And Christopher White commented:

    "Thanks for the comparison Keith. I enjoyed reading your commentary.

    Many people have stated in response to this article that Java, as everyone knows, is slow... This is certainly not the case. I am team leader of a Java development team. We have six applications in production on a certain open source application server. We have 1200 users of these applications. The applications are load-balanced over two machines (each machine : HP DL380 2*2.8GHz 2Gb RAM). We have on average 2% Cpu utilisation. Whilst this is of course just a subjective view of Java performance, I can say that we certainly do not have the impression that Java is at all slow.

    I accept that for memory deallocation C++ can be tailored to the needs of the application at hand so it will be difficult to beat on this score, however one must remember that the just in time compiler compiles code into native machine language and that this compiler is very much optimized on a per platform basis so I don't see why C++ should produce naturally faster compiled code.

    Whichever is faster, Java is easily fast enough for most applications and I strongly believe that the overhead in development time incurred by using C++ is rarely justified except in specialized applications such as driver or game coding."

    For the moment let's give the last word to SB:

    "Java and C++ are different languages, with different advantages/drawbacks, and different philosophies. My experience, from a large company that produces tons of software, is that performance always comes down to the quality of the developers, not the language itself. And we also found out that in today's world, most developers are only average, and this class of developers yields better results with Java than C++."
    The debate, as they say, will doubtless continue...

  • More Stories By Java News Desk

    JDJ News Desk monitors the world of Java to present IT professionals with updates on technology advances, business trends, new products and standards in the Java and i-technology space.

    Comments (3) View Comments

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    Most Recent Comments
    icube 06/29/04 05:47:18 AM EDT

    shootout has a great interest but not between C++ and java but between ocaml and java .... :-))))
    java .net .... are marketing tools they all lay on their
    own performance ... only OCAML can be put in a nuclear plant (see the java license ;-) ! why ? no compromise ... with complexity and strenght ... strongly typed when java start at jdk 1.5 ( ~ with 20 years) but with bad ;-) tools many people can do business ... write books .... java performance tuning (a good book also for java world!) and provide services ... version of jVm etc ... java and .net are arifacts of the object marketing big bazard ...
    put the programmers community attention on OCAML and let programmers discover concepts and features, performance of vm ;-),let them, develop OCaml stack and one again check performance with J2EE or .NET ? ;-) who wins ?
    In shootout performance, OCAML is closer to C++ and C, overall winner of minimal line of code ... , platform independant.
    Why Microsoft R&D investigate on F# an OCAML sub language for its CLR layer ;-) and why OCAML is the best programming languge of MIT and INRIA(French R&D) teams ?

    be aware & wake up !!!
    by a java tuning specialist ... ocamly converted @;-)
    icube
    (ps: new strategic anti-pattern :
    "strongly type client" : If you are a client for a j2ee or .net application asks your computing service contractor to give you a proof of program in your new brillant and with 6 zero contract, it will be a little bit disappointed ... in this case if you are the contractor check for OCAML ;-)

    microbenchmarks 06/21/04 06:47:50 AM EDT

    Doug Bagley''s original Great Computer Language Shootout was a neat idea: a collection of little benchmarks written in several dozen languages for the purposes of comparing speed, memory usage, and lines of code. He used to say that his favorites of all the languages were those in the ML family, and in particular Ocaml.

    Robert McGovern 06/20/04 04:33:36 PM EDT

    comp.lang.c++.moderated list at Google Groups. At least be accurate and say on the newsgroup comp.lang.c++.moderated, rather than push the notion that the group is only available via Google groups.

    @ThingsExpo Stories
    IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
    WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
    Unsecured IoT devices were used to launch crippling DDOS attacks in October 2016, targeting services such as Twitter, Spotify, and GitHub. Subsequent testimony to Congress about potential attacks on office buildings, schools, and hospitals raised the possibility for the IoT to harm and even kill people. What should be done? Does the government need to intervene? This panel at @ThingExpo New York brings together leading IoT and security experts to discuss this very serious topic.
    In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
    20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
    Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
    An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, discussed recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model for ...
    DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
    More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
    With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
    "We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2017 New York The 7th Internet of @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Chris Matthieu is the co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, a revolutionary real-time IoT platform recently acquired by Citrix. Octoblu connects things, systems, people and clouds to a global mesh network allowing users to automate and control design flo...
    In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
    Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
    According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
    The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
    In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
    The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
    What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
    "Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.