Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: Kevin Benedict, Liz McMillan, Sematext Blog, Pat Romanski, Tim Hinds

Related Topics: Java, AJAX & REA

Java: Article

The Cost of an Exception

A closer look at the costs of throwing exceptions

Recently there was a bigger discussion at dynaTrace around the cost of exceptions. When working with customers we very often find a lot of exceptions they are not aware of. After removing these exceptions, the code runs significantly faster than before. This creates the assumption that using exceptions in your code comes with a significant performance overhead. The implication would be that you better avoid using exceptions. As exceptions are an important construct for handling error situation, avoiding exceptions completely does not seem to be good solution. All in all this was reason enough to have a closer look at the costs of throwing exceptions.

The Experiment
I based my experiment on a simple piece of code that randomly throws an exception. This is not a really scientifically-profound measurement and we also don’t know what the HotSpot compiler does with the code as it runs. Nevertheless it should provide us with some basic insights.

public class ExceptionTest {

public long maxLevel = 20;

public static void main (String ... args){

ExceptionTest test = new ExceptionTest();

long start = System.currentTimeMillis();
int count = 10000;
for (int i= 0; i < count; i++){
try {
test.doTest(2, 0);
}catch (Exception ex){
//        ex.getStackTrace();
}
}
long diff = System.currentTimeMillis() - start;
System.out.println(String.format("Average time for invocation: %1$.5f",((double) diff)/count));
}

public void doTest (int i, int level){
if (level < maxLevel){
try {
doTest (i, ++level);
}
catch (Exception ex){
//        ex.getStackTrace();
throw new RuntimeException ("UUUPS", ex);
}
}
else {
if (i > 1) {
throw new RuntimeException("Ups".substring(0, 3));
}
}
}
}

The Result
The result was very interesting. The cost of throwing and catching an exception seems to be rather low. In my sample it was about 0.002ms per Exception. This can more or less be neglected unless you really throw too many exceptions – and too many means we are talking about 100.000 or more.

While these results show that exception handling itself is not affecting code performance, it leaves open the question: what is responsible for the huge performance impact of exceptions? So obviously I was missing something – something important.

After thinking about it again, I realized that I was missing an important part of exception handling. I missed out the part on what you do when exceptions occur. In most cases you – hopefully – do not just catch the exception and that’s it. Normally you try to compensate for the problem and keep the application functioning for your end users. So the point I was missing was the compensation code that is executed for handling an exception. Depending on what this code is doing the performance penalty can become quite significant. In some cases this might mean retrying to connect to a server in other cases it might mean using a default fallback solution that is providing a far less-performing solution.

While this seemed to be a good explanation for the behavior we saw in many scenarios, I thought I am not done yet with the analysis. I had the feeling that there is something else that I was missing here.

Stack Traces
Still curious about this problem I looked into how the situation changes when I collect stack traces. This is what very often happens. You log an exception and its stack trace to try to figure out what the problem is.

I therefore modified my code to now get the stack trace of an exception as well. This changed the situation dramatically. Getting the stack trace of an exception had a 10x higher impact on the performance than just catching and throwing them. So while stack traces help to understand where and possibly also why a problem occurred, they come with a performance penalty.

The impact here is often very high as we are not talking about a single stack trace. In most cases exceptions are thrown – and caught – at multiple levels. Let us look at a simple example of a Web Service client connecting to a server. First there is an exception at the Java library level for the failed connection. Then there is a framework exception for the failed client and then there might be an application-level exception that some business logic invocation failed. This now sums up to three stack traces being collected.

In most cases you should see them in your log files or application output. Writing these potentially long stack traces again comes with some performance impact. At least you normally see and you can react to them if you look at your log files regularly – which is something you do, don’t you? ;-)

In some cases I have seen even worse behavior due to some incorrect logging code. Instead of checking whether a certain log level is enabled by calling log.isxxEnabled () first, developers just call logging methods. When this happens, logging code is always executed including getting stack traces of exceptions. As the log level however is set too low they never show up anywhere you might not even be aware of them. Checking for log levels first should be a general rule as it also avoids unnecessary object creation.

Conclusion
Not using exceptions because of their potential performance impact is a bad idea. Exceptions help to provide a uniform way to cope with runtime problems and they help to write clean code. You however need to trace the number of exceptions that are thrown in your code. Although they might be caught they can still have a significant performance impact. In dynaTrace we, by default, track thrown exceptions – and in many cases people are surprised by what is going on in their code and what the performance impact is in resolving them.

While exception usage is good you should avoid capturing too many stack traces. In many cases they are not even necessary to understand the problem – especially if they cover a problem you already expect. The exception message therefore might prove as being enough information. I get enough out of a Connection refused message so I do not need the full stack trace into the internal of the java.net call stack.

Related reading:

  1. Application Performance Monitoring in production – A Step-by-Step Guide – Part 1 // Setting up Application Performance Monitoring is a big task,...
  2. The impact of Garbage Collection on Java performance // In my last post I explained what a major...
  3. Top 10 Performance Problems taken from Zappos, Monster, Thomson and Co For a recent edition of the Swiss Computerworld Magazine we...
  4. Top 10 Client-Side Performance Problems in Web 2.0 Inspired by the Top 10 Performance Problems post which focuses...
  5. Real Life Ajax Troubleshooting Guide One of our clients occasionally runs into the following problem...

 

More Stories By Alois Reitbauer

Alois Reitbauer works as a Technology Strategist for dynaTrace Software where he is leading the Methods and Technology team. As part of the R&D team he influences the dynaTrace product strategy and works closely with key customers in implementing performance management solution for the entire lifecylce. Alois has 10 years experience as architect and developer in the Java and .NET space. He is a frequent speaker at technology conferences on performance and architecture related topics and regularly publishes articles blogs on blog.dynatrace.com

@ThingsExpo Stories
We heard for many years how developing nations would be able to develop mobile-phone networks quickly, perhaps even leapfrog developed nations, because their lack of traditional, wired networks would not inhibit them from deploying the new technology. Now there is talk of history repeating itself with the Industrial Internet--a key aspect of the emerging Internet of Things. For example, Guo Ping, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Chinese electronics giant Huawei, said in a recent report from the World Economic Forum, "The Industrial Internet will afford emerging markets a unique opportunity ...
Avnet, Inc. has announced that it ranked No. 4 on the InformationWeek Elite 100 – a list of the top business technology innovators in the U.S. Avnet was recognized for the development of an innovative cloud-based training system that serves as the foundation for Avnet Academy – the company’s education and training organization focused on technical training around top IT vendor technologies. The development of this system allowed Avnet to quickly expand its IT-related training capabilities around the world, while creating a new service that Avnet and its IT solution providers can offer to their...
Ayla Networks, whose agile Internet of Things (IoT) platform makes it easy for manufacturers to deliver secure, connected products, today announced it has been included in the list of "Cool Vendors" in the Internet of Things report by Gartner, Inc. “Gartner knows how important it is that manufacturers of all kinds of products have the right IoT solution to help turn their products into connected ‘things,’” said David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks. “The market for Ayla’s IoT platform has accelerated dramatically this year compared to last year. Today’s largest manufacturers ar...
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud, a provider of enterprise resource planning software, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. B2cloud develops the software you need. They have the ideal tools to help you work with your clients. B2Cloud’s main solutions include AGIS – ERP, CLOHC, AGIS – Invoice, and IZUM
The Internet of Things Maturity Model (IoTMM) is a qualitative method to gauge the growth and increasing impact of IoT capabilities in an IT environment from both a business and technology perspective. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan will first scan the IoT landscape and investigate the major challenges and barriers. The key areas of consideration are identified to get started with IoT journey. He will then pinpoint the need of a tool for effective IoT adoption and implementation, which leads to IoTMM in which five maturity levels are defined: Advanced, Dynamic, Optimized, Primitive,...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY., and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides private all-in-one social intranets allowing workers to securely collaborate from anywhere in the world and from any device. Social, mobile, and easy to use. MangoApps has been named a "Market Leader" by Ovum Research and a "Cool Vendor" by Gartner...
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on Twitter at @MicroservicesE
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
There is no doubt that Big Data is here and getting bigger every day. Building a Big Data infrastructure today is no easy task. There are an enormous number of choices for database engines and technologies. To make things even more challenging, requirements are getting more sophisticated, and the standard paradigm of supporting historical analytics queries is often just one facet of what is needed. As Big Data growth continues, organizations are demanding real-time access to data, allowing immediate and actionable interpretation of events as they happen. Another aspect concerns how to deliver ...
So I guess we’ve officially entered a new era of lean and mean. I say this with the announcement of Ubuntu Snappy Core, “designed for lightweight cloud container hosts running Docker and for smart devices,” according to Canonical. “Snappy Ubuntu Core is the smallest Ubuntu available, designed for security and efficiency in devices or on the cloud.” This first version of Snappy Ubuntu Core features secure app containment and Docker 1.6 (1.5 in main release), is available on public clouds, and for ARM and x86 devices on several IoT boards. It’s a Trend! This announcement comes just as...
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
The WebRTC Summit 2015 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is 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 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark and Intel Edison. You will also get an overview of cloud technologies s...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
In his session at WebRTC Summit, Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, will look at creating interactive communications via the web by adding messaging, file transfer, and group communication (group chat and audio/video conferencing) into the web experience. He will also discuss potential applications of this technology in areas including B2B, B2C, P2P, and gaming. Peter Dunkley is Technical Director at Acision. He graduated from The University of Edinburgh in 2000 with a BSc (Hons) in Computer Science. After graduation Peter worked on a PSTN switch developing signalling stacks for SS...
It's time to put the "Thing" back in IoT. Whether it’s drones, robots, self-driving cars, ... There are multiple incredible examples of the power of IoT nowadays that are shadowed by announcements of yet another twist on statistics, databases, .... Sorry, I meant, Big Data(TM), tiered storage(TM), complex systems(TM), smart nations(TM), .... In his session at WebRTC Summit, Dr Alex Gouaillard, CTO and Co-Founder of Temasys, will discuss the concrete, cool, examples of IoT already happening today, and how mixing all those different sources of visual and audio input can make your life happier ...
What exactly is a cognitive application? In her session at 16th Cloud Expo, Ashley Hathaway, Product Manager at IBM Watson, will look at the services being offered by the IBM Watson Developer Cloud and what that means for developers and Big Data. She'll explore how IBM Watson and its partnerships will continue to grow and help define what it means to be a cognitive service, as well as take a look at the offerings on Bluemix. She will also check out how Watson and the Alchemy API team up to offer disruptive APIs to developers.