Azul introduces LLVM compiler to Java runtime

Azul's Falcon LLVM compiler gives the Zing JVM a big speed edge over Oracle's HotSpot Java platform

Azul Systems looks to up Java performance with the introduction of Falcon, a just-in-time compiler to be featured in the company's Zing Java runtime.

Based on the LLVM compiler platform, designed for server workloads, and optimized for recent Intel and AMD architectures, Falcon bests Oracle's HotSpot Java platform by anywhere from 5 to 250 percent in production performance, depending on the application, according to Azul. It becomes the default compiler in the 17.03 release of Zing, which also features the Zing C4 garbage collector.

Falcon is the first new compiler introduced into a JVM in more than 15 years, Azul CEO Scott Sellers said. About four years ago, the company had began pondering how to take the next step in terms of compiler technology and performance; it concluded LLVM was the most modern and most supported infrastructure.

With Falcon, Azul becomes the first to use LLVM in a production Java runtime. The company has enhanced LLVM with such capabilities as the ability to provide JIT code replacement and de-optimization. Sellers sees enterprises with applications where performance matters as benefiting from Falcon, including large e-commerce and websites, transaction systems, fraud detection and trading platforms, and risk applications in banks.

Azul believes LLVM will offer long-term advantage because its modern compiler infrastructure allows for rapid improvements and optimizations in languages like Swift and Rust.

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