Welcome!

Cognitive Computing Authors: Pat Romanski, Jim Hansen, Carmen Gonzalez, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan

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we published an article about Keith Lea's one-man attempt to take the benchmark code for C++ and Java from the now outdated Great Computer Language Shootout conducted by Doug Bagley in Fall 2001 and run the tests himself.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
    Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
    Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, discussed the impact of technology on identity. Sho...
    China Unicom exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which took place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, in November 2016. China United Network Communications Group Co. Ltd ("China Unicom") was officially established in 2009 on the basis of the merger of former China Netcom and former China Unicom. China Unicom mainly operates a full range of telecommunications services including mobile broadband (GSM, WCDMA, LTE FDD, TD-LTE), fixed-line broadband, ICT, data communica...
    For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that delaPlex will exhibit at SYS-CON's @CloudExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. delaPlex pioneered Software Development as a Service (SDaaS), which provides scalable resources to build, test, and deploy software. It’s a fast and more reliable way to develop a new product or expand your in-house team.
    The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place in November in Silicon Valley, California.
    WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, looked at differ...
    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...
    In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
    The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, discussed the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Technologic Systems Inc., an embedded systems solutions company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Technologic Systems is an embedded systems company with headquarters in Fountain Hills, Arizona. They have been in business for 32 years, helping more than 8,000 OEM customers and building over a hundred COTS products that have never been discontinued. Technologic Systems’ pr...
    In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
    A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
    With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, I provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading the...
    The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
    In his session at @ThingsExpo, Steve Wilkes, CTO and founder of Striim, will delve into four enterprise-scale, business-critical case studies where streaming analytics serves as the key to enabling real-time data integration and right-time insights in hybrid cloud, IoT, and fog computing environments. As part of this discussion, he will also present a demo based on its partnership with Fujitsu, highlighting their technologies in a healthcare IoT use-case. The demo showcases the tracking of patie...
    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.
    Have you ever noticed how some IT people seem to lead successful, rewarding, and satisfying lives and careers, while others struggle? IT author and speaker Don Crawley uncovered the five principles that successful IT people use to build satisfying lives and careers and he shares them in this fast-paced, thought-provoking webinar. You'll learn the importance of striking a balance with technical skills and people skills, challenge your pre-existing ideas about IT customer service, and gain new in...