What is JIT compiler?

The Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler is an integral component of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) that enhances the runtime performance of Java applications. It achieves this optimization by dynamically translating Java bytecode into efficient native machine code during program execution, thereby reducing the overhead of interpretation and improving overall execution speed.

How JIT compiler works

Java programs undergo a compilation process using the Java compiler (javac), which converts the human-readable Java source code (.java files) into platform-independent Java bytecode (.class files). During runtime, the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) loads these bytecode files and employs an interpreter to execute the instructions.

The Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler, a significant feature of the JVM, comes into play when enabled. It dynamically analyzes the bytecode and selectively compiles certain method calls into highly optimized native code. This compilation process prioritizes frequently executed methods, aiming to enhance their performance. Once the JIT compiler completes the optimization, the JVM executes the optimized code instead of interpreting the bytecode.

By employing the JIT compiler, the JVM aims to strike a balance between the overhead of recompilation and the improved efficiency of executing optimized native code. The intention is that the performance gains achieved through the optimized execution of frequently used methods outweigh the cost of recompiling the program each time it runs. This approach allows Java programs to achieve higher performance levels by leveraging runtime optimization techniques.

In practice, the Just-In-Time (JIT) compilation process in the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) doesn't immediately compile methods the first time they are invoked. Instead, the JVM maintains a call count for each method, which is incremented with each method call. The JVM continues to interpret a method's bytecode until its call count surpasses a predefined JIT compilation threshold.

As a result of this approach, frequently used methods are compiled relatively early, shortly after the JVM has started. Conversely, less frequently used methods may be compiled much later or not compiled at all. This dynamic compilation strategy allows the JVM to prioritize the compilation of commonly executed methods, ensuring that performance improvements are focused on code segments that are actually in frequent use.

The purpose of setting a JIT compilation threshold is to strike a balance between the JVM's startup time and the long-term performance of the application. By deferring the compilation of less-used methods, the JVM can start up quickly, while still benefiting from the improved performance achieved through the JIT compilation of frequently accessed code.

The selection of an optimal JIT compilation threshold is a careful consideration. It aims to ensure that the JVM achieves a balance between minimizing start-up times and maximizing overall performance in the long run. By adapting the compilation strategy based on method call frequencies, the JVM optimizes the execution of frequently invoked code, resulting in improved performance for Java applications.

Advantages of Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler

Advancements in compiler technology can indeed have a notable impact on existing programs. In the context of programming languages like Java, where code is compiled and executed at runtime, the introduction of a more efficient Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler can lead to performance improvements for already deployed programs.

While a better "C" compiler may not offer any benefits to programs that have been previously deployed, a more advanced JIT compiler has the potential to enhance the performance of existing Java code. The JIT compiler analyzes the bytecode of Java programs during runtime and dynamically generates optimized native code for execution. With advancements in JIT compilation techniques, newer versions of Java Virtual Machines (JVMs) can generate more efficient native code, resulting in improved execution speed and overall performance.

This means that Java programs written in the past can experience enhanced performance if executed on a JVM with a more advanced JIT compiler. The optimizations performed by the JIT compiler, such as method inlining, loop unrolling, and dynamic deoptimization, can significantly boost the execution speed of the code.

Therefore, advancements in JIT compiler technology have the potential to bring tangible benefits to existing Java programs. The same code that was written years ago can run faster and more efficiently on modern JVMs, leading to an improved user experience and overall program performance.

Native images, in the context of software development, refer to compiled executables that are generated from source code and are directly executable by the underlying hardware or operating system. These native images offer several advantages over interpreted or just-in-time compiled code.

One significant benefit of native images is their faster loading time compared to interpreted code. When executing a native image, there are fewer start-up activities involved since the code is already compiled and ready to be executed. In contrast, interpreted code typically requires additional processing, such as parsing and dynamically generating bytecode, before it can be executed. The absence of these extra steps allows native images to load more quickly, resulting in faster program initialization.

Furthermore, native images typically require a static amount of memory to execute. Since they are pre-compiled to machine code specific to the target architecture, they do not require additional memory for runtime interpretation or dynamic compilation. This can be advantageous in memory-constrained environments or when optimizing resource usage.

The use of native images can lead to improved performance and responsiveness in applications that require quick start-up times or have stringent memory requirements. However, it is important to note that native images are generally platform-specific and may require recompilation for different target environments.

Disadvantages of Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler

The Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler introduces an additional layer of complexity and unpredictability to Java programs, it is important to consider the benefits and trade-offs it brings.

One aspect to consider is the increased level of optimization that JIT compilation provides. The JIT compiler analyzes the program's runtime behavior and dynamically optimizes the code based on actual usage patterns. This can result in improved performance compared to ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation, especially in scenarios where certain code paths are executed more frequently than others. The JIT compiler can adapt and optimize the code specifically for the runtime environment, taking advantage of hardware capabilities and runtime conditions.

However, the presence of the JIT compiler does introduce some memory overhead. In addition to the runtime libraries and compiled code, the JIT compiler itself and an interpreter need to be loaded into memory. This can increase the memory footprint of the application compared to an AOT-compiled program, which is fully compiled before execution. The memory requirements of the JIT compiler depend on factors such as the complexity of the program and the level of optimization performed.

The decision between JIT compilation and AOT compilation depends on the characteristics of the application. Large applications with complex codebases and diverse usage patterns can benefit from the adaptive optimization provided by the JIT compiler. The ability to dynamically optimize the code based on runtime behavior can lead to better performance in such cases. On the other hand, smaller applications with straightforward execution paths may not see significant benefits from JIT compilation and may prefer the simplicity and deterministic nature of AOT compilation.


The presence of the JIT compiler in Java programs introduces complexity and unpredictability, but it also provides the opportunity for runtime optimization and improved performance. The decision to use JIT compilation or AOT compilation depends on the specific characteristics and requirements of the application at hand.