Checkpoint/rollback (CR) mechanisms create snapshots of the state of a running application, allowing it to later be restored to that checkpointed snapshot. Support for checkpoint/rollback enables many program analyses and software engineering techniques, including test generation, fault tolerance, and speculative execution. Fully automatic CR support is built-in to some modern operating systems. However, such systems perform checkpoints at the coarse granularity of whole pages of virtual memory, which imposes relatively high overhead to incrementally capture the changing state of a process, and make it difficult for applications to checkpoint only some logical portions of their state. CR systems implemented at the application level and with a finer granularity typically require complex developer support to identify: (1) where checkpoints can take place, and (2) which program state needs to be copied. A popular compromise is to implement CR support in managed runtime environments, eg the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), but this typically requires specialized, non-standard runtime environments, limiting portability and adoption of this approach.
In this paper, we present a novel approach for Checkpoint ROllbaCk via lightweight HEap Traversal (CROCHET), which enables fully automatic fine-grained lightweight checkpoints within unmodified commodity JVMs (specifically Oracle’s HotSpot and OpenJDK). Leveraging key insights about the internal design common to modern state-of-the-art JVMs, CROCHET works entirely through bytecode rewriting and standard debug APIs, utilizing special proxy objects to perform a lazy heap traversal that starts at the root references and traverses the heap as objects are accessed, copying or restoring state as needed and removing each proxy immediately after it is used. We evaluated CROCHET on the DaCapo benchmark suite, finding it to have very low runtime overhead in steady state (ranging from no overhead to 1.13x slowdown), and that it often outperforms a state-of-the-art system-level checkpoint tool when creating checkpoints.