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CI/CD, Github Actions, and GraalVM Native Image

GraalVM is a promising polyglot runtime for Java, JavaScript, Python, Ruby and WASM.
It can produce native images. Unsurprisingly with great powers come ... lots of things to learn.

GraalVM Native Image Benefits

A native image has a number of benefits over an JVM based application, mainly owed to the extensive analysis done at build time.
Some of advantages mentioned:

  • Runtime speed ~ 25% above the same code running on an JVM
  • Ahead of Time compilation can lead to up to 9 times less memory consumption than running on an JVM
  • Code executes faster with a smaller memory footprint than comparable Go applications ( but still is bigger/slower than C by a whisk)
  • Warmup time got moved to build time, improving startup time

Building the image

Build has been greatly improved with tooling available:

  • a Maven plugin (also available for Gradle), eliminating the need of extensive commandline foo.
  • a GitHub action to install the GraalVM tooing in a pipeline
  • reduced memory consumption, so most apps will fit into the GitHub build container limit of 7GB memory
  • option for a non-optimized fast build, useful for testing correctness

Thoughts and conclusions

A big step in the right direction making native images more accessible. There's still room for improvements, like caching the build images and more samples. What Oracle solved nicely: If you are a GraalVM Enterprise customer, accessing GraalVM Enterprise edition is done using an access token, fully compatible to any build system. No messing around with downloads and manual installations required.

Posted by on 18 October 2022 | Comments (0) | categories: Java


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