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JDK 13: What AggressiveOpts?

The Java VM flag -XX:+AggressiveOpts was deprecated in JDK 11 [see JDK-8199777 and JDK-8199778] “because its behavior is ill-defined.” The “Problem” section of JDK-8199778 further explains (I added the emphasis):

AggressiveOpts has been used as a catch-all method of enabling various experimental performance features, mostly targeted to improve score on very specific benchmarks. Most things it affected has been removed or integrated over time, leaving the behavior of the flag ill-defined and prone to cause more issues than it’ll solve. The only effect that the flag currently has is setting AutoBoxCacheMax = 20000 and BiasedLockingStartupDelay = 500. Both can be done manually by setting the corresponding flags on the command line.

According to the document “Java HotSpot VM Options,” the -XX:+AggressiveOpts flag was added with J2SE 5 Update 6 to “turn on point performance compiler optimizations that are expected to be default in upcoming releases.”

The article “Java’s -XX:+AggressiveOpts: Can it slow you down?” examines the -XX:+AggressiveOpts VM flag in detail and looks at some benchmark comparisons. The article concludes, “By retaining legacy flags you make it less likely to get the benefits of newer, faster features in released JVMs.”

A much older Kirk Pepperdine article “Poorly chosen Java HotSpot Garbage Collection Flags and how to fix them!” specifically calls out -XX:+AggressiveOpts as an example of a VM flag whose behavior is unknown. Pepperdine writes that recommendations for use of this flag have not changed since Java SE 5.

When the -XX:+AggressiveOpts flag is passed to the JDK 11 Java launcher, a warning is presented: “VM warning: Option AggressiveOpts was deprecated in version 11.0 and will likely be removed in a future release.”


In JDK 12, -XX:+AggressiveOpts has been removed as advertised (JDK-8150552) and a warning was presented to anyone trying to use it in conjunction with the Java launcher. The next screen snapshot displays this warning message that states, “VM warning: Ignoring option AggressiveOpts; support was removed in 12.0” (from JDK 12 Early Access Build #29 [2019/1/24]).


In JDK 13 Early Access builds, the VM won’t start if -XX:+AggressiveOpts is specified. This is shown in the next screen snapshot (JDK 13 Early Access Build #5 [2019/1/24]).


As the previous image shows, the VM fails to start in JDK 13 when the -XX:+AggressiveOpts flag is specified and it reports the error message, “Unrecognized VM option ‘AggressiveOpts’.”

The -XX:+AggressiveOpts flag was deprecated in JDK 11, is removed but only shows a warning when specified in JDK 12, and is removed and prevents the VM from starting when specified in JDK 13.

Published on Java Code Geeks with permission by Dustin Marx, partner at our JCG program. See the original article here: JDK 13: What AggressiveOpts?

Opinions expressed by Java Code Geeks contributors are their own.

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