Memory exhaustion, long garbage collection time and the Hibernate query plan cache

Recently, we released a new Spring Boot webservice. It uses Hibernate for database queries and persistence. (Spring Boot 2.1.10 and Hibernate 5.3.13). Within a week of release, Dynatrace alerted us to memory exhaustion and long garbage collection time on all the deployments. The app was started with the -XX:+HeapDumpOnOutOfMemoryError command line option so heap dumps were generated automatically. While the heap dumps were analysed for root cause of the memory problem, the apps were restarted with double the memory limits to keep things running.

I loaded the heap dump with Eclipse memory analyzer and its Leak Suspects Report. The tool identified one problem suspect, which used 321.5MB out of 360MB of heap memory.

One instance of “org.hibernate.internal.SessionFactoryImpl” loaded by “org.springframework.boot.loader.LaunchedURLClassLoader @ 0xe0035958” occupies 337,113,320 (89.29%) bytes. The memory is accumulated in one instance of “org.hibernate.internal.util.collections.BoundedConcurrentHashMap$Segment[]” loaded by “org.springframework.boot.loader.LaunchedURLClassLoader @ 0xe0035958”.

When I looked at the ‘Accumulated Objects in the Dominator Tree’, I noticed there were a large number of Bounded Concurrent Hash Map entries. Clicked on an individual hash map entry and use the list objects with incoming reference option, I could see that the segments of the hash map are query plan cache objects.

To look at what is stored inside the query plan cache, I used the OQL function in the memory analyzer with the follow query.

SELECT l.query.toString() 
org.hibernate.engine.query.spi.QueryPlanCache$HQLQueryPlanKey l

By inpsecting the strings returned by the query, I spotted the problem. The hibernate query cache plan cached a lot of identical queries with the numeric primary key parameter in the where clause. Like this

generatedAlias0.numberDetails as generatedAlias59 left join fetch
generatedAlias59.ddiRange6 as generatedAlias60 where

Reading the hibernate documentation, I learned that by default Criteria queries use bind parameters for literals that are not numeric only. My application used only the numeric primary key for access. Hibernate was therefore caching a new plan for every individual row in the database. As a result, the application was performing worse than not having a query cache plan at all!

To fix this, set the parameter hibernate.criteria.literal_handling_mode to BIND. This instructs hibernate to use bind variables for any literal value. In Spring Boot, the variable is

To confirm that the query cache plan problem was fixed, I used jconsole to take a heap dump

Running the OQL query again and I can see the query plans have changed to using bind parameters in the where clause.

generatedAlias0.numberDetails as generatedAlias59 left join fetch
generatedAlias59.ddiRange6 as generatedAlias60 where