JVM is a monster – in a good way. Its architecture and especially the super-optimized just-in-time-compiler (JIT) help Java byte-code apps to run at a performance that makes startups rewrite their entire software when they grow up. But this amazing piece of engineering doesn’t come without a price. Even small JVM applications are known to eat up a lot of memory and the start-up times of non-trivial JVM apps are – well – iconic.
GraalVM is a newish JDK distribution coming from Oracle Labs. It uses partly the same codebase as the regular OpenJDK, a variant of which you most likely use on a daily basis, but focuses on performance and polyglot support. For JVM performance, GraalVM replaces the JIT compiler in the HotSpotJava Virtual Machine with a custom version that, especially in the enterprise edition, is expected to give significantly better performance (34%, according to their own benchmarks), including some memory savings.