Friday, April 25, 2014

Impress your colleagues with your knowledge about... the gcServer config option

Sometimes when working with .NET you discover some hidden gems. Some of them very useful, other ones a little bit harder to find a good way to benefit from their functionality. One of those hidden gems that I discovered some days ago is the gcServer config option.

What I didn’t know is that there are actually two kinds of Garbage Collectors available in .NET, the Workstation GC and the Server GC.

From the MSDN site:

The garbage collector is self-tuning and can work in a wide variety of scenarios. You can use a configuration file setting to set the type of garbage collection based on the characteristics of the workload. The CLR provides the following types of garbage collection:

  • Workstation garbage collection, which is for all client workstations and stand-alone PCs. This is the default setting for the <gcServer> element in the runtime configuration schema.

    Workstation garbage collection can be concurrent or non-concurrent. Concurrent garbage collection enables managed threads to continue operations during a garbage collection.

    Starting with the .NET Framework 4, background garbage collection replaces concurrent garbage collection.

  • Server garbage collection, which is intended for server applications that need high throughput and scalability. Server garbage collection can be non-concurrent or background.

You can use the <gcServer> element of the runtime configuration schema to specify the type of garbage collection you want the CLR to perform. When this element's enabled attribute is set to false (the default), the CLR performs workstation garbage collection. When you set the enabled attribute to true, the CLR performs server garbage collection.

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