The case of the mysterious JVM x64 crashes

To date, I did all my Java development uding 32 bit JVMs. After all, as long as you do not have extreme memory requirements, the 64 bit JVM should not buy you much. Today I installed the Java 6 Update 6 x64 JDK on my Vista x64 machine and tried to run some of my JUnit tests on this VM.

With little success:

# An unexpected error has been detected by Java Runtime Environment:
#  EXCEPTION_ACCESS_VIOLATION (0xc0000005) at pc=0x00000000772b219b, pid=4188, tid=2272
# Java VM: Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (10.0-b22 mixed mode windows-amd64)
# Problematic frame:
# C  [ntdll.dll+0x5219b]
# If you would like to submit a bug report, please visit:

The project uses a native library via JNI, so of course I immediately suspected this to be the problem. So I placed a Java breakpoint on the respective System.loadLibrary call with the intent of attaching WinDBG as soon as this breakpoint is hit. In WinDBG, I could then break on the exception and see what the problem is.

But to my surprise, the Java breakpoint was not hit — the VM crashed immediately and I received the same output about an unexpected error having occured. That seemed strange to me — maybe it was not the fault of the JNI library after all? So I created a simple Hello World application and ran it — that worked. Then I created this innocent JUnit test:

public class JTest
  public void testname() throws Exception

This one failed again, yielding the same error message as above. Well, at least that gave me evidence that not my JNI library but the JVM was the culprit of the crash — but still, the situation seemed weird. Running the test again under WinDBG, I could see that the AV occured during a heap free operation (As a side node, it is annoying that Sun does not supply symbols for its binaries):

00000000`0404ca88 00000000`7727e7e2 ntdll!RtlCaptureContext+0x8c
00000000`0404ca98 00000000`7727e72b ntdll!RtlpWalkFrameChain+0x52
00000000`0404d018 00000000`773352f2 ntdll!RtlCaptureStackBackTrace+0x4b
00000000`0404d048 00000000`772e1d35 ntdll!RtlpStackTraceDatabaseLogPrefix+0x42
00000000`0404d178 00000000`7715d9fa ntdll! ?? ::FNODOBFM::`string'+0xa93f
00000000`0404d1f8 000007fe`fef0175c kernel32!HeapFree+0xa
*** WARNING: Unable to verify checksum for C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.6.0_06\jre\bin\server\jvm.dll
*** ERROR: Symbol file could not be found.  Defaulted to export symbols for C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.6.0_06\jre\bin\server\jvm.dll - 
00000000`0404d228 00000000`08101c09 msvcrt!free+0x1c
00000000`0404d258 00000000`081026cc jvm!JVM_EnqueueOperation+0x8c139
00000000`0404d288 00000000`040b4937 jvm!JVM_EnqueueOperation+0x8cbfc
00000000`0404d318 00000000`0404d338 0x40b4937

Well, could be a heap corruption — but it is interesting that crash did not occur during block coalescence or similar operations but during stack trace capturing. As a matter of fact, I always run my machine with user mode stack trace database creation enabled for debugging purposes. So I disabled the stack trace database in gflags, rebooted the machine and — voilà, the crash disappeared!

Wow. I think this is worth being filed as a bug.


5 Responses to “The case of the mysterious JVM x64 crashes”

  1. 1 Eric May 14, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    For what it is worth, I am seeing the same thing with our application on x64. I am using the 32-bit jvm however, but my guess is that it is a heap corruption of some sort or another. I suspect that not many people in our company are using Win64 yet, which explains why I am probably the first to see it.

    I am assuming that our company has Enterprise Support, so if we can, I would be inclined to see if we can get it reported through channels and see what we can make of this.

  2. 2 Foil June 19, 2008 at 5:28 am

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation :) Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Foil.

  3. 3 Yuhong Bao February 26, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    BTW, here is a clue: The stack trace from this exception seems to be incomplete, which suggests that the developer did not include all the unwind data needed to do a proper stack walk on x64, so I am not suprised this crashed.

  4. 4 Meri Pon December 1, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Thanks a lot for posting this solution! It works for me too!

  1. 1 Buy » The case of the mysterious JVM x64 crashes Trackback on May 11, 2008 at 1:16 pm
Comments are currently closed.


About me

Johannes Passing, M.Sc., living in Berlin, Germany.

Besides his consulting work, Johannes mainly focusses on Win32, COM, and NT kernel mode development, along with Java and .Net. He also is the author of cfix, a C/C++ unit testing framework for Win32 and NT kernel mode, Visual Assert, a Visual Studio Unit Testing-AddIn, and NTrace, a dynamic function boundary tracing toolkit for Windows NT/x86 kernel/user mode code.

Contact Johannes: jpassing (at) acm org

Johannes' GPG fingerprint is BBB1 1769 B82D CD07 D90A 57E8 9FE1 D441 F7A0 1BB1.

LinkedIn Profile
Xing Profile
Github Profile

%d bloggers like this: