# Thursday, July 10, 2003
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Benchmarks, strictfp and other floating point stuff

Mark Wielaard did some benchmarks of some of the free JVMs available.

I noted on the Classpath mailing list that the IKVM floating point performance is probably overstated, because IKVM doesn't implement FP correctly. It uses the .NET framework FP instructions and methods and those in turn are implemented using the x86 FP instructions.

The original JVM specification was very strict in specifying floating point operations. Basically, it mapped 100% onto the Sparc floating point model and this caused spec compliant FP code to be slow on Intel. I don't think any of the early VMs correctly implemented the spec so this wasn't really a problem. I don't know why early the VM implementers didn't implement the spec, maybe they felt the performance cost was too high or maybe they just didn't find it an interesting issue (the "problem" is that the Intel FP results are actually too accurate).

In JDK 1.2 Sun introduced the strictfp keyword and corresponding JVM method and class access flag. Interestingly, they loosened the default FP requirements and specified the original FP behavior for methods (or classes) marked with the strictfp keyword.

IKVM doesn't implement strictfp at the moment, but this isn't the whole story. For trigonometric* functions (e.g. Math.sin()) IKVM uses the equivalent .NET Math functions and those are (probably) implemented using the x86 FP instructions and these are not compliant with the JVM specification and I think that in this case the Intel instructions are not more accurate than required, but actually less accurate. So this is a real problem that should be fixed at some point in the future.

*This probably also applies to other Math functions, like Math.exp, Math.log, Math.sqrt, etc.

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