Java 16 Launched: New Features & Updates

March 25, 2021

Recently, Oracle announced the Java update 16 and 17 with new enhancements, features, and benefits including memory management, powerful toolkit, drastic improvements, preview features, and more. Java is one of the most powerful programming languages and the development environment choice of most developers across the globe. This language is sufficient for driving innovation, shortening development timeframes, and improving the performance of applications.

There are 17 updates with the latest features in the development kit of Java (JDK16). Let us have a look at these updates and the features of these updates.

Warnings For Value-Based Classes

This update designates the wrapper classes as value-based entities and deprecates their constructors for prompting and removing new deprecating warnings. These warnings are related to the improper attempts to synchronize the instances of any value-based classes. The Valhalla Project is fueling this effort and this is driving a significant enhancement to the Java programming model in the form of old classes. These primitive classes declare the instances to be free of identity and capable of inline representations. The implementation and design of the primitive classes are mature enough to migrate certain classes of the Java platforms in the future.

Sealed Classes

Sealed classes were once previewed in JDK 15 and are back in JDK 16. These classes and interfaces restrict the other classes and interfaces which may implement them. The main goals are to allow the author of an interface to control and manage the code that is responsible for implementing it. Apart from that, the interface may provide a way to access the modifiers. This is done to limit the use of an upper-class by providing a strong foundation for the analysis of the patterns.

Encapsulation Of The JDK

The JDK internals are encapsulated except for the sensitive API such as misc. Unsafe. Developers can incorporate the default encapsulation which is quite strong. The main features of this update are to improve the integrity and security of the JDK and assist the developers to migrate from the internal elements by using standard APIs. This helps the developers and end-users to easily update to the future releases of Java. This encapsulation carries a primary risk that restricts the Java code from functioning well. The developers are encouraged to use the ‘jdeps’ tool that identifies the code depending on the internal elements of the development kit.

Foreign Linker APIs

The foreign linker APIs offer pure-Java access to the native code. These APIs are in an incubator stage in the development kit 16. Together with the proposed foreign-memory access API, this foreign linker API simplifies the tedious process of binding to a native library. The main goal of this plan is to replace the JNI with a superior and advanced pure-Java development model. This new model is supposed to support C and is flexible enough to support other platforms including 32-bit x86 and a few other foreign functions that are written in other languages such as C++.

Moving ZGC

This update is all about moving the Z Garbage Collector thread-stack processing from the savepoints to a more stable concurrent phase. The main goal of this update include

  • Removal of thread-stack processing from ZGC savepoints
  • Making the stack processing cooperative
  • Removing all the per-thread root processing from ZGC savepoints
  • Providing a mechanism for HotSpot VM Subsystems

The Z Garbage Collector is intended to eliminate the scalability issues in HotSpot. With this update, the cost of the improved latency is significantly lesser and the time spent inside the Z Garbage Collector safepoints on the typical machines is less than one millisecond.

Elastic metaspace Capability

The elastic metaspace capability returns the unused HotSpot VM class metadata memory to the operating system and reduces the footprint. Apart from this, it also simplifies the metaspace code to reduce operational costs. This update reduces the existing memory allocator with a buddy-based allocation system. This system provides an algorithm to effectively divide the metaspace memory into partitions to satisfy the memory requests. This approach has been used in different places such as the Linux kernel and makes it practically possible to allocate memory in the form of small fragments to reduce the class-loader overheads. In addition to this, developers can easily allocate memory from the operating system to reduce the footprints for the loaders that start with large areas. To completely utilize the elasticity offered by the buddy allocation, the metaspace memory is arranged uniformly in independent fragments.

Using C++14 Language Features

C++ 14 features are used in the JDK 16 to allow the use of capabilities in the source code and give specific guidance about which of these features may be used in the HotSpot VM code. This feature does not emphasize any of the changes for the C++ code that is used outside of the HotSpot. Depending on the type of platform compiler, some build-time changes might be required.

Vector API In The Incubator Stage

A vector API in an incubator stage is fitted in an incubator module (JDK.incubator.vector) to express the vector computations. These vector computations compile optimal vector hardware instructions on supported CPU architectures. Using the pre-existing support in the HotSpot VM, this vector API offers a mechanism to define complex vector algorithms in Java. The main goals of this update is to provide a clear API that could express a range of several vector computations and a reliable runtime computation on x64 and AArch64 architectures.

Apart from that, graceful degradation is another goal of this update. In such a case, a vector computation would degrade gracefully and still function if it cannot be fully expressed as a runtime sequence of hardware vector instructions because the architecture does not support a few instructions.

Porting the Java Development Kit To AArch64 Platform

With the inception of new consumer and server-class (AMR64) hardware, AArch64 has become an important and popular platform because of the rise in demand. The main goal of this update is to involve the integration of this port into the mainline of the Java Development Kit repository.

Porting The Java Development Kit To The Alpine Linux

According to this update, the JDK is ported to Alpine Linux and other distributors. Alpine Linux is widely adopted in cloud deployment because of its small size. A user or a developer can easily create a small customized image for a particular application using the ‘jlink’ to reduce the size of the Java runtime.

Provision Of Record Classes

This update provides record classes. These classes are transparent and carry static data. These records can be considered symbolic tuples. One of the highly anticipated features of the JDK 16 release is the ability to reduce the ceremony of Java by cutting down the boilerplate code. The main features of this update are to

  • Devise an object-oriented construct that acts as an aggregation of values
  • Help the developers to focus on modeling the unchangeable data
  • Automatically implement the data-driven methods
  • Preserve the migration compatibility and nominal typing

Unix Domain Socket Channels

The addition of Unix-domain socket channels is supported to the socket channel and server socket channel APIs in the ‘nio.channels’ package. This update also extends the inherited channel mechanism to support the server socket and Unix-domain channels. The Unix-domain sockets are similar to the TCP/IP shell accounts except that they are addressed by the ‘filesystem’ pathnames. The main goal of this update is to support all the features of the Unix-domain socket channels that are common across all the major Unix and Windows platforms.

Foreign Memory Access API

The Foreign-memory access APIs allow the Java programs to safely access the foreign memory outside the Java heap. The new update brings tons of changes and separates the roles of MemorySegment and MemoryAddresses interfaces. The main goals of this update is to offer a single API that can operate on multiple foreign memory entities such as persistence, native, and managed heap memory. Java API does not offer a satisfactory solution for accessing foreign memory.

Pattern Matching

Pattern matching is an old feature that was introduced in both JDK 14 and 16. This update says that the pattern matching feature would get finalized in JDK 16. This feature allows common logic in a program where the developers can extract the components from objects based on certain conditions.

Jpackage Tool For Self-Contained Java Apps

This update provides the package tool for packaging the self-contained Java apps. In the JDK 16 update, the package has evolved and offers the production of native package formats to give the users a natural installation experience and specify the launch time parameters. These different formats range from

  • msi and exe on Windows
  • rpm and deb on Linux
  • dmg and pkg on MacOS

This new packaging tool can address a situation wherein multiple Java apps need to be installed on the native platforms.

Migrating the OpenJDK Source Code

Migrating the Open JDK source code repositories from Mercurial to Git comes with several advantages. These are a few advantages of this update:

  • Version control system
  • Toolkit
  • Hosting
  • Metadata size

Migrating JDK16 Source Code On Popular Code Sharing Site

Migrating the source code to GitHub and other popular code-sharing websites such as Mercurial to Git is possible with the latest JDK 16 update. JDK feature releases would be part of this update. Migration from Mercurial to Git, Skara, and GitHub is now possible and open to contributions.


Java remains among the most successful and powerful development platforms ever as it helps the developers to address the continuously evolving requirements. This latest update JDK16 has brought several features and updates to manage the development and streamline the activities that were absent in the previous versions of Java. Most of these features can help the developers to reduce resource consumption and improve the performance of the applications. Organizations are now shifting their focus to Java as this update is simplifying several development activities and is making the entire application cycle easy to manage and optimize.

As the data is getting more important, enterprises and large organizations are switching to Java services for security, memory management, load balancing, and much more. We as an IT firm, have been providing Java services to our clients across the globe. Contact us and discuss your Java requirements. Our team of Java experts carries years of experience in developing applications and delivering business solutions to our clients across the globe. Hire Java developers to get the most of your business. Our solutions are backed by years of technical experience and project management all under one roof.


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