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Java Native Access
The complexity of JNI has given rise to some community-driven libraries that make it simpler to do FFI in Java. Java Native Access (JNA) is one of them. It's built on top of JNI and at least makes FFI easier to use, especially as it removes the need to write any C binding code manually and reduces the chances of memory safety issues. Still, it has some of the disadvantages of being JNI-based and is slightly slower than JNI in many cases. However, JNA is widely used and battle-tested, so definitely a better option than using JNI directly.
Java Abstracted Foreign Function Layer
Another popular option is Java Native Runtime (JNR). Though not as widely used or mature as JNA, it's much more modern and has better performance than JNA for most use cases. However, there are some cases where JNA might perform better.
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Let's run some Java Microbenchmark Harness (JMH) benchmarks to compare the performance of JNI and Panama API. We will use the getpid function from the standard C unistd header for the comparison. We will call the API using JNI and Panama APIs and compare the performance. I'm running the benchmark on Linux with OpenJDK 19 early access build for Panama (openjdk 19-panama 2022-09-20).
The missing bridge between Java and native C++
Here is the code for JNI, which uses the prebuilt JavaCPP library to call the getpid function. We don't have to write all the manual C binding code and rituals as the JavaCPP library already does it.
Benchmarks for Java JNI vs Project Panama on Linux with JDK 17
If you would like to run the benchmarks yourself, follow the instructions in the readme file on the source repository
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