Why my JVM has enabled SerialGC not G1

A lot of developers have been surprised when checking what exactly GC algorithm is enabled on K8S or Docker.

G1 has been announced as the default GC in Java 9. A lot of developers think that G1 is enabled on K8S but sometimes they are wrong. Why?

Ergonomic Mode

JVM has a special function, which is called “Ergonomic Mode”. When JVM considers that our system is not enough to proper working with some settings then silently changes some parameters to work better.
The same situation is with G1. When we don’t have min two cores and 2 GB RAM then JVM changed G1 to SerialGC.

void GCConfig::select_gc_ergonomically() {
  if (os::is_server_class_machine()) {
    FLAG_SET_ERGO_IF_DEFAULT(UseParallelGC, true);
    FLAG_SET_ERGO_IF_DEFAULT(UseSerialGC, true);
  } else {
    FLAG_SET_ERGO_IF_DEFAULT(UseSerialGC, true);
bool os::is_server_class_machine() {
  // First check for the early returns
  if (NeverActAsServerClassMachine) {
    return false;
  if (AlwaysActAsServerClassMachine) {
    return true;
  // Then actually look at the machine
  bool         result            = false;
  const unsigned int    server_processors = 2;
  const julong server_memory     = 2UL * G;
  // We seem not to get our full complement of memory.
  //     We allow some part (1/8?) of the memory to be "missing",
  //     based on the sizes of DIMMs, and maybe graphics cards.
  const julong missing_memory   = 256UL * M;

  /* Is this a server class machine? */
  if ((os::active_processor_count() >= (int)server_processors) &&
      (os::physical_memory() >= (server_memory - missing_memory))) {
    const unsigned int logical_processors =
    if (logical_processors > 1) {
      const unsigned int physical_packages =
        os::active_processor_count() / logical_processors;
      if (physical_packages >= server_processors) {
        result = true;
    } else {
      result = true;
  return result;

Of course, if you explicit set -XX:+UseG1GC then JVM disabled ergonomic mode in this particular case.