Java Concurrency: Volatile

Java Concurrency: Volatile

In this article, we’ll cover Volatile and when we need to use it in multithreading programming.

The Java volatile keyword is used to mark a Java variable as "being stored in main memory". That means, that every read of a volatile variable will be read from the computer's main memory (RAM), and not from the CPU cache and that each writes to a volatile variable will be written to the RAM, and not just to the CPU cache.

Since Java 5 the volatile keyword guarantees more than just that volatile variables are written to and read from main memory.

Variable Visibility Problems

The Java volatile keyword guarantees visibility of changes to variables across threads.

In a multithreaded application where the threads operate on non-volatile variables, each thread may copy variables from RAM memory into a CPU cache while working on them, for performance reasons. If your computer contains more than one CPU, each thread may run on a different CPU. That means, that each thread may copy the variables into the CPU cache of different CPUs.

Here is a simple visualization:

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