Erlang’s binaries are of two main types: ProcBins and Refc binaries 8. Binaries up to 64 bytes are allocated directly on the process’s heap, and their entire life cycle is spent in there. Binaries bigger than that get allocated in a global heap for binaries only, and each process to use one holds a local reference to it in its local heap. These binaries are referencecounted, and the deallocation will occur only once all references are garbage-collected from
all processes that pointed to a specific binary.
In 99% of the cases, this mechanism works entirely fine. In some cases, however, the process will either:
1. do too little work to warrant allocations and garbage collection;
2. eventually grow a large stack or heap with various data structures, collect them, then get to work with a lot of refc binaries. Filling the heap again with binaries (even though a virtual heap is used to account for the refc binaries’ real size) may take a lot of time, giving long delays between garbage collections.