Why is Java limited to 1.5MB process size on Win XP?
In general, the reason is
“The reason we need a contiguous memory region for the heap is that we have a bunch of side data structures that are indexed by (scaled) offsets from the start of the heap. For example, we track object reference updates with a "card mark array" that has one byte for each 512 bytes of heap. When we store a reference in the heap we have to mark the corresponding byte in the card mark array. We right shift the destination address of the store and use that to index the card mark array. Fun addressing arithmetic games you can't do in Java that you get to (have to :-) play in C++.