Last week, we had the author of TDD for a Shopping Website LiveProject. Friday at 11am Ranch time, Steven Solomon will be hosting a live TDD session just for us. See for the agenda and registration link
1) All threads, including GC threads, are native OS threads. At least for the Sun JVM, and I suspect for other JVMs as well.
2) I do not think so.
3) Use this option: -XX:ParallelGCThreads=N where N is the desired number of threads. Starting with JVM 5, if your system has at least 2 CPUs (or cores) and at least 2GB of RAM, then the JVM will automatically run a parallel collector for the young generation. It will assign 1 thread for each CPU up to 8, then 5 threads for every 8 CPUs after that. I suggest that you never run more GC threads than you have CPUs otherwise the collection will run slower due to the context switching among threads.