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Why not tweak the garbage collection algorithm, using Garbage-First:
Re: Memory problems with Oracle sql developer
There are other threads in the forum mentioning Garbage-First, so you may also wish to search for those. Also, try upgrading your Java to the latest Java 6 update: jdk1.6.0_37, or upgrade SQL Developer to the latest 3.2.20 release which makes jdk1.6.0_35 available in the primary 32-bit Windows download.
SQL Developer Team
I installed the new 3.2.20.09.87 with the 1.6.0_35 JDK and added the suggested setting changes to the sqldeveloper.conf. I definitely see that memory is being freed up as I close worksheets but not as much as I would expect. I'll work with these settings this week and see how it goes.