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CPU profiling using perf utility in Linux

After reading my blog entry about a performance issue due to excessive HCC decompression ( Accessing HCC compressed objects using index access path, a reader asked me about the CPU profiling method I mentioned in that blog entry. I started responding to that comment, and realized that the response was too big for a comment. So, in this blog entry, I will cover basics of the CPU profiling in Linux. Other platform provides similar utilities, for example, Solaris provides an utility dtrace.

Tool Box

perf top ‘Too many events are opened.’ message

This is a small blogpost on using ‘perf’. I got an error message when I tried to run ‘perf top’ systemwide:

# perf top
Too many events are opened.
Try again after reducing the number of events

What actually is the case here, is actually described in the perf wiki:

Open file limits
The design of the perf_event kernel interface which is used by the perf tool, is such that it uses one file descriptor per event per-thread or per-cpu.
On a 16-way system, when you do:
perf stat -e cycles sleep 1
You are effectively creating 16 events, and thus consuming 16 file descriptors.

When the Oracle wait interface isn’t enough, part 2: understanding measurements.

In my blogpost When the oracle wait interface isn’t enough I showed how a simple asynchronous direct path scan of a table was spending more than 99% of it’s time on CPU, and that perf showed me that 68% (of the total elapsed time) was spent on a spinlock unlock in the linux kernel which was called by io_submit().

This led to some very helpful comments from Tanel Poder. This blogpost is a materialisation of his comments, and tests to show the difference.

First take a look at what I gathered from ‘perf’ in the first article: