Brendan Gregg

Visualizing Performance with Flame Graphs

Jul 2017
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Flame graphs are a simple stack trace visualization that helps answer an everyday problem: how is software consuming resources, especially CPUs, and how did this change since the last software version? Flame graphs have been adopted by many languages, products, and companies, including Netflix, and have become a standard tool for performance analysis. They were published in “The Flame Graph” article in the June 2016 issue of Communications of the ACM, by their creator, Brendan Gregg. This talk describes the background for this work, and the challenges encountered when profiling stack traces and resolving symbols for different languages, including for just-in-time compiler runtimes. Instructions will be included generating mixed-mode flame graphs on Linux, and examples from our use at Netflix with Java. Advanced flame graph types will be described, including differential, off-CPU, chain graphs, memory, and TCP events. Finally, future work and unsolved problems in this area will be discussed.

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