jeudi 27 janvier 2011

Visiting Event Tracing for Windows

In previous posts, we discussed Linux kernel tracing with LTTng. On the Microsoft side, Event Tracing for Windows allows to gather a kernel trace and user space trace. It's advertised as low-impact, lock-less, per-cpu buffers tracer, with live mode and circular buffers option. Quite interesting.
Here is a quick introduction to how to gather a simple trace on Windows 7 Professional and the different analysis we can get.


Obviously, you will need a Windows 7 Professional host. I installed it in a Linux KVM virtual machine, with 20GB of storage and with two CPUs emulated, with all default options.
First, .NET framework 4 has to be installed, required to install tracing tools bundled with Windows SDK.
In summary, you need to install:
  • dotNetFx40_Full_x86_x64
  • winsdk_web
It will install required tools for tracing: xperf, xperfview, tracelog and tracerpt.

Get a trace

To start tracing, open a console in administration mode, as shown in the following screen shot.

We create a trace directory for our experiments, and start and stop a simple trace with tracelog, as shown in the following screen shot. While tracing, you can start programs to create some activity on the system. I started IE and did some random browsing.

The trace file output is set with "-f" option. If a lot of events occurs, some events can be lost. If such a thing occur, increase the buffers size with "-b" option. Other options are there for some extra trace events, refer to help for more information. To give an idea of the disk requirement, I got a trace of about 20MB for a minute of tracing under light load. The trace file can hence become very big.

If the user doesn't have enough privileges for tracing, the following error message will be raised. Make sure the console is launched as administrator.

C:\trace>tracelog -f kernel.etl -start
Setting log file to: C:\trace\kernel.etl
Could not start logger: NT Kernel Logger
Operation Status: 5L
Access is denied.

Analyze the trace

Launch xperfview to start the Windows Performance Analyzer. Then, load the trace kernel.etl obtained previously. Here is what it looks like.
Disk access graph and CPU usage according to time and process in xperfview.

Process life graph and page faults by process according to time in xperfview.
Offset of disk access to detect system-wide bad seek behavior.

Summary of events count obtained from tracerpt
What I like about xperf is the ability to isolate resource usage per process. Also, zooming in a trace is intuitive by selecting with the mouse an interval that seems interesting. Trace events are completely abstracted as chart and statistics. There views are appropriate for understanding overall system performance. Also, when executable symbols are loaded, the call trace performance is available, which may be very handy for the software optimization. 
The tracerpt utility outputs reports from a trace file, one is the count of all events and the report in HTML gives the statistics for the whole trace by subsystem. Here is an example of report.html generated with tracerpt.

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