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Go Execution Tracer

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Original source (docs.google.com)
Tags: golang go tracing docs.google.com
Clipped on: 2015-06-11

Go Execution Tracer

Go Execution Tracer

Dmitry Vyukov, dvyukov@

Oct 2014


Go has a number of profiling tools -- CPU, memory, blocking profilers; GC and scheduler tracers and heap dumper. However, profilers provide only aggregate information, for example, how much memory in total was allocated at this source line. Tracers provide very shallow information. Heap dumper gives detailed per-object information about heap contents. But there is nothing that gives detailed non-aggregate information about program execution -- what goroutines do execute when? for how long? when do they block? where? who does unblock them? how does GC affect execution of individual goroutines?

The goal of the tracer is to be the tool that can answer these questions.

High-level Overview

A Go program with tracing capability can write trace of interesting events to a file. The capability is compiled into all programs always, and is enabled on demand -- when tracing is disabled it has minimal runtime overhead. That is, the trace can be obtained from a server in production serving live traffic.

The trace contains events related to goroutine scheduling: a goroutine starts executing on a processor, a goroutine blocks on a synchronization primitive, a goroutine creates or unblocks another goroutine; network-related events: a goroutine blocks on network IO, a goroutine is unblocked on network IO; syscalls-related events: a goroutine enters into syscall, a goroutine returns from syscall; garbage-collector-related events: GC start/stop, concurrent sweep start/stop; and user events. Here and below by "processor" I mean a logical processor, unit of GOMAXPROCS. Each event contains event id, a precise timestamp, OS thread id, processor id, goroutine id, stack trace and other relevant information (e.g. unblocked goroutine id).

Once a trace is obtained, it can be visualized and/or processed to extract various types of interesting information. Below you can see a possible visualization:

Image (Asset 1/5) alt=