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Conference Papers Year : 2012

Tiptop: Hardware Performance Counters for the Masses

Erven Rohou


Hardware performance monitoring counters have recently received a lot of attention. They have been used by diverse communities to understand and improve the quality of computing systems: for example, architects use them to extract application characteristics and propose new hardware mechanisms; compiler writers study how generated code behaves on particular hardware; software developers identify critical regions of their applications and evaluate design choices to select the best performing implementation. In this paper, we propose that counters be used by all categories of users, in particular non-experts, and we advocate that a few simple metrics derived from these counters are relevant and useful. For example, a low IPC (number of executed instructions per cycle) indicates that the hardware is not performing at its best; a high cache miss ratio can suggest several causes, such as conflicts between processes in a multicore environment. We also introduce a new simple and flexible user-level tool that collects these data on Linux platforms, and we illustrate its practical benefits through several use cases.


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Dates and versions

hal-00747064 , version 1 (30-10-2012)



Erven Rohou. Tiptop: Hardware Performance Counters for the Masses. 41st International Conference on Parallel Processing Workshops (ICPPW), Sep 2012, Pittsburgh, PA, United States. pp.404-413, ⟨10.1109/ICPPW.2012.58⟩. ⟨hal-00747064⟩
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