Visualizing Performance with Flame Graphs

Brendan Gregg, Senior Performance Architect, Netflix


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.

Brendan Gregg, Netflix

Brendan Gregg is an industry expert in computing performance and cloud computing. He is a senior performance architect at Netflix, where he does performance design, evaluation, analysis, and tuning. He is the author of multiple technical books including Systems Performance published by Prentice Hall, and received the USENIX LISA Award for Outstanding Achievement in System Administration. He has also worked as a kernel engineer, and as a performance lead on storage and cloud products. Brendan has created performance analysis tools included in multiple operating systems, and visualizations and methodologies for performance analysis, including flame graphs.

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@conference {203515,
author = {Brendan Gregg},
title = {Visualizing Performance with Flame Graphs},
year = {2017},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jul

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