Running IgProf

Obtaining a profile

To profile you just prefix the command line with igprof and options of your choice. The profile outputs from long runs can be large so it’s advisable to compress the data. You would run the performance profiler with compressed output like this:

igprof -d -pp -z -o igprof.pp.gz myApp [arg1 arg2 ...] >& igtest.pp.log &

If you’d like to run the memory profiler instead:

igprof -d -mp -z -o myApp [arg1 arg2 ...] >& &

The above commands send the job output and the final profile to files in the current directory. The -pp option enables the performance profiler and the -mp option the memory profiler. The -d option adds a little more information about the workings of the profiler itself, mainly to the very beginning and end of the job. It helps to see the profiler is active and working correctly.

The -o option sets the name for the profile statistics output file. If you don’t give a name, then a file igprof.NNNNN will be created, where NNNNN is the process id. The -z option tells igprof to compress the profile statistics file using gzip. The igtest.*.log files in the examples above will contain your normal application stdout/stderr plus the igprof -d output described above.

Note also that the -t option can be used to constrain which processes can be profiled, which is useful in case the process launches subprocesses or when a wrapper script is used around the actual binary to be profiled. For example, to profile only the process named myApp when launching via a script

igprof -d -t myApp -pp -z -o igprof.pp.gz [arg1 arg2 ...] >& igtest.pp.log &

If the “-t” option was not used here, igprof would by default profile all subprocesses which are spawned by

Heap profiling

The standard performance and memory profiling described above does not require any changes to your application, however if you would like to obtain a heap profile is a special case which does require a change. By heap profile we mean a snapshot of the active (not yet deleted) memory allocations in the heap at some instant in time during the run of your application. In order to obtain the heap profile you need to make some small code changes such that your application triggers igprof to write the current heap profile at the appropriate point in time.

To do this you need to add the following (an execute it one time) somewhere in your application:

#include <dlfcn.h>

void (*dump_)(const char *);

if (void *sym = dlsym(0, "igprof_dump_now")) {
  dump_ = __extension__ (void(*)(const char *)) sym;
} else {
  std::cout << "Heap profile requested but application is not"
            << " currently being profiled with igprof" << std::endl;

and then later when you like to trigger igprof to write the current heap profile, you should do:

if (dump_) {
  std::string heapfile;
  // the heap profile statistics will be written to a file with name
  // specified by the string "heapfile", so here you should construct the
  // filename you would like. If you intend to dump multiple profile
  // statistics files over the course of the application run, you
  // might for example need to construct the filename to include also
  // a integer counter, etc.

With these simple code changes you can tell igprof precisely when to dump heap profile statistics files.

A more elaborate example (, IgProfService.h) of a wrapper from our own application might be illustrative of the more complex possibilities, even if our example code won’t be directly usable for you. In it a series of standardized callbacks from our application framework allow for heap profiles to be enabled and triggered from various places, all with configurable filenames. (A example configuration to dump every 50 “events” in our application would set reportFirstEvent=0, reportEventInterval=50, and reportToFileAtPostEvent set to “igtest.%I.out”, for example. Another useful trick that is possible is to use a filename like “| gzip -c > igtest.%I.gz”, i.e. piping to an external gzip application to make sure that the large dump files are compressed during the application run.)

Next step

The profile statistics output files written by igprof during the application run are actually simple text files, however they are effectively just the raw data you need to produce useful profiling reports. The next step is to process these raw igprof dumps and produce reports.