We know now that we won’t have the same serial computing increase we had in the last decades. We have to cope with optimizing serial codes, and programming parallel and concurrent ones, and this means that all coders have to cope with this paradigm shift. If computer scientists are aware of the tools to use, it is not the same for the “average” scientist or engineer. And this is the purpose of this book: educate the average coder.
Profiling comes in three different flaviors. The first is emulation, where a processor behavior is emulated, the second is sampling, where at regular intervals, the profiler samples the status of a program, and fianlly instrulentation, where the profiler gets information when a subroutine is called and when it returns. As with the Heisenberg uncertainty, profiling changes the exact behavior of your program. This is something you have to remember when analyzing a profile.
Valgrind is an Open Source emulation profiler. It is freely available on standard Linux platforms. As it is an emulation, it is far slower than the actual program. This means that the I/O are underestimated. The advantage is that you can have every detail on the memory behavior (cache misses for instance). Valgrind does not emulate all processors, but you can tweak it to approach your own one.
Some months ago, I had a TotalView tutorial, thanks to my job. Now, I’ve actually used it to debug one of my parallel applications and I would like to share my experience with fantastic tool.
First TotalView is not only a parallel debugger available on several Linux and Unix platforms. It also is a memory checker (MemoryScape and the TotalView plugin) as well as a reverse debugger, that is, you can roll back the execution of a program, even after it crashed (where it would be useless with a standard debugger like GDB).