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Virtualizing Performance Counters

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Virtualizing Performance Counters

Virtual machines are becoming commonplace as a stable and flexible platform to run many workloads. As developers continue to move more workloads into virtual environments, they need ways to analyze the performance characteristics of those workloads. However, performance efforts can be hindered because the standard profiling tools like VTune and the Linux Performance Counter Subsystem do not work in most modern hypervisors. These tools rely on CPUs’ hardware performance counters, which are not currently exposed to the guests by most hypervisors. This work discusses the challenges of performance counters due to the trap and emulate method of virtualization and the time sharing of physical CPUs among multiple virtual CPUs. We propose an approach to address these issues to provide useful and intuitive information about guest performance and the relative costs of virtualization overheads.


Benjamin Serebrin, Daniel Hecht

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