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Understanding Profiling Methods

Microsoft Visual Studio Premium Profiling Tools provide five methods that you can use to collect performance data. This topic describes the different methods and suggests some scenarios in which collecting data with a particular method can be appropriate.

Requirements

  • Visual Studio Ultimate, Visual Studio Premium, Visual Studio Professional

Note Note

Enhanced security features in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 required significant changes in the way the Visual Studio profiler collects data on these platforms. Windows Store apps also require new collection techniques. See Profiling Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 applications.

Method

Description

Sampling

Collects statistical data about the work performed by an application.

Instrumentation

Collects detailed timing information about each function call.

Concurrency

Collects detailed information about multi-threaded applications.

.NET memory

Collects detailed information about .NET memory allocation and garbage collection.

Tier interaction

Collects information about synchronous ADO.NET function calls to a SqlServer database.

Tier interaction profiling can be collected using Visual Studio Ultimate, Visual Studio Premium, or Visual Studio Professional. However, tier interaction profiling data can be viewed only in Visual Studio Premium or Visual Studio Ultimate.

By using some of the profiling methods, you can also collect additional data, such as software and hardware performance counters. For more information, see Collecting Additional Performance Data.

The sampling profiling method collects statistical data about the work that is performed by an application during a profiling run. The sampling method is lightweight and has little effect on the execution of the application methods.

Sampling is the default method of the Microsoft Visual Studio Premium Profiling Tools. It is useful for the following: 

  • Initial explorations of the performance of your application.

  • Investigating performance issues that involve the utilization of the processor (CPU).

The sampling profiling method interrupts the computer processor at set intervals and collects the function call stack. Exclusive sample counts are incremented for the function that is executing and inclusive counts are incremented for all of the calling functions on the call stack. Sampling reports present the totals of these counts for the profiled module, function, source code line, and instruction.

By default, the profiler sets the sampling interval to CPU cycles. You can change the interval type to another CPU performance counter and you can set the number of counter events for the interval. You can also collect tier interaction profiling(TIP) data that provides information about the queries that are made to a SQL server database through ADO.NET.

Collecting Performance Statistics by Using Sampling

Understanding Sampling Data Values in Profiling Tools

Profiler Sampling Method Data Views

The instrumentation profiling method collects detailed timing for the function calls in a profiled application. Instrumentation profiling is useful for the following:

  • Investigating input/output bottlenecks such as disk I/O.

  • Close examination of a particular module or set of functions.

The instrumentation method injects code into a binary file that captures timing information for each function in the instrumented file and each function call that is made by those functions. Instrumentation also identifies when a function calls into the operating for operations such as writing to a file. Instrumentation reports use four values to represent the total time spent in a function or source code line:

  • Elapsed Inclusive - The total time that is spent executing the function or source line.

  • Application Inclusive - The time that is spent executing the function or source line, but excluding time that is spent in calls to the operating system.

  • Elapsed Exclusive - The time that is spent executing code in the body of the function or source code line. Time that is spent executing functions that are called by the function or source line is excluded.

  • Application Exclusive - The time that is spent executing code in the body of the function or source code line. Time that is spent executing calls to the operating system and time that is spent executing functions that are called by the function or source line is excluded.

You can also collect both CPU and software performance counters by using the instrumentation method.

Understanding Instrumentation Data Values in Profiling Tools

Collecting Detailed Timing Data by Using Instrumentation

Profiler Instrumentation Method Data Views

Concurrency profiling collects information about multithreaded applications. Resource contention profiling collects detailed call stack information every time that competing threads are forced to wait for access to a shared resource. Concurrency visualization also collects more general information about how your multithreaded application interacts with itself, the hardware, the operating system, and other processes on the host computer:

  • Resource contention reports display the total number of contentions and the total time that was spent waiting for a resource for the modules, functions, source code lines, and instructions in which the waiting occurred. Timeline graphs also show the contentions as they occurred.

  • The concurrency visualizer displays graphical information that you can use to locate performance bottlenecks, CPU underutilization, thread contention, thread migration, synchronization delays, areas of overlapped I/O, and other information. When possible, the graphical output links to call stack and source code data. Concurrency visualization data can be collected only for command line and Windows applications.

Understanding Resource Contention Data Values in Profiling Tools

Collecting Thread and Process Concurrency Data

Resource Contention Data Views

Concurrency Visualizer

The .NET memory allocation profiling method interrupts the computer processor at each allocation of a .NET Framework object in a profiled application. When object lifetime data is also collected, the profiler interrupts the processor after each .NET Framework garbage collection.

The profiler collects information about the type, size, and number of objects that were created in an allocation or were destroyed in a garbage collection.

  • When an allocation event occurs, the profiler collects additional information about the function call stack. Exclusive allocation counts are incremented for the function that is currently executing and inclusive counts are incremented for all the calling functions on the call stack. .NET reports present the totals of these counts for the profiled types, modules, functions, source code lines, and instructions.

  • When a garbage collection occurs, the profiler collects data about the objects that were destroyed and information about the objects in each garbage collection generation. At the end of the profiling run, the profiler records data about the objects that were not explicitly destroyed. The Object Lifetime report displays the totals for each type that was allocated in the profiling run.

.NET memory profiling can be used in either sampling or instrumentation mode. The mode that you select does not affect the Allocation and Object Lifetime reports that are unique to.NET memory profiling:

  • When you run .NET memory profiling in sampling mode, the profiler.NET uses memory allocation events as the interval and displays the number of objects that were allocated and the total bytes that were allocated as the inclusive and exclusive values in the reports.

  • When you run .NET memory profiling in instrumentation mode, detailed timing information is collected together with the inclusive and exclusive allocation values.

Understanding Memory Allocation and Object Lifetime Data Values in Profiling Tools

Collecting .NET Memory Allocation and Lifetime Data

Profiling Tools .NET Memory Data Views

Tier-interaction profiling adds information to a profiling data file about synchronous ADO.NET calls between an ASP.NET page or other application and a SQL Server database. Data includes the number and time of calls, and the maximum and minimum times. Tier-interaction data can be added to profiling data that is collected with the sampling, instrumentation, .NET memory, or concurrency methods.

Tier interaction data that is collected by Profiling Tools

Tier Interaction Profiling Data

Collecting tier interaction data by using the Visual Studio IDE

Tier Interaction Views

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