This documentation is archived and is not being maintained.

How to: Use the High-Resolution Timer

Some devices support a high-resolution timer. This timer, when present, provides more precise measurements than you can obtain by using the TickCount property, which has a 1-millisecond resolution. In applications where precise time measurements are important, the high-resolution timer provides the best results. For example, some Direct3D applications display more smoothly when the animation is based on the high-resolution timer. You can also use this timer in an application to determine how much time a method or a section of code requires to execute.


This code example provides a class that makes it easier to use the high-resolution timer in managed code on Windows CE. The example has the following features:

  • Platform invoke declarations for the native methods in Windows CE.

  • A property that may be used to get the frequency of the high-resolution counter.

  • A property that may be used to get the value of the high-resolution counter.

  • An implementation that supports the TickCount property as a fallback if the QueryPerformanceCounter function is not supported or is emulated.

  • An example of how the high-resolution counter can be used to time an operation.

Public Class HiResTimer
    Private isPerfCounterSupported As Boolean = False
    Private timerFrequency As Int64 = 0
    ' Windows CE native library with QueryPerformanceCounter().
    Private Const [lib] As String = "coredll.dll"

    Public Declare Function QueryPerformanceCounter Lib "Coredll.dll" _
    (ByRef count As Int64) As Integer

    Public Declare Function QueryPerformanceFrequency Lib "Coredll.dll" _
    (ByRef timerFrequency As Int64) As Integer    
    Public Sub New() 
        ' Query the high-resolution timer only if it is supported.
        ' A returned frequency of 1000 typically indicates that it is not
        ' supported and is emulated by the OS using the same value that is
        ' returned by Environment.TickCount.
        ' A return value of 0 indicates that the performance counter is
        ' not supported.
        Dim returnVal As Integer = QueryPerformanceFrequency(timerFrequency)
        If returnVal <> 0 AndAlso timerFrequency <> 1000 Then
            ' The performance counter is supported.
            isPerfCounterSupported = True
            ' The performance counter is not supported. Use
            ' Environment.TickCount instead.
            timerFrequency = 1000
        End If
    End Sub
    Public ReadOnly Property Frequency() As Int64 
            Return timerFrequency
        End Get
    End Property
    Public ReadOnly Property Value() As Int64 
            Dim tickCount As Int64 = 0
            If isPerfCounterSupported Then
                ' Get the value here if the counter is supported.
                Return tickCount
                ' Otherwise, use Environment.TickCount
                Return CType(Environment.TickCount, Int64)
            End If
        End Get
    End Property
    Shared Sub Main() 
        Dim timer As New HiResTimer()
        ' This example shows how to use the high-resolution counter to 
        ' time an operation. 
        ' Get counter value before the operation starts.
        Dim counterAtStart As Int64 = timer.Value
        ' Perform an operation that takes a measureable amount of time.
        Dim count As Integer
        For count = 0 To 9999
            count += 1
            count -= 1
        Next count
        ' Get counter value after the operation ends.
        Dim counterAtEnd As Int64 = timer.Value
        ' Get time elapsed in tenths of milliseconds
        Dim timeElapsedInTicks As Int64 = counterAtEnd - counterAtStart
        Dim timeElapseInTenthsOfMilliseconds As Int64 = timeElapsedInTicks * 10000 / timer.Frequency

        MessageBox.Show("Time Spent in operation (tenths of ms) " + timeElapseInTenthsOfMilliseconds.ToString + vbLf + "Counter Value At Start: " + counterAtStart.ToString + vbLf + "Counter Value At End : " + counterAtEnd.ToString + vbLf + "Counter Frequency : " + timer.Frequency.ToString)
    End Sub
End Class

Compiling the Code

This example requires references to the following namespaces:

See Also