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Why doesn't perf report cache misses?

Posted by: admin November 29, 2017 Leave a comment

Questions:

According to perf tutorials, perf stat is supposed to report cache misses using hardware counters. However, on my system (up-to-date Arch Linux), it doesn’t:

[[email protected] goog]$ perf stat ./hash

 Performance counter stats for './hash':

    869.447863 task-clock                #    0.997 CPUs utilized          
            92 context-switches          #    0.106 K/sec                  
             4 cpu-migrations            #    0.005 K/sec                  
         1,041 page-faults               #    0.001 M/sec                  
 2,628,646,296 cycles                    #    3.023 GHz                    
   819,269,992 stalled-cycles-frontend   #   31.17% frontend cycles idle   
   132,355,435 stalled-cycles-backend    #    5.04% backend  cycles idle   
 4,515,152,198 instructions              #    1.72  insns per cycle        
                                         #    0.18  stalled cycles per insn
 1,060,739,808 branches                  # 1220.015 M/sec                  
     2,653,157 branch-misses             #    0.25% of all branches        

   0.871766141 seconds time elapsed

What am I missing? I already searched the man page and the web, but didn’t find anything obvious.

Edit: my CPU is an Intel i5 2300K, if that matters.

Answers:

On my system, an Intel Xeon X5570 @ 2.93 GHz I was able to get perf stat to report cache references and misses by requesting those events explicitly like this

perf stat -B -e cache-references,cache-misses,cycles,instructions,branches,faults,migrations sleep 5
Performance counter stats for 'sleep 5':

         10573 cache-references                                            
          1949 cache-misses              #   18.434 % of all cache refs    
       1077328 cycles                    #    0.000 GHz                    
        715248 instructions              #    0.66  insns per cycle        
        151188 branches                                                    
           154 faults                                                      
             0 migrations                                                  

   5.002776842 seconds time elapsed

The default set of events did not include cache events, matching your results, I don’t know why

perf stat -B sleep 5

Performance counter stats for 'sleep 5':

      0.344308 task-clock                #    0.000 CPUs utilized          
             1 context-switches          #    0.003 M/sec                  
             0 CPU-migrations            #    0.000 M/sec                  
           154 page-faults               #    0.447 M/sec                  
        977183 cycles                    #    2.838 GHz                    
        586878 stalled-cycles-frontend   #   60.06% frontend cycles idle   
        430497 stalled-cycles-backend    #   44.05% backend  cycles idle   
        720815 instructions              #    0.74  insns per cycle        
                                         #    0.81  stalled cycles per insn
        152217 branches                  #  442.095 M/sec                  
          7646 branch-misses             #    5.02% of all branches        

   5.002763199 seconds time elapsed

Questions:
Answers:

In the latest source code, the default event does not include cache-misses and cache-references again:

struct perf_event_attr default_attrs[] = {

  { .type = PERF_TYPE_SOFTWARE, .config = PERF_COUNT_SW_TASK_CLOCK      },
  { .type = PERF_TYPE_SOFTWARE, .config = PERF_COUNT_SW_CONTEXT_SWITCHES    },
  { .type = PERF_TYPE_SOFTWARE, .config = PERF_COUNT_SW_CPU_MIGRATIONS      },
  { .type = PERF_TYPE_SOFTWARE, .config = PERF_COUNT_SW_PAGE_FAULTS     },

  { .type = PERF_TYPE_HARDWARE, .config = PERF_COUNT_HW_CPU_CYCLES      },
  { .type = PERF_TYPE_HARDWARE, .config = PERF_COUNT_HW_STALLED_CYCLES_FRONTEND },
  { .type = PERF_TYPE_HARDWARE, .config = PERF_COUNT_HW_STALLED_CYCLES_BACKEND  },
  { .type = PERF_TYPE_HARDWARE, .config = PERF_COUNT_HW_INSTRUCTIONS        },
  { .type = PERF_TYPE_HARDWARE, .config = PERF_COUNT_HW_BRANCH_INSTRUCTIONS },
  { .type = PERF_TYPE_HARDWARE, .config = PERF_COUNT_HW_BRANCH_MISSES       },

};

So the man and most web are out of date as so far.

Questions:
Answers:

I’ve spent some minutes trying to understand perf. I found out the cache-misses by first recording and then reporting the data (both perf tools).

To see a list of events:

perf list

For example, to chech the last-level-cache load misses you will want to use the event LLC-loads-misses like this

perf record -e LLC-loads-misses ./your_program

then report the results

perf report -v