What can performance counters do for memory subsystem analysis?


Nowadays, all major processors provide a set of performance counters which capture micro-architectural level information, such as the number of elapsed cycles, cache misses, or instructions executed. Counters can be found in processor cores, processor die, chipsets, or in I/O cards. They can provide a wealth of information as to how the hardware is being used by software. Many processors now support events to measure precisely and with very limited overhead, the traffic between a core and the memory subsystem. It is possible to compute average load latency and bus bandwidth utilization. This valuable information can be used to improve code quality and placement of threads to maximize hardware utilization.