Virtualization

Performance Profiling of Virtual Machines

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Executive Summary

Profilers based on hardware performance counters are indispensable for performance debugging of complex software systems. All modern processors feature hardware performance counters, but current Virtual Machine Monitors (VMMs) do not properly expose them to the guest operating systems. Existing profiling tools require privileged access to the VMM to profile the guest and are only available for VMMs based on paravirtualization. Diagnosing performance problems of software running in a virtualized environment is therefore quite difficult. This paper describes how to extend VMMs to support performance profiling. The authors present two types of profiling in a virtualized environment: guest-wide profiling and system-wide profiling. Guest-wide profiling shows the runtime behavior of a guest.

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