Heat map generation tools
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README

HeatMap

Some software to generate heat maps:

trace2heatmap.pl	converts a trace of per-event latency to an interactive SVG heat map.

See http://dtrace.org/blogs/brendan/2013/05/19/revealing-hidden-latency-patterns


trace2heatmap
=============
This is a quick program to generate heat maps from trace files.  I wrote it
in 3 hours, so it's probably buggy (especially input checking).

It takes input as two numerical columns, a time and a latency. For example:

$ more trace.txt
17442020318913 8026
17442020325950 6798
17442020333082 6907
17442020339374 6065
[...]

Each row is an event (eg, an I/O).  The first column is time of the event and
the second is latency.  In this example, both columns are microseconds.
See the later Generating Latency Traces section for how to generate these.

This example can converted into an SVG heatmap using:

$ ./trace2heatmap.pl --unitstime=us --unitslabel=us trace.txt > heatmap.svg

Other units can also be used ("ms", "ns").

The y-axis will auto-scale to include everything, including latency outliers.
While useful, you generally want to generate a second heatmap that excludes
those so you can study the bulk of the data.  Eg:

$ ./trace2heatmap.pl --unitstime=us --unitslabel=us --maxlat=10000 trace.txt > heatmap2.svg

This limits the latency range to 10000 us.

A --minlat option can also be used.  Run --help for the full list, which
includes --titletext to customize the title, and --grid to draw grid lines.

When doing a mouse-over of rectangles (histogram buckets), the following
information will be displayed at the bottom of the heat map:

- time: elapsed time in seconds.
- range: latency range (y-axis) shown by the rectangle.
- count: number of events in this rectangle (time and latency range).
- pct: shows number of events in this rectangle as a percentage of all those in the column.
- acc: accumulated count, counting from bottom-up in the column.
- acc pct: accumulated count as a percentage. This can be used to find the percentile points.

trace2heatmap can generate other heat maps, not just latency.  As an example of
another type, see the utilization heat map in:
http://dtrace.org/blogs/brendan/2011/12/18/visualizing-device-utilization


Generating Latency Traces
=========================
An example trace file is included, example-trace.txt, which was generated
using a DTrace program called iosnoop (from the DTraceToolkit):

$ ./iosnoop -Dt > out.iosnoop
$ awk '{ print $1, $2 }' out.iosnoop > example-trace.txt

These are performed as separate steps so that the original iosnoop output can
be reinspected to see more details if interesting features were found in the
heat map.  I typically run it with "iosnoop -Dots".  Note that most versions
of iosnoop need dynvarsize increased to avoid "dynamic variable drops": find
the line that has "#pragma D option quiet" and add the following line below
it: "#pragma D option dynvarsize=16m".

Here's an example DTrace one-liner that will generate trace output, both 
columns in microseconds, for syscall reads:

$ dtrace -qn 'syscall::read:entry { self->ts = timestamp; }
    syscall::read:return /self->ts/ {
    printf("%d %d\n", timestamp / 1000, (timestamp - self->ts) / 1000); self->ts = 0; }'

This is system-wide; add a predicate to filter for applications.

I could add more examples, but you probably get the picture: anything that can
emit times and latency can be processed.


Tracing in Production
=====================
Tracing per-event latency can be expensive to perform.  DTrace minimizes the
overheads as much as possible using per-CPU buffers and asynchronous kernel-
user transfers; other tools (eg, strace, tcpdump) are expected to have higher
overhead.  This can cause problems for production use: you wan to understand
the overhead, including when using DTrace, before tracing events.

Heat maps have been used successfully in production -- and recorded at a one
second granularity 24x7x365 -- by some products built upon DTrace.  These use
the DTrace aggregating feature to pass a quantized summary of latency to
user-level, instead of every event, cutting the data transfer down by a
large factor (eg, 1000x). This summary may consist of a per-second array with
about 200 elements for different latency ranges, each containing the count of
events, and is from the DTrace aggregating actions @quantize, @lquantize, or
@llquantize (best).  This array is then resampled (downsampled) to the
resolution desired for the heat map (usually down to 30 or so levels).
Example products that do this are the Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance, and Joyent
Cloud Analytics.


Provided Example
================
An example output is included of a disk I/O trace, and the resulting heat map.
You can generate it using:

$ ./trace2heatmap.pl --unitstime=us --unitslabel=us --maxlat=2000 --grid example-trace.txt > example-heatmap.svg 

This excluded outliers, so that the bulk of the I/O could be examined.