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Benchmarking workflow for dotnet/runtime repository

Table of Contents

Introduction

This repository is independent of the dotnet/runtime build system. All you need to get the benchmarks running is to download the dotnet SDKs and cli or use the python script which can do it for you. Please see Prerequisites for more.

If you are not familiar with BenchmarkDotNet or this repository you should read the Microbenchmarks Guide first. It's really short and concise, we really encourage you to read it.

To learn more about designing benchmarks, please read Microbenchmark Design Guidelines.

Code Organization

All Libraries benchmarks which have been ported from the old CoreFX repository belong to the corresponding folders: libraries\$namespace. The Runtime (old CoreCLR) benchmarks can be found in runtime subfolder. The directory structure is the following (some folders have been omitted for brevity):

PS C:\Projects\performance\src\benchmarks\micro> tree
├───libraries
│   ├───System
│   ├───System.Collections
│   ├───System.ComponentModel.TypeConverter
│   ├───System.Console
│   ├───System.Diagnostics
│   ├───System.Globalization
│   ├───System.IO.Compression
│   ├───System.IO.FileSystem
│   ├───System.IO.MemoryMappedFiles
│   ├───System.IO.Pipes
│   ├───System.Linq
│   ├───System.Memory
│   ├───System.Net.Http
│   ├───System.Net.Primitives
│   ├───System.Net.Sockets
│   ├───System.Numerics.Vectors
│   ├───System.Runtime
│   ├───System.Runtime.Extensions
│   ├───System.Runtime.Numerics
│   ├───System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters
│   ├───System.Security.Cryptography
│   ├───System.Security.Cryptography.Primitives
│   ├───System.Text.Encoding
│   ├───System.Text.RegularExpressions
│   ├───System.Threading
│   ├───System.Threading.Channels
│   ├───System.Threading.Tasks
│   ├───System.Threading.Tasks.Extensions
│   ├───System.Threading.ThreadPool
│   ├───System.Threading.Timers
│   └───System.Xml.XmlDocument
├───runtime
│   ├───BenchmarksGame
│   │   └───Inputs
│   ├───Benchstones
│   │   ├───BenchF
│   │   └───BenchI
│   ├───BilinearInterpol
│   ├───Burgers
│   ├───Bytemark
│   ├───Devirtualization
│   ├───Exceptions
│   ├───FractalPerf
│   ├───Inlining
│   ├───Layout
│   ├───Linq
│   ├───Lowering
│   ├───Math
│   │   └───Functions
│   │       ├───Double
│   │       └───Single
│   ├───PacketTracer
│   ├───perflab
│   ├───Roslyn
│   ├───SciMark
│   ├───SIMD
│   ├───Span
│   ├───System.Reflection
│   └───V8

During the port from xunit-performance to BenchmarkDotNet, the namespaces, type and methods names were not changed. The exception to this rule are all System.Collections (#92) and Span<T> (#94) benchmarks which got rewritten to utilize the full capabilities of BenchmarkDotNet.

Please remember that you can filter the benchmarks using a glob pattern applied to namespace.typeName.methodName (read more):

dotnet run -c Release -f netcoreapp5.0 --filter System.Memory*

Moreover, every Libaries benchmark belongs to a Libraries category. Same goes for Runtime.

dotnet runtime Prerequisites

In order to run the benchmarks against local dotnet/runtime build you need to build the dotnet/runtime repository in Release:

C:\Projects\runtime> build -c Release

The most important build artifact for us is CoreRun. CoreRun is a simple host that does NOT take any dependency on NuGet. BenchmarkDotNet generates some boilerplate code, builds it using dotnet cli and tells CoreRun.exe to run the benchmarks from the auto-generated library. CoreRun runs the benchmarks using the libraries that are placed in its folder. When a benchmarked code has a dependency to System.ABC.dll version 4.5 and CoreRun has System.ABC.dll version 4.5.1 in its folder, then CoreRun is going to load and use System.ABC.dll version 4.5.1. This means that with a single clone of this dotnet/performance repository you can run benchmarks against private builds of dotnet/runtime from many different locations.

Every time you want to run the benchmarks against local build of dotnet/runtime you need to provide the path to CoreRun:

dotnet run -c Release -f netcoreapp5.0 --filter $someFilter \
    --coreRun C:\Projects\runtime\artifacts\bin\testhost\netcoreapp5.0-Windows_NT-Release-x64\shared\Microsoft.NETCore.App\5.0.0\CoreRun.exe

Note: BenchmarkDotNet expects a path to CoreRun.exe file (corerun on Unix), not to Core_Root folder.

Once you rebuild the part of dotnet/runtime you are working on, the appropriate .dll gets updated and the next time you run the benchmarks, CoreRun is going to load the updated library.

C:\Projects\runtime\src\libraries\System.Text.RegularExpressions\src> dotnet msbuild /p:Configuration=Release

Preventing Regressions

Preventing regressions is a fundamental part of our performance culture. The cheapest regression is one that does not get into the product.

Before introducing any changes that may impact performance, you should run the benchmarks that test the performance of the feature that you are going to work on and store the results in a dedicated folder.

C:\Projects\performance\src\benchmarks\micro> dotnet run -c Release -f netcoreapp5.0 \
    --artifacts "C:\results\before" \
    --coreRun "C:\Projects\runtime\artifacts\bin\testhost\netcoreapp5.0-Windows_NT-Release-x64\shared\Microsoft.NETCore.App\5.0.0\CoreRun.exe" \
    --filter System.IO.Pipes*

Please try to avoid running any resource-heavy processes that could spoil the benchmark results while running the benchmarks.

You can also create a copy of the folder with CoreRun and all the libraries to be able to run the benchmarks against the unmodified base in the future.

After you introduce the changes and rebuild the part of dotnet/runtime that you are working on in Release you should re-run the benchmarks. Remember to store the results in a different folder.

C:\Projects\runtime\src\libraries\System.IO.Pipes\src> dotnet msbuild /p:Configuration=Release

C:\Projects\performance\src\benchmarks\micro> dotnet run -c Release -f netcoreapp5.0 \
    --artifacts "C:\results\after" \
    --coreRun "C:\Projects\runtime\artifacts\bin\testhost\netcoreapp5.0-Windows_NT-Release-x64\shared\Microsoft.NETCore.App\5.0.0\CoreRun.exe" \
    --filter System.IO.Pipes*

When you have the results you should use ResultsComparer to find out how your changes have affected the performance:

C:\Projects\performance\src\tools\ResultsComparer> dotnet run --base "C:\results\before" --diff "C:\results\after" --threshold 2%

Sample output:

No Slower results for the provided threshold = 2% and noise filter = 0.3ns.
Faster base/diff Base Median (ns) Diff Median (ns) Modality
System.IO.Pipes.Tests.Perf_NamedPipeStream_ServerIn_ClientOut.ReadWrite(size: 10 1.16 297167.47 255575.49

Running against the latest .NET Core SDK

To run the benchmarks against the latest .NET Core SDK you can use the benchmarks_ci.py script. It's going to download the latest .NET Core SDK(s) for the provided framework(s) and run the benchmarks for you. Please see Prerequisites for more.

C:\Projects\performance> py scripts\benchmarks_ci.py -f netcoreapp5.0 \
    --bdn-arguments="--artifacts "C:\results\latest_sdk"" \
    --filter System.IO.Pipes*

Solving Regressions

Repro Case

Once a regression is spotted, the first thing that you need to do is to create a benchmark that shows the problem. Typically every performance bug report comes with a small repro case. This is a perfect candidate for the benchmark (it might require some cleanup).

The next step is to send a PR to this repository with the aforementioned benchmark. Our automation is going to run this benchmark and export the results to our reporting system. When your fix to dotnet/runtime gets merged, our reports are going to show the difference. It also helps us to keep track of the old performance bugs and make sure that they never come back.

Profiling

The real performance investigation starts with profiling. We have a comprehensive guide about profiling dotnet/runtime, we really encourage you to read it: [Profiling dotnet/runtime workflow](./profiling-workflow-dotnet-runtime.md).

To profile the benchmarked code and produce an ETW Trace file (read more):

dotnet run -c Release -f netcoreapp5.0 --profiler ETW --filter $YourFilter

The benchmarking tool is going to print the path to the .etl trace file. You should open it with PerfView or Windows Performance Analyzer and start the analysis from there. If you are not familiar with PerfView, you should watch PerfView Tutorial by @vancem first. It's an investment that is going to pay off very quickly.

// * Diagnostic Output - EtwProfiler *
Exported 1 trace file(s). Example:
C:\Projects\performance\artifacts\20190215-0303-51368\Benchstone\BenchF\Adams\Test.etl

If profiling using the --profiler ETW is not enough, you should use a different profiler. When attaching to a process please keep in mind that what you run in the console is Host process, while the actual benchmarking is performed in dedicated processes. If you want to disable this behavior, you should use InProcessToolchain.

Running against Older Versions

BenchmarkDotNet has some extra features that might be useful when doing performance investigation:

  • You can run the benchmarks against multiple Runtimes. It can be very useful when the regression has been introduced between .NET Core releases, for example: between netcoreapp3.1 and netcoreapp5.0.
  • You can run the benchmarks using provided dotnet cli. You can download few dotnet SDKs, unzip them and just run the benchmarks to spot the version that has introduced the regression to narrow down your investigation.
  • You can run the benchmarks using few CoreRuns. You can build the latest dotnet/runtime in Release, create a copy of the folder with CoreRun and use git to checkout an older commit. Then rebuild dotnet/runtime and run the benchmarks against the old and new builds. This can narrow down your investigation to the commit that has introduced the bug.

Confirmation

When you identify and fix the regression, you should use ResultsComparer to confirm that you have solved the problem. Please remember that if the regression was found in a very common type like Span<T> and you are not sure which benchmarks to run, you can run all of them using --filter *.

Please take a moment to consider how the regression managed to enter the product. Are we now properly protected?

Benchmarking new API

When developing new dotnet/runtime features, we should be thinking about the performance from day one. One part of doing this is writing benchmarks at the same time when we write our first unit tests. Keeping the benchmarks in a separate repository makes it a little bit harder to run the benchmarks against new API, but it's still very easy.

Reference

When you develop a new feature, whether it's a new method/type/library all you need to do is to build it in Release and just reference the produced implementation .dll from the MicroBenchmarks.csproj project file.

The easiest way to do it is to open MicroBenchmarks.sln with Visual Studio, right click on the MicroBenchmarks project file, select "Add", then "Reference..." and in the new Dialog Window click "Browse" in the left bottom corner. From the File Picker, choose the new library and click "Add". Make sure to pick the reference assembly (not implementation assembly) which falls under path artifacts\bin\ref\netcoreapp\. Next, from the Solution Explorer window expand Dependencies for MicroBenchmarks solution and after selecting the assembly which you just added, set CopyLocal value to No from within the Properties window. Please don't forget to Save the changes (Ctrl+Shift+S). From this moment you should be able to consume new public types and methods exposed by the referenced library.

Sample changes:

namespace System
{
    public static class Console
    {
        public static void WriteHelloWorld() => WriteLine("Hello World!");
        // the rest omitted for brevity
    }
}

Sample project file change:

<ItemGroup>
  <Reference Include="System.Console">
    <HintPath>..\..\..\..\runtime\artifacts\bin\ref\netcoreapp\System.Console.dll</HintPath>
    <Private>false</Private>
  </Reference>
</ItemGroup>

PR

Because the benchmarks are not in the dotnet/runtime repository you must do two PR's.

The first thing you need to do is send a PR with the new API to the dotnet/runtime repository. Once your PR gets merged and a new NuGet package is published to the dotnet/runtime NuGet feed, you should remove the Reference to a .dll and install/update the package consumed by MicroBenchmarks. You can do this by running the following script locally:

/home/adsitnik/projects/performance>python3 ./scripts/benchmarks_ci.py --filter $YourFilter -f netcoreapp5.0

This script will try to pull the latest .NET Core SDK from dotnet/runtime nightly build, which should contain the new API that you just merged in your first PR, and use that to build MicroBenchmarks project and then run the benchmarks that satisfy the filter you provided.

After you have confirmed your benchmarks successfully run locally, then your PR should be ready for performance repo.

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