[cairo] Performance analysis of a Cairo application

Dan Amelang daniel.amelang at gmail.com
Fri Oct 19 12:27:30 PDT 2007

On 10/19/07, Ivan Baldo <ibaldo at adinet.com.uy> wrote:
>     Hello Dan, thanks for answering!
> El 18/10/07 19:38, Dan Amelang escribió:
> > On 10/17/07, Ivan Baldo <ibaldo at adinet.com.uy> wrote:
> >
> >>     Hello.
> >>     I want my (under development) application to run faster, so I want
> >> to know where most of the time is spent to focus this optimization effort.
> >> ...
> >>     Instead I am getting things like this:
> >>     1% main()
> >> 99% draw()
> >>     50% drawThings1()
> >>     50% drawThings2()
> >>     Thats because both functions have equal complexity on my code, but I
> >> know that actually drawThings1 is using Cairo in a way that it is slower
> >> for Cairo or my graphics card to process than drawThings2.
> >>
> >
> > And how do you know this?
> >
>     Intuition, and I know that it isn't the right way to profile
> programs and optimize them, thats why I looked at gprof and oprofile,
> but didn't get meaningful results for my purpose, so after googling a
> bit I decided that it was time to ask for help :-).
> > The Right Thing To Do is use oprofile to get global, system-wide
> > profiles what will contain performance information for both your
> > application code, cairo, and the X server. That should be all you
> > need, don't worry about the work your graphics card is doing. It's
> > unlikely that your graphics card is involved in the bottleneck, in
> > fact, on many (most?) systems today, the graphics card isn't doing
> > that much to accelerate cairo (yet).
> >
> > So you want to find out what your CPU is spending its time doing, and
> > oprofile is the way to get that.
> >
>     I get that with oprofile, you are right, but it is not what I am
> looking because it is not centered on _the outside effects accumulated
> on my application_.
>     Maybe I am not being clear by email (or my bad English), to help
> explain this a bit (and to simplify my research) I made this simple
> standalone Cairo XRender application (based on the Cairo boilerplate
> code) that it is attached.
>     It has two functions (testfast and testslow) that call one function
> that does the actual work but only varying the size of the drawing.
>     I get this output:
> Elapsed times: fast 3710ms (22%), slow 12892ms (77%), total 16602ms.
>     It doesn't matter if I use gprof or qprof or oprofile, none of this
> tools told me that testfast accumulated to the 22% of the running time
> and that testslow accumulated to the 77% of the running time.
>     To repeat, I would like a call-graph that says something like this:
> main
>     77% testslow
>         77% test
>     22% testfast
>         22% test
> testslow
>     100% test
> testfast
>     100% test
>     That way, for a given function, I could know how its real world time
> is spent and hint where I could look first to start optimizing.
>     My application does very little computation so its time is spent
> mostly on Cairo, I know I can use Cairo better with a little bit of
> extra work, but I want to know where to start to improve my use of
> Cairo. In other words: I don't need to optimize my application itself
> but the Cairo usage patterns that my application employs.
>     How do Cairo users do that analysis?

So yea, having some of the work done in a separate process (X server)
does complicate things a bit, since you can't attribute work done by X
to a specific part of your program. As Jeff pointed out, you can pull
all that work into your local process to avoid the split. This of
course assumes that the performance pattern for an image surface is
similar to that of an Xlib surface, which is a little sketchy, but
probably safe.

Personally, I would just isolate the single path you want to optimize
(either comment out other paths, or create a separate test program
with just the slow path) and run a system-wide profiler on it. That
way you know all the performance data (for both X and your app) is
associated with that one path you want to optimize.


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