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How Do Applications Run on a New Micro-Architecture? Intel VTune Amplifier XE 2011 Answers the Question

Once you create a new project with Profile System as the target type, you can select the analysis type. Intel VTune Amplifier XE 2011 provides advanced hardware-level analysis targeting diverse Intel platforms, such as the Intel Core 2 processor family, Intel micro-architecture code-named Nehalem, Intel micro-architecture code-named Sandy Bridge, and the Intel Atom processor family (see Figure 2). Whenever there is a new Intel micro-architecture, there is usually an update for Intel VTune Amplifier XE 2011 that provides specialized analysis types for the new micro-architecture. Each option provides an event-based sampling analysis type that uses the CPU on-chip PMU (Performance Monitoring Unit) to count performance events such as instructions retired, clock ticks, and cache misses.

Figure 2: The Analysis Type options for the different micro-architectures in Intel VTune Amplifier XE 2011 project.

Each event-based sampling analysis type provides you with valuable information to find out where your applications aren't taking full advantage of the hardware resources provided by the underlying micro-architecture. When you click on each of the available options for your target micro-architecture, Intel VTune Amplifier XE 2011 displays the different event names that will be sampled, their descriptions, and the number of events after which Intel VTune Amplifier XE 2011 interrupts the event data collection (see Figure 3). You can make changes to the default configurations if necessary. Intel VTune Amplifier XE 2011 automatically adjusts the event data collection interruption value with a multiplier, based on the desired duration for the collection.

Figure 3: The events configured for a memory access analysis that targets an old Intel 45 nm Intel Core 2 micro-architecture.

Once you select the desired analysis type, you can click on Start and run all the applications and UX behaviors that you want to analyze and that you want to be part of the data collection. For example, you can start by focusing on the hotspots for different applications with different grouping levels. Because the Profile System target type isn't focusing the analysis on a specific application/process, all the information collected will allow you to determine which applications/processes might be improved to increase overall performance for the target platform.

Intel VTune Amplifier XE 2011 provides you with detailed information that allows you to really understand what's going on in the underlying hardware. This way, you don't draw the wrong conclusions by just checking the average CPU load. You will really understand how the different applications run on the underlying micro-architecture and you can make the best decisions to enable the necessary optimizations. Intel VTune Amplifier XE 2011 also provides useful hints that allow you to understand the different performance issues that you can solve for each of the micro-architectures.

Intel VTune Amplifier XE 2011 is a commercial product, but you can download a free trial version here.

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