Performance engineering with Trace

Martijn Hendriks, Twan Basten
Leestijd: 5 minuten

Trace is a lightweight tool that offers visualization and sophisticated, automated techniques to analyze system performance. ESI (TNO) explains the tool’s underlying concepts and describes two example applications at Océ.

Understanding, analyzing and ultimately solving performance issues in high-tech systems is a notoriously difficult task. Performance is a cross-cutting concern often affected by many system components. One simple yet effective way of gaining insight into performance is to capture execution traces that involve the most significant components and visualize them in a Gantt chart. Trace is a lightweight tool that offers this visualization. It also provides sophisticated, automated analysis techniques tailored to answering typical questions such as ‘What’s the bottleneck?’, ‘Are the throughput and latency requirements met?’ and ‘How can we improve performance?’.

One of ESI’s long-term ambitions is to provide methods and tools for achieving performance ‘by construction’. This guarantees performance properties on the left-hand side of the well-known V-model of development. It improves current state-of-practice in which performance properties often emerge late in the development process (on the right-hand side of the V-model) and thus are very expensive to fix if they’re not satisfactory. Research by ESI and many others has demonstrated over the past years that executable models (virtual prototypes and digital twins) and their analysis will play an important role in realizing this ESI ambition. Trace contributes here, as it can visualize and analyze both simulation traces in models and execution traces in real systems, through which engineers can acquire greater insight into their designs’ inner workings with respect to performance in the early phases of development.

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