Documentation forSolarWinds Observability

Code profiling for Java

Code profiling provides extra insight into code level execution time that is otherwise not captured by auto-instrumentation. See code profiling for general information.

What profiling information is collected by the Java Library?

  • Currently only traced Servlet requests and SDK initiated traces are profiled. The frequency breakdown is based on the main handling thread hence asynchronous operation is not captured, nor would a non-blocking entry point such as Akka HTTP or Netty generate profiling information.
  • Profiling information has granularity base on profiling interval (default is 20ms), and is configurable in profiler settings.
  • Java class name, method name, base file name and line number will be collected. However, native method calls do not have line number.
  • By default low-level java libraries are excluded (package "java", "javax", "com.sun" etc). This could be changed in profiler settings.

Why don't all traces have profiling information?

  • Profiler is disabled by default, please refer to enabling code profiling.
  • Traces with duration shorter than the configured profiling interval (default is 20ms) might not have profiling information.
  • Traces are not servlet based nor SDK initiated.
  • Profiles might be omitted if the profiling circuit breaker (more below) is triggered. When triggered, the library would print INFO level log message similar to:
    Pause profiling for ... secs. Previous profiling operation took ... ms. That's total of ... consecutive profiling operation(s) that exceeded the circuit breaker duration threshold ... ms

What are the overhead concerns?

  • Overhead might be more noticeable in systems with high number of threads. To reduce overhead, increase code profiling interval such that the library would take snapshots less frequently.
  • A circuit breaker is in place to prevent extra overhead when the JVM is under heavy load. Profiling will be paused when system load is too high.

What is the "Unknown" path shown in the profiles?

  • "Unknown" accounts for occasions where the library failed to obtain snapshots on the given interval. Various conditions can trigger missing snapshots, for example long Garbage Collection operation or high CPU load.