Google CPU Profiler Binary Data File Format

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This file documents the binary data file format produced by the Google CPU Profiler. For information about using the CPU Profiler, see its user guide.

The profiler source code, which generates files using this format, is at src/

CPU Profile Data File Structure

CPU profile data files each consist of four parts, in order:

The binary data is expressed in terms of "slots." These are words large enough to hold the program's pointer type, i.e., for 32-bit programs they are 4 bytes in size, and for 64-bit programs they are 8 bytes. They are stored in the profile data file in the native byte order (i.e., little-endian for x86 and x86_64).

Binary Header

The binary header format is show below. Values written by the profiler, along with requirements currently enforced by the analysis tools, are shown in parentheses.

slot data
0 header count (0; must be 0)
1 header slots after this one (3; must be >= 3)
2 format version (0; must be 0)
3 sampling period, in microseconds
4 padding (0)

The headers currently generated for 32-bit and 64-bit little-endian (x86 and x86_64) profiles are shown below, for comparison.

hdr count hdr words version sampling period pad
32-bit or 64-bit (slots) 0 3 0 10000 0
32-bit (4-byte words in file) 0x00000 0x00003 0x00000 0x02710 0x00000
64-bit LE (4-byte words in file) 0x00000 0x00000 0x00003 0x00000 0x00000 0x00000 0x02710 0x00000 0x00000 0x00000

The contents are shown in terms of slots, and in terms of 4-byte words in the profile data file. The slot contents for 32-bit and 64-bit headers are identical. For 32-bit profiles, the 4-byte word view matches the slot view. For 64-bit profiles, each (8-byte) slot is shown as two 4-byte words, ordered as they would appear in the file.

The profiling tools examine the contents of the file and use the expected locations and values of the header words field to detect whether the file is 32-bit or 64-bit.

Binary Profile Records

The binary profile record format is shown below.

slot data
0 sample count, must be >= 1
1 number of call chain PCs (num_pcs), must be >= 1
2 .. (num_pcs + 1) call chain PCs, most-recently-called function first.

The total length of a given record is 2 + num_pcs.

Note that multiple profile records can be emitted by the profiler having an identical call chain. In that case, analysis tools should sum the counts of all records having identical call chains.

Note: Some profile analysis tools terminate if they see any profile record with a call chain with its first entry having the address 0. (This is similar to the binary trailer.)


This example shows the slots contained in a sample profile record.

5 3 0xa0000 0xc0000 0xe0000

In this example, 5 ticks were received at PC 0xa0000, whose function had been called by the function containing 0xc0000, which had been called from the function containing 0xe0000.

Binary Trailer

The binary trailer consists of three slots of data with fixed values, shown below.

slot value
0 0
1 1
2 0

Note that this is the same data that would contained in a profile record with sample count = 0, num_pcs = 1, and a one-element call chain containing the address 0.

Text List of Mapped Objects

The binary data in the file is followed immediately by a list of mapped objects. This list consists of lines of text separated by newline characters.

Each line is one of the following types:

Unrecognized lines should be ignored by analysis tools.

When processing the paths see in mapping lines, occurrences of $build followed by a non-word character (i.e., characters other than underscore or alphanumeric characters), should be replaced by the path given on the last build specifier line.

Chris Demetriou
Last modified: Mon Aug 27 12:18:26 PDT 2007 (cgd)