Profiling JAX programs¶

TensorBoard profiling¶

TensorBoard’s profiler can be used to profile JAX programs. Tensorboard is a great way to acquire and visualize performance traces and profiles of your program, including activity on GPU and TPU. The end result looks something like this:

Installation¶

The TensorBoard profiler is only available with the version of TensorBoard bundled with TensorFlow.

pip install tensorflow tbp-nightly


If you already have TensorFlow installed, you only need to install the tbp-nightly pip package. Be careful to only install one version of TensorFlow or TensorBoard, otherwise you may encounter the “duplicate plugins” error described below.

(We recommend tbp-nightly because tensorboard-plugin-profile==2.4.0 is incompatible with TensorBoard’s experimental fast data loading logic. This should be resolved with tensorboard-plugin-profile==2.5.0 when it’s released. These instructions were tested with tensorflow==2.4.1 and tbp-nightly==2.5.0a20210428.)

Programmatic capture¶

You can instrument your code to capture a profiler trace via the jax.profiler.start_trace() and jax.profiler.stop_trace() methods. Call start_trace() with the directory to write trace files to. This should be the same --logdir directory used to start TensorBoard. Then, you can use TensorBoard to view the traces.

For example, to take a profiler trace:

import jax

jax.profiler.start_trace("/tmp/tensorboard")

# Run the operations to be profiled
key = jax.random.PRNGKey(0)
x = jax.random.normal(key, (5000, 5000))
y = x @ x

jax.profiler.stop_trace()


Note the block_until_ready() call. We use this to make sure on-device execution is captured by the trace. See Asynchronous dispatch for details on why this is necessary.

You can also use the jax.profiler.trace() context manager as an alternative to start_trace and stop_trace:

import jax

with jax.profiler.trace():
key = jax.random.PRNGKey(0)
x = jax.random.normal(key, (5000, 5000))
y = x @ x


To view the trace, first start TensorBoard if you haven’t already:

$tensorboard --logdir=/tmp/tensorboard [...] Serving TensorBoard on localhost; to expose to the network, use a proxy or pass --bind_all TensorBoard 2.5.0 at http://localhost:6006/ (Press CTRL+C to quit)  You should be able to load TensorBoard at http://localhost:6006/ in this example. You can specify a different port with the --port flag. See Profiling on a remote machine below if running JAX on a remote server. Then, either select “Profile” in the upper-right dropdown menu, or go directly to http://localhost:6006/#profile. Available traces appear in the “Runs” dropdown menu on the left. Select the run you’re interested in, and then under “Tools”, select “trace_viewer”. You should now see a timeline of the execution. You can use the WASD keys to navigate the trace, and click or drag to select events to see more details at the bottom. See these TensorFlow docs for more details on using the trace viewer. Manual capture via TensorBoard¶ The following are instructions for capturing a manually-triggered N-second trace from a running program. 1. Start a TensorBoard server: tensorboard --logdir /tmp/tensorboard/  You should be able to load TensorBoard at http://localhost:6006/. You can specify a different port with the --port flag. See Profiling on a remote machine below if running JAX on a remote server. 2. In the Python program or process you’d like to profile, add the following somewhere near the beginning: import jax.profiler server = jax.profiler.start_server(9999)  This starts the profiler server that TensorBoard connects to. The profiler server must be running before you move on to the next step. It will remain alive and listening until the object returned by start_server() is destroyed. If you’d like to profile a snippet of a long-running program (e.g. a long training loop), you can put this at the beginning of the program and start your program as usual. If you’d like to profile a short program (e.g. a microbenchmark), one option is to start the profiler server in an IPython shell, and run the short program with %run after starting the capture in the next step. Another option is to start the profiler server at the beginning of the program and use time.sleep() to give you enough time to start the capture. 3. Open http://localhost:6006/#profile, and click the “CAPTURE PROFILE” button in the upper left. Enter “localhost:9999” as the profile service URL (this is the address of the profiler server you started in the previous step). Enter the number of milliseconds you’d like to profile for, and click “CAPTURE”. 4. If the code you’d like to profile isn’t already running (e.g. if you started the profiler server in a Python shell), run it while the capture is running. 5. After the capture finishes, TensorBoard should automatically refresh. (Not all of the TensorBoard profiling features are hooked up with JAX, so it may initially look like nothing was captured.) On the left under “Tools”, select “trace_viewer”. You should now see a timeline of the execution. You can use the WASD keys to navigate the trace, and click or drag to select events to see more details at the bottom. See these TensorFlow docs for more details on using the trace viewer. Adding custom trace events¶ By default, the events in the trace viewer are mostly low-level internal JAX functions. You can add your own events and functions by using jax.profiler.TraceAnnotation and jax.profiler.annotate_function() in your code. Troubleshooting¶ GPU profiling¶ Programs running on GPU should produce traces for the GPU streams near the top of the trace viewer. If you’re only seeing the host traces, check your program logs and/or output for the following error messages. If you get an error like: Could not load dynamic library 'libcupti.so.10.1' Full error: W external/org_tensorflow/tensorflow/stream_executor/platform/default/dso_loader.cc:55] Could not load dynamic library 'libcupti.so.10.1'; dlerror: libcupti.so.10.1: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory 2020-06-12 13:19:59.822799: E external/org_tensorflow/tensorflow/core/profiler/internal/gpu/cupti_tracer.cc:1422] function cupti_interface_->Subscribe( &subscriber_, (CUpti_CallbackFunc)ApiCallback, this)failed with error CUPTI could not be loaded or symbol could not be found.  Add the path to libcupti.so to the environment variable LD_LIBRARY_PATH. (Try locate libcupti.so to find the path.) For example: export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/cuda-10.1/extras/CUPTI/lib64/:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH


If you still get the Could not load dynamic library message after doing this, check if the GPU trace shows up in the trace viewer anyway. This message sometimes occurs even when everything is working, since it looks for the libcupti library in multiple places.

If you get an error like: failed with error CUPTI_ERROR_INSUFFICIENT_PRIVILEGES
Full error:

E external/org_tensorflow/tensorflow/core/profiler/internal/gpu/cupti_tracer.cc:1445] function cupti_interface_->EnableCallback( 0 , subscriber_, CUPTI_CB_DOMAIN_DRIVER_API, cbid)failed with error CUPTI_ERROR_INSUFFICIENT_PRIVILEGES
2020-06-12 14:31:54.097791: E external/org_tensorflow/tensorflow/core/profiler/internal/gpu/cupti_tracer.cc:1487] function cupti_interface_->ActivityDisable(activity)failed with error CUPTI_ERROR_NOT_INITIALIZED


Run the following commands (note this requires a reboot):

echo 'options nvidia "NVreg_RestrictProfilingToAdminUsers=0"' | sudo tee -a /etc/modprobe.d/nvidia-kernel-common.conf
sudo update-initramfs -u
sudo reboot now


Profiling on a remote machine¶

If the JAX program you’d like to profile is running on a remote machine, one option is to run all the instructions above on the remote machine (in particular, start the TensorBoard server on the remote machine), then use SSH local port forwarding to access the TensorBoard web UI from your local machine. Use the following SSH command to forward the default TensorBoard port 6006 from the local to the remote machine:

ssh -L 6006:localhost:6006 <remote server address>


Profiling on a Cloud TPU VM¶

Cloud TPU VMs come with a special version of TensorFlow pre-installed, so there’s no need to explicitly install it, and doing so can cause TensorFlow to stop working on TPU. Just pip install tbp-nightly.

Multiple TensorBoard installs¶

If starting TensorBoard fails with an error like: ValueError: Duplicate plugins for name projector

It’s often because there are two versions of TensorBoard and/or TensorFlow installed (e.g. the tensorflow, tf-nightly, tensorboard, and tb-nightly pip packages all include TensorBoard). Uninstalling a single pip package can result in the tensorboard executable being removed which is then hard to replace, so it may be necessary to uninstall everything and reinstall a single version:

pip uninstall tensorflow tf-nightly tensorboard tb-nightly
pip install tensorflow


Nsight¶

NVIDIA’s Nsight tools can be used to trace and profile JAX code on GPU. For details, see the Nsight documentation.