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6.1. Tutorial: Accessing profiling information

In this tutorial you will learn to use the libpva python module, this library is used to analyse profiles of the programs that run on the IPU. It provides granular information on the compute and memory exchange steps taken on each tile of the IPU. You will learn to:

  • Use the libpva library to access and analyse profiles from the IPU execution.

How to run this tutorial

To run the Jupyter notebook version of this tutorial:

  1. Enable a Poplar SDK environment (see the Getting Started guide for your IPU system)

  2. In the same environment, install the Jupyter notebook server: python -m pip install jupyter

  3. Launch a Jupyter Server on a specific port: jupyter-notebook --no-browser --port <port number>

  4. Connect via SSH to your remote machine, forwarding your chosen port: ssh -NL <port number>:localhost:<port number> <your username>@<remote machine>

For more details about this process, or if you need troubleshooting, see our guide on using IPUs from Jupyter notebooks.


%pip install -r requirements.txt

For this tutorial we are going to use a PopTorch MNIST example and capture profile information that can be read using the PopVision Analysis Library, which is included in the Poplar SDK package. The PopTorch MNIST example is from the simple_applications/popart/mnist directory).

We will run the MNIST example with profiling enabled:

import os
import subprocess
import pva
import matplotlib
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from pathlib import Path
mnist_path = "../../../simple_applications/pytorch/mnist/"
] = '{"autoReport.all":"true", "":"mydirectory"}'["python3", mnist_path])
CompletedProcess(args=['python3', '../../../simple_applications/pytorch/mnist/'], returncode=0)

When this has completed you will find a file called profile.pop in the training and inference subdirectories of the current working directory.

During the execution of these commands, inference/profile.pop and training/profile.pop files were generated. These files report the number of cycles spent on each operation by each tile of the IPU. This rich profiling information can be analysed both using the libpva python library included in the Poplar SDK which can be downloaded from our Graphcore downloads portal and the PopVision Graph Analyser which can be found on our developer page

Using the python API

In this tutorial we use the libpva library to access profiles of the IPU, the documentation for it can be found here: PopVision Analysis Python API.

Loading a profile

Start Python in the directory that contains the profile.pop file you would like to read. Loading the profile into a Python object is easily done with the following:

# Grab the most recently modified profile.pop file
working_dir = Path(".").glob("./mydirectory/training/*.pop")
report_files = [f for f in working_dir if f.is_file()]
report_files.sort(reverse=True, key=lambda a: a.stat().st_mtime)
report_path = str(report_files[0])

# Open the file

report = pva.openReport(report_path)

Now you can access information from the report, as shown in the following examples:

print("Number of compute sets: ", report.compilation.graph.numComputeSets)
print("Number of tiles on target: ",
print("Version of Poplar used: ", report.poplarVersion.string)
Number of compute sets:  181
Number of tiles on target:  1472
Version of Poplar used:  3.1.0 (a027fa0bd5)

You can also iterate over properties such as execution steps, which each represent the execution of a program in Poplar. In this example, we sum the total number of cycles on IPU 0 for all execution steps:

sum(step.ipus[0].cycles for step in report.execution.steps)

Using visitors to explore the data

To analyse the compiled program, it is best to use a ProgramVisitor class with the appropriate visitor functions (See API Documentation for a list of available methods).

A more general explanation of the “visitor pattern” is available on wikipedia along with a python example.

For example, the following class will print the name of any OnTileExecute programs that use multiple vertices:

class TestVisitor(pva.ProgramVisitor):
    def visitOnTileExecute(self, onTileExecute):
        if len(onTileExecute.computeset.vertices) > 1:

Now we will apply this visitor to every program so that we can see a list of all OnTileExecute programs executed that use multiple vertices:

v = TestVisitor()
for s in report.execution.steps:

NOTE: You may see a long list of identical names. This is due to multiple OnTileExecute steps having the same name, which is to be expected.

You can easily create plots of information using Python’s matplotlib library. The following example plots total memory usage (including gaps) for each tile.


plt.plot([ for tile in report.compilation.tiles])

Now open the newly created MemoryByTilePlot.png file and you should see a plot similar to the following.

PopVision Analysis Library screenshot of memory by tile

Going further with the PopVision Graph Analyser

The profiles (*.pop files) generated during this tutorial can also be opened using the PopVision Graph Analyser desktop tool, it provides a graphical interface to explore the performance of your programs on the IPU and can enable you to optimize the usage of tile resources in your IPU application.

The Poplar profiling tutorial provides a comprehensive example of using the Graph Analyser to profile a simple IPU application.

You can also find videos introducing many of the features of the Poplar SDK and the PopVision analysis tools by watching Graphcore’s introductory videos.

Generated:2022-10-20T15:07 SDK:3.1.0-EA.1+1166 SST:0.0.9