The Instrumented Microkernel

Updated: May 06, 2022

An instrumented version of the microkernel (procnto-instr) is equipped with a sophisticated tracing and profiling mechanism that lets you monitor your system's execution in real time. The procnto-instr module works on both single-CPU and SMP systems.

The procnto-instr module uses very little overhead and gives exceptionally good performance—it's typically about 98% as fast as the noninstrumented kernel (when it isn't logging). The additional amount of code (about 30 KB on an x86 system) in the instrumented kernel is a relatively small price to pay for the added power and flexibility of this useful tool. Depending on the footprint requirements of your final system, you may choose to use this special kernel as a development/prototyping tool or as the actual kernel in your final product.

The instrumented module is nonintrusive—you don't have to modify a program's source code in order to monitor how that program interacts with the kernel. You can trace as many or as few interactions (e.g., kernel calls, state changes, and other system activities) as you want between the kernel and any running thread or process in your system. You can even monitor interrupts. In this context, all such activities are known as events.

For more details, see the System Analysis Toolkit User's Guide.