Trace Analysis Patterns (Part 8)

Sometimes there are reported delays in application startup, session initialization, long response times and simply the absence of response. All these problems can be reflected in software traces showing sudden gaps in threads of activity. I call this pattern Discontinuity per analogy with continuous and discontinuous functions in mathematics. Here is an example I came upon recently and it will be covered fully in the forthcoming pattern cooperation case study spanning both memory dump and trace analysis. One process was reported to have a long period of CPU spiking calculation and a CDF trace was recorded. When we open it we see this periodic error:

N   PID  TID  Time         Message 
326 2592 5476 08:17:18.823 OpenRegistry: Attempting to open [… Hive path …] 
327 2592 5476 08:17:18.824 OpenRegistry: Failed: 2 

However when looking for any discontinuities for the thread 5476 we see this gap of more than 7 minutes:

N    PID  TID  Time         Message
3395 2592 5476 08:17:19.608 OpenRegistry: Attempting to open [... Hive path ...]
3396 2592 5476 08:17:19.608 OpenRegistry: Failed: 2 
3461 2592 5476 08:24:31.137 OpenRegistry: Attempting to open [… Hive path …]
3462 2592 5476 08:24:31.137 OpenRegistry: Failed: 2 

Therefore we have 3 possibilities here:

1. The process twice did lengthy CPU spiking calculations involving registry access and was quiet between them.

2. Registry access belonged to some background activity and ceased for 7 minutes and during that time it had CPU spiking intensive calculation.

3. This discontinuity is irrelevant because either the calculation module was not selected for tracing or it simply doesn’t have relevant tracing statement coverage for the code that does calculation.

Stay tuned because this story will be unfolded in other patterns and in the final case study.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ -

2 Responses to “Trace Analysis Patterns (Part 8)”

  1. Crash Dump Analysis » Blog Archive » Trace Analysis Patterns (Part 9) Says:

    […] can find an example from Discontinuity pattern where the possibility of a sudden and silent gap in trace statements could happen because […]

  2. Crash Dump Analysis » Blog Archive » Adjoint threads, discontinuity and time delta: software trace pattern cooperation Says:

    […] known module name in ETW trace we find PID for print spooler process (19984) and immediately see discontinuity in the trace with the large time delta between the last PID message and the last trace statement […]

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