Aijin Yuan (Vince)
2 min readNov 20, 2015

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Profiling memory usage of a Go app

net/http/pprof is a powerful package for profiling. This video introduces how to use it to do memory profiling. Let me write down the steps.

  1. Import the package in your go web project (it doesn’t have to be a web app). Just add this line import _ "net/http/pprof" into your code. (If your app is not a web app, see the links at the end of this post.) If you are using Gin web framework, you need to use the pprof wrapper for Gin.
  2. You can view statistic in browser http://localhost:8080/debug/pprof/
  3. Download the heap profile curl -s http://localhost:8080/debug/pprof/heap > ~/Downloads/base.heap
  4. After a while, download the current heap profile curl -s http://localhost:8080/debug/pprof/heap > ~/Downloads/current.heap
  5. Compare two profiles to find the difference.

go tool pprof --base ~/Downloads/base.heap ~/go/bin/yourapp ~/Downloads/current.heap

You can show the number of objects by using this option -inuse_objects

go tool pprof -inuse_objects --base ~/Downloads/base.heap ~/go/bin/yourapp ~/Downloads/current.heap

6. Now you enter the interactive mode of pprof.

Use top to view the top entries (memory usage).

(pprof) top
13356 of -19412 total ( -69%)
flat flat% sum% cum cum%
10923 -56% -56% 10923 -56% runtime.deferproc.func1
1365 -7% -63% 1365 -7% runtime.malg
910 -4.7% -68% 910 -4.7% math/big.nat.make
158 -0.81% -69% 158 -0.81% crypto/tls.(*Conn).readHandshake
0 -0% -69% 0 -0% bufio.(*Reader).Peek
0 -0% -69% 0 -0% bufio.(*Reader).Read
0 -0% -69% 0 -0% bufio.(*Reader).fill
0 -0% -69% 0 -0% bufio.(*Writer).Write
0 -0% -69% 0 -0% bufio.(*Writer).flush
0 -0% -69% 0 -0% bytes.(*Buffer).ReadFrom

Use web to visualize the graph though the web browser. Actually it generates a .svg file. You need to set your browser as the default application to open .svg file first.

You can view the source code! Use list command for functions shown in top. For example, list runtime.deferproc.func1

(pprof) list runtime.deferproc.func1
Total: -19412
ROUTINE ======================== runtime.deferproc.func1 in /usr/local/go/src/runtime/panic.go
10923 10923 (flat, cum) -56% of Total
. . 67: sp := getcallersp(unsafe.Pointer(&siz))
. . 68: argp := uintptr(unsafe.Pointer(&fn)) + unsafe.Sizeof(fn)
. . 69: callerpc := getcallerpc(unsafe.Pointer(&siz))
. . 70:
. . 71: systemstack(func() {
10923 10923 72: d := newdefer(siz)
. . 73: if d._panic != nil {
. . 74: throw("deferproc: d.panic != nil after newdefer")
. . 75: }
. . 76: d.fn = fn
. . 77: d.pc = callerpc

More resources:

https://golang.org/pkg/net/http/pprof/

https://blog.golang.org/profiling-go-programs

Originally published at vinceyuan.github.io on November 20, 2015.

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Aijin Yuan (Vince)

iOS/Android/Web developer. UX engineering lead at Grab. Singapore/Hong Kong/Shanghai