u_trace GPU Performance Tracing

Mesa has its own GPU performance tracing framework which drivers may choose to implement. gpu.renderstages.* producer for Perfetto Tracing is based on u_trace.

It doesn’t require external dependencies and much simpler to use. Though it provides information only about GPU timings and is harder to analyze for complex rendering.

u_trace is useful when one needs to quickly identify performance bottleneck, or to build a tool to analyze the raw performance data.

Drivers which support u_trace:
  • Intel drivers: Anv, Iris

  • Adreno drivers: Freedreno, Turnip


u_trace is controlled by environment variables:


if set to 1 enables tracing and outputs the data into stdout


specifies a file where to write the output instead of stdout


controls a format of the output


human readable text format


json format, suitable for parsing. Application should appropriately finish its rendering in order for trace’s json to be valid. For Vulkan api it is expected to destroy the device, for GL it is expected to destroy the context.


Meaningful only for Perfetto tracing. If set to 1 enables instrumentation of GPU commands before the tracing is enabled.