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Deep Memory Profiler


Deep Memory Profiler (dmprof) is a 1) whole-process, 2) timeline-based and 3) post-mortem memory profiler for Chromium. It's designed to categorize all memory usage in a process without any omission. See the Design Doc if interested.

Memory bloat has been a serious issue in Chromium for years. Bloat is harder to fix than leak and errors. We have memory checkers like Valgrind and Address Sanitizer for leak and errors, but no handy tools for bloat. Dmprof is an easy-to-use tool for bloat to know “who is the memory eater”. (It would be helpful also for leak.)


Future announcements (e.g. command line changes) will be done in Subscribe it if you're interested.


How to Use

Dmprof profiles memory usage post-mortem. You need to 1) get memory dumps while Chrome is running, and then 2) analyze the dumps. The analyzing script dmprof is available in src/tools/deep_memory_profiler of the Chromium source tree, or can be retrieved by downloading and running

Phase 1: Build Chromium

You can use dmprof for Chromium static builds with some build options both for Release and Debug builds. Note that it is not available for shared builds.

Linux and ChromeOS-Chrome

  • Release builds - use GYP_DEFINES='profiling=1 profiling_full_stack_frames=1 linux_dump_symbols=1'
  • Debug builds - use GYP_DEFINES='disable_debugallocation=1'


Be careful not to overwrite GYP_DEFINES predefined by
  • Release builds - use GYP_DEFINES='$GYP_DEFINES profiling=1 profiling_full_stack_frames=1 linux_dump_symbols=1 android_use_tcmalloc=1'
  • Debug builds - use GYP_DEFINES='$GYP_DEFINES disable_debugallocation=1 android_full_debug=1 android_use_tcmalloc=1'

ChromeOS / ChromiumOS

  • Release builds - use USE='... deep_memory_profiler'
  • Debug builds - not maintained

Phase 2: Run Chromium

Remember the Process ID of your target process! (c.f. about:memory)

Linux and ChromeOS-Chrome

Run Chromium with a command-line option --no-sandbox and the following environment variables:

  1. HEAPPROFILE=/path/to/prefix (Files like /path/to/prefix.0001.heap are dumped from Chrome.)
  4. (If you get dumps from a standalone Chromium process periodically, specify HEAP_PROFILE_TIME_INTERVAL=<interval seconds between dumping>)


# NOTE: the device needs to be rooted!
adb root
# Create a world-writable dump directory

adb shell mkdir -p /data/local/tmp/heap
adb shell chmod 0777 /data/local/tmp/heap
# Set the following system properties
adb shell setprop heapprof /data/local/tmp/heap/dumptest
adb shell setprop heapprof.mmap 1
adb shell setprop heapprof.deep_heap_profile 1
adb shell setprop heapprof.time_interval 10

ChromeOS / ChromiumOS

Prepare a file /var/tmp/deep_memory_profiler_prefix.txt in your device or VM image. Its content should just have a prefix to dumped files /path/to/prefix like:


If you get dumps from a standalone Chromium process periodically, prepare a file /var/tmp/deep_memory_profiler_time_interval.txt which contains just an integer meaning the interval time to dump:


Phase 3: Make Chromium dump

Standalone (automatic periodical dump)

If you specified "time interval" described above, the Chromium process dumps heap profiles periodically. It depends on the platform how to specify "time interval".

WebDriver (ChromeDriver)

A WebDriver (ChromeDriver) API function is available to dump. Try dump_heap_profile():

dump_heap_profile(reason='Why you want a dump.')

Note that yo
u may want to copy the dumps from your remote machine if you run ChromeDriver remotely.

Memory Benchmarking V8 API

You can dump heap profiles manually from DevTools (or automatically with your script) when you set the environment variables above and specify the command line option --enable-memory-benchmarking to Chrome.

chrome.memoryBenchmarking.heapProfilerDump("browser" or "renderer", "some reason")


You can use Telemetry to drive chrome and, if running on android, to also fetch the files from the device. Use --profiler-tool=tcmalloc-heap --profiler-dir=your_target with the measurement you want to track. It utilizes the above Memory Benchmarking V8 API internally. See Telemetry instructions.

Phase 4: Get the dumps

Find the dumps at /path/to/prefix.*.heap as specified above. Names of the dumps include Process IDs. For example, prefix.12345.0002.heap for pid = 12345.  '0002' is a sequence number of the dump.

The dmprof analyzer script (in the Phase 5) needs the executed Chrome binary to extract symbols. If you analyze in the same host with the Chrome process, you don't need special things. If you analyze in a different host from the Chrome process (it's common in Android and ChromeOS), you may need to specify the path to the executed Chrome binary on the host. (See Phase 5 for details.)

Linux and ChromeOS-Chrome

Heap profiles are dumped to the directory where you specified in the environment variable HEAPPROFILE


Heap profiles are dumped in the device directory where you specified in the property heapprof. Fetch the dump from the device to your host by the following command.

adb pull /data/local/tmp/heap/ .

The dmprof script guesses the path of the Chrome binary on the host if the executed binary was in an Android-specific directory (e.g. /data/app-lib/). If the guess fails, use --alternative-dirs for the dmprof script (in the Phase 5).

ChromeOS / ChromiumOS

Heap profiles are dumped in the device directory where you specified in /var/tmp/deep_memory_profiler_prefix.txt. Fetch them in a certain way like scp from the device / VM.

The dmprof script doesn't know where is the Chrome binary on the host. Use --alternative-dirs for the dmprof script (in the Phase 5).

Phase 5: Analyze the dumps

Use the dmprof script to analyze with the dumped heap profiles.

  1. Run the analyzing script dmprof, and redirect its stdout to a CSV file. You can choose a policy with -p option. Details of policies are described below.
    dmprof csv /path/to/first-one-of-the-dumps.heap > result.csv
  2. Copy the CSV into a spreadsheet application, for example, OpenOffice Calc and Google Spreadsheet.
  3. Draw a (stacked) line chart on the spreadseet for columns from FROM_HERE_FOR_TOTAL to UNTIL_HERE_FOR_TOTAL.  (See the example.)
$ dmprof csv dmprof.03511.0001.heap > dmprof.03511.result.csv

Or, use this to generate a local html with a graph and a data table:

# Generate a JSON output for your dumps.
$ dmprof json /path/to/first-one-of-the-dumps.heap > FOO.json

# Change $POLICY to be one of the policy*.json files, like android.browser, android.renderer, etc..

$ tools/deep_memory_profiler/ FOO.json $POLICY > graph.html

In case of Android or ChromeOS, you may need to use --alternative-dirs for the dmprof script to specify the path of the Chrome binary on the host instead of the path on the device.


$ dmprof csv --alternative-dirs=/data/app-lib/ dmprof.03511.0001.heap

Assuming /data/app-lib/ on device as /home/self/chrome/src/out/Release/lib on host

ChromeOS / ChromiumOS

$ dmprof csv --alternative-dirs=/opt/google/chrome@/home/self/chromeos/chroot/build/x86-generic/opt/google/chrome dmprof.03511.0001.heap

Assuming /opt/google/chrome on device as /home/self/chromeos/chroot/build/x86-generic/opt/google/chrome on host

Phase 6: Drill down into components / backtraces

Given a specific component listed in the graph above, sue the following command to 

# HEAP_FILE => TCMalloc .heap file
# COMPONENT => One of the components displayed in the graph.
# POLICY => the json file used to generate the graph.
tools/deep_memory_profiler/dmprof expand HEAP_FILE POLICY COMPONENT 32


Linux / ChromeOS / Android

  • The total size can be different from RSS reported by ps and /proc/.../stat iin some cases.
    • RSS by ps and stat doesn't include a part of memory usage. For example, the page tables, kernel stack, struct thread_info, and struct task_struct (from man ps). The same difference is in smaps and pmap.
    • Deep Memory Profiler can double-count page frames (physical pages) which are mapped from different virtual pages in the same process. It hardly happens in Chrome.

How to read the graph

Graphs are typical stacked ones which classifies all memory usage into some components.  We have four kinds of graphs from each execution dump based on four built-in "policies": l0, l1, l2, t0.

We're preparing more breakdown policies.  If you'd like to add a criteria for your component, 1) modify policy.*.json files, 2) modify polices.json and add a policy file or 3) report it to

Common components

 mustbezero & unhooked-absent  Should be zero.
 unhooked-anonymous  VMA is mapped, but no information is recorded. No label is given in /proc/.../maps.
 unhooked-file-exec  VMA is mapped, but no information is recorded. An executable file is mapped.
 unhooked-file-nonexec  VMA is mapped, but no information is recorded. A non-executable file is mapped.
 unhooked-file-stack  VMA is mapped, but no information is recorded. Used as a stack.
 unhooked-other  VMA is mapped, but no information is recorded. Used for other purposes.
 no-bucket  Should be small. Out of record because it is an ignorable small blocks.
 tc-unused  Reserved by TCMalloc, but not used by malloc(). Headers, fragmentation and free-list.

Policy "l0"

This policy applies the most rough classification.  

 mmap-v8  mmap'ed for V8. It includes JavaScript heaps and JIT compiled code.
 mmap-catch-all  mmap'ed for other purposes.
 tc-used-all  All memory blocks allocated by malloc().

Policy "l1"

It breaks down memory usage into relatively specific components.

 mmap-v8-heap-newspace  JavaScript new (nursery) heap for younger objects.
 mmap-v8-heap-coderange  Code produced at runtime including JIT-compiled JavaScript code.
 mmap-v8-heap-pagedspace  JavaScript old heap and many other object spaces.
 mmap-v8-other  Other regions mmap'ed by V8.
 mmap-catch-all  Any other mmap'ed regions.
 tc-v8  Blocks allocated from V8.
 tc-skia  Blocks allocated from Skia.
 tc-webkit-catch-all  Blocks allocated from WebKit.
 tc-unknown-string  Blocks which are related to std::string.
 tc-catch-all  Any other blocks allocated by malloc().

Policy "l2"

It tries to breakdown memory usage into specific components.  See policy.l2.json for details, and report to to add more components.

 mmap-v8-heap-newspace  JavaScript new (nursery) heap for younger objects.
 mmap-v8-heap-coderange  Code produced at runtime including JIT-compiled JavaScript code.
 mmap-v8-heap-pagedspace  JavaScript old heap and many other spaces.
 mmap-v8-other  Other regions mmap'ed by V8.
 mmap-catch-all  Any other mmap'ed regions.
 tc-webcore-fontcache  Blocks used for FontCache.
 tc-skia  Blocks used for Skia.
 tc-renderobject  Blocks used for RenderObject.
 tc-renderstyle  Blocks used for RenderStyle.
 tc-webcore-sharedbuf  Blocks used for WebCore's SharedBuffer.
 tc-webcore-XHRcreate  Blocks used for WebCore's XMLHttpRequest (create).
 tc-webcore-XHRreceived  Blocks used for WebCore's XMLHttpRequest (received). 
 tc-webcore-docwriter-add  Blocks used for WebCore's DocumentWriter.
 tc-webcore-node-and-doc  Blocks used for WebCore's HTMLElement, Text, and other Node objects.
 tc-webcore-node-factory  Blocks created by WebCore's HTML*Factory.
 tc-webcore-element-wrapper  Blocks created by WebCore's createHTML*ElementWrapper.
 tc-webcore-stylepropertyset  Blocks used for WebCore's StylePropertySet (CSS).
 tc-webcore-style-createsheet  Blocks created by WebCore's StyleElement::createSheet.
 tc-webcore-cachedresource  Blocks used for WebCore's CachedResource.
 tc-webcore-script-execute  Blocks created by WebCore's ScriptElement::execute.
 tc-webcore-events-related  Blocks related to WebCore's events (EventListener and so on)
 tc-webcore-document-write  Blocks created by WebCore's Document::write.
 tc-webcore-node-create-renderer  Blocks created by WebCore's Node::createRendererIfNeeded.
 tc-webcore-render-catch-all  Any other blocks related to WebCore's Render.
 tc-webcore-setInnerHTML-except-node  Blocks created by setInnerHTML.
 tc-wtf-StringImpl-user-catch-all  Blocks used for WTF::StringImpl.
 tc-wtf-HashTable-user-catch-all  Blocks used for WTF::HashTable.
 tc-webcore-everything-create  Blocks created by WebCore's any create() method.
 tc-webkit-from-v8-catch-all  Blocks created by V8 via WebKit functions.
 tc-webkit-catch-all  Any other blocks created by WebKit.
 tc-v8-catch-all  Any other blocks created in V8.
 tc-toplevel-string  All std::string objects created at the top-level.
 tc-catch-all  Any other blocks by malloc().

Policy "t0"

It classifies memory blocks based on their type_info.

 mmap-v8  mmap'ed for V8. It includes JavaScript heaps and JIT compiled code.
 mmap-catch-all  mmap'ed for other purposes.
 tc-std-string  std::string objects.
 tc-WTF-String  WTF::String objects.
 tc-no-typeinfo-StringImpl  No type_info (not allocated by 'new'), but allocated for StringImpl.
 tc-Skia  Skia objects.
 tc-WebCore-Style  WebCore's style objects.
 tc-no-typeinfo-other  Any other blocks without type_info.
 tc-other  All objects with other type_info.