Performance Application Programming Interface

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In computer science, Performance Application Programming Interface (PAPI) is a portable interface (in the form of a library) to hardware performance counters on modern microprocessors. It is being widely used to collect low level performance metrics (e.g. instruction counts, clock cycles, cache misses) of computer systems running UNIX/Linux operating systems.

PAPI provides predefined high level hardware events summarized from popular processors and direct access to low level native events of one particular processor. Counter multiplexing and overflow handling are also supported.

Operating system support for accessing hardware counters is needed to use PAPI. For example, a Linux/x86 kernel has to be patched with a performance monitoring counters driver (perfctr link) to support PAPI.

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