memusage - profile memory usage of a program


memusage [option]... program [programoption]...


memusage is a bash script which profiles memory usage of the program, program. It preloads the library into the caller's environment (via the LD_PRELOAD environment variable; see The library traces memory allocation by intercepting calls to malloc(3), calloc(3), free(3), and realloc(3); optionally, calls to mmap(2), mremap(2), and munmap(2) can also be intercepted.

memusage can output the collected data in textual form, or it can use memusagestat(1) (see the -p option, below) to create a PNG file containing graphical representation of the collected data.

Memory usage summary

The "Memory usage summary" line output by memusage contains three fields:

heap total

Sum of size arguments of all malloc(3) calls, products of arguments (nmemb*size) of all calloc(3) calls, and sum of length arguments of all mmap(2) calls. In the case of realloc(3) and mremap(2), if the new size of an allocation is larger than the previous size, the sum of all such differences (new size minus old size) is added.

heap peak

Maximum of all size arguments of malloc(3), all products of nmemb*size of calloc(3), all size arguments of realloc(3), length arguments of mmap(2), and new_size arguments of mremap(2).

stack peak

Before the first call to any monitored function, the stack pointer address (base stack pointer) is saved. After each function call, the actual stack pointer address is read and the difference from the base stack pointer computed. The maximum of these differences is then the stack peak.

Immediately following this summary line, a table shows the number calls, total memory allocated or deallocated, and number of failed calls for each intercepted function. For realloc(3) and mremap(2), the additional field "nomove" shows reallocations that changed the address of a block, and the additional "dec" field shows reallocations that decreased the size of the block. For realloc(3), the additional field "free" shows reallocations that caused a block to be freed (i.e., the reallocated size was 0).

The "realloc/total memory" of the table output by memusage does not reflect cases where realloc(3) is used to reallocate a block of memory to have a smaller size than previously. This can cause sum of all "total memory" cells (excluding "free") to be larger than the "free/total memory" cell.

Histogram for block sizes

The "Histogram for block sizes" provides a breakdown of memory allocations into various bucket sizes.


-n name, --progname=name

Name of the program file to profile.

-p file, --png=file

Generate PNG graphic and store it in file.

-d file, --data=file

Generate binary data file and store it in file.

-u, --unbuffered

Do not buffer output.

-b size, --buffer=size

Collect size entries before writing them out.


Disable timer-based (SIGPROF) sampling of stack pointer value.

-m, --mmap

Also trace mmap(2), mremap(2), and munmap(2).

-?, --help

Print help and exit.


Print a short usage message and exit.

-V, --version

Print version information and exit.

The following options apply only when generating graphical output:
-t, --time-based

Use time (rather than number of function calls) as the scale for the X axis.

-T, --total

Also draw a graph of total memory use.


Use name as the title of the graph.

-x size, --x-size=size

Make the graph size pixels wide.

-y size, --y-size=size

Make the graph size pixels high.


The exit status of memusage is equal to the exit status of the profiled program.



Below is a simple program that reallocates a block of memory in cycles that rise to a peak before then cyclically reallocating the memory in smaller blocks that return to zero. After compiling the program and running the following commands, a graph of the memory usage of the program can be found in the file memusage.png:

$ memusage --data=memusage.dat ./a.out
Memory usage summary: heap total: 45200, heap peak: 6440, stack peak: 224
        total calls  total memory  failed calls
 malloc|         1           400             0
realloc|        40         44800             0  (nomove:40, dec:19, free:0)
 calloc|         0             0             0
   free|         1           440
Histogram for block sizes:
  192-207             1   2% ================
 2192-2207            1   2% ================
 2240-2255            2   4% =================================
 2832-2847            2   4% =================================
 3440-3455            2   4% =================================
 4032-4047            2   4% =================================
 4640-4655            2   4% =================================
 5232-5247            2   4% =================================
 5840-5855            2   4% =================================
 6432-6447            1   2% ================
$ memusagestat memusage.dat memusage.png

Program source

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#define CYCLES 20
main(int argc, char *argv[])
    int i, j;
    size_t size;
    int *p;
    size = sizeof(*p) * 100;
    printf("malloc: %zu\n", size);
    p = malloc(size);
    for (i = 0; i < CYCLES; i++) {
        if (i < CYCLES / 2)
            j = i;
        size = sizeof(*p) * (j * 50 + 110);
        printf("realloc: %zu\n", size);
        p = realloc(p, size);
        size = sizeof(*p) * ((j + 1) * 150 + 110);
        printf("realloc: %zu\n", size);
        p = realloc(p, size);


memusagestat(1), mtrace(1),