Announcing bpftop: Streamlining eBPF performance optimization

By Jose Fernandez

Today, we are thrilled to announce the release of bpftop, a command-line tool designed to streamline the performance optimization and monitoring of eBPF applications. As Netflix increasingly adopts eBPF [1, 2], applying the same rigor to these applications as we do to other managed services is imperative. Striking a balance between eBPF’s benefits and system load is crucial, ensuring it enhances rather than hinders our operational efficiency. This tool enables Netflix to embrace eBPF’s potential.

Introducing bpftop

bpftop provides a dynamic real-time view of running eBPF programs. It displays the average execution runtime, events per second, and estimated total CPU % for each program. This tool minimizes overhead by enabling performance statistics only while it is active.

bpftop simplifies the performance optimization process for eBPF programs by enabling an efficient cycle of benchmarking, code refinement, and immediate feedback. Without bpftop, optimization efforts would require manual calculations, adding unnecessary complexity to the process. With bpftop, users can quickly establish a baseline, implement improvements, and verify enhancements, streamlining the process.

A standout feature of this tool is its ability to display the statistics in time series graphs. This approach can uncover patterns and trends that could be missed otherwise.

How it works

bpftop uses the BPF_ENABLE_STATS syscall command to enable global eBPF runtime statistics gathering, which is disabled by default to reduce performance overhead. It collects these statistics every second, calculating the average runtime, events per second, and estimated CPU utilization for each eBPF program within that sample period. This information is displayed in a top-like tabular format or a time series graph over a 10s moving window. Once bpftop terminates, it turns off the statistics-gathering function. The tool is written in Rust, leveraging the libbpf-rs and ratatui crates.

Getting started

Visit the project’s GitHub page to learn more about using the tool. We’ve open-sourced bpftop under the Apache 2 license and look forward to contributions from the community.

Announcing bpftop: Streamlining eBPF performance optimization was originally published in Netflix TechBlog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.