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Blktrace, Blkparse and Fio example

· 7 min read

blktrace is a block layer IO tracing mechanism which provide detailed information about request queue operations up to user space.

blkparse will combine streams of events for various devices on various CPUs, and produce a formatted output the the event information. It take the output of above tool blktrace and convert those information into fency readable form.

In the following, We will use those tools blktrace and blkparse to help us to observe sector numbers which has been written by fio requests. We will use the fil to generate two diffenrt IO pattern requests, sequence write and random write.


OS: Ubuntu 14.04 Storage: NVME FIO: fio-2.19-12-gb94d blktrace: 2.0.0 blkparse: 1.1.0

you can use following commands to install blktrace and blkparse

apt-get install -y blktrace



In order to make the output of blkparse more easily to read, we set the numjobs to 1. Following is my fio config





After we setup the fio config, use the fio to generate the IO request. In this example, we ask the fio to generate the IO via sequence write pattern.

fio ${path_of_config} section=sw

During the experiment, you can use the tool iostat to monitor the I/O information about the device we want to observe.


Open other terminal and use blktrace to collection the data, there are two parameter we need to use, First one is -d, which indicate what target device blktrace will monitor to. Second, is -w, we use it to limit the time (seconds) how long blktrace will run. So, our final command looks like below.

blktrace -d /dev/nvme1n1 -w 60

In the end of blktrace, you can discover some new files has created by blktrace and its prefix name is nvme1n1.blktrac.xx The number of files is depends how may CPUs in your system.

-rw-r--r--  1 root     root         821152 Jun  2 10:39 nvme1n1.blktrace.0
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 21044368 Jun 2 10:39 nvme1n1.blktrace.1
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 462864 Jun 2 10:39 nvme1n1.blktrace.10
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 737960 Jun 2 10:39 nvme1n1.blktrace.11
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 865872 Jun 2 10:39 nvme1n1.blktrace.12
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 755248 Jun 2 10:39 nvme1n1.blktrace.13
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 4675176 Jun 2 10:39 nvme1n1.blktrace.14
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 4471480 Jun 2 10:39 nvme1n1.blktrace.15
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 5070264 Jun 2 10:39 nvme1n1.blktrace.16
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 5075040 Jun 2 10:39 nvme1n1.blktrace.17
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 5062104 Jun 2 10:39 nvme1n1.blktrace.18
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 5586936 Jun 2 10:39 nvme1n1.blktrace.19
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 3718848 Jun 2 10:39 nvme1n1.blktrace.2


Now, we can use the blkparse to regenerate human-readable output form the output we get via blktrace before.

We need to indicate source files, you can just use the device name without .blktrace.xx, for example, nvmen1, it will search all files which match the pattern nvmen1.blktrace.xx and put together to analyze. Then, the -f option used to foramt the output data, you can find more about it via man blkparse

The output from blkparse can be tailored for specific use -- in particular, to ease parsing of output, and/or limit output fields to those the user wants to see. The data for fields which can be output include:

a Action, a (small) string (1 or 2 characters) -- see table below for more details

c CPU id

C Command

d RWBS field, a (small) string (1-3 characters) -- see section below for more details

D 7-character string containing the major and minor numbers of the event's device (separated by a comma).

e Error value

m Minor number of event's device.

M Major number of event's device.

n Number of blocks

N Number of bytes

p Process ID

P Display packet data -- series of hexadecimal values

s Sequence numbers

S Sector number

t Time stamp (nanoseconds)

T Time stamp (seconds)

u Elapsed value in microseconds (-t command line option)

U Payload unsigned integer

For our observation, we use %5T.%9t, %p, %C, %a, %S\n to format our result containing timestamp, command, process ID, action and sequence number.

Since the data I/O contains many action, such as complete, queued, inserted..ect. we can use option -a to filter actions, you can find more info via man blktrace. In this case, we use the write to filter the actions.

In the end, use the -o options to indicate the output file name.

barrier: barrier attribute
complete: completed by driver
fs: requests
issue: issued to driver
pc: packet command events
queue: queue operations
read: read traces
requeue: requeue operations
sync: synchronous attribute
write: write traces
notify: trace messages
drv_data: additional driver specific trace

The command will look like below and it will output the result to file output.txt.

blkparse nvme1n1 -f "%5T.%9t, %p, %C, %a, %S\n"  -a write -o output.txt

open the file, the result looks like

    0.000000000, 22890, fio, Q, 1720960
0.000001857, 22890, fio, G, 1720960
0.000005803, 22890, fio, I, 1720960
0.000009234, 22890, fio, D, 1720960
0.000036821, 0, swapper/0, C, 1996928
0.000067519, 22890, fio, Q, 1721088
0.000068538, 22890, fio, G, 1721088
0.000071531, 22890, fio, I, 1721088
0.000073102, 22890, fio, D, 1721088
0.000093464, 0, swapper/0, C, 1994624
0.000123806, 0, swapper/0, C, 1785472
0.000147436, 22892, fio, C, 1784576
0.000159977, 22891, fio, C, 1997312
0.000166653, 22891, fio, Q, 2006912
0.000167632, 22891, fio, G, 2006912
0.000169422, 22891, fio, I, 2006912
0.000171178, 22891, fio, D, 2006912
0.000188830, 22892, fio, Q, 1817728
0.000189783, 22892, fio, G, 1817728
0.000191405, 22892, fio, I, 1817728
0.000192830, 22892, fio, D, 1817728
0.000202367, 22891, fio, Q, 2007040
0.000203160, 22891, fio, G, 2007040
0.000205969, 22891, fio, I, 2007040
0.000207524, 22891, fio, D, 2007040
0.000227655, 22892, fio, Q, 1817856
0.000228457, 22892, fio, G, 1817856
0.000231936, 22892, fio, I, 1817856

Since the fio will fork to two process to handle the process, we use the grep to focus on one specific process (pid=22892).

grep "22892, fio" output.txt | more

Now, the result seems good, we can discover the sequence number (fifth column) is increasing. One thing we need to care about is the row which action is "C", which means the completed, since we don't know how NVME handle those request and reply to upper layer. we only need to focus on other action. such as "Q (queued This notes intent to queue i/o at the given location. No real requests exists yet.)" or "I (inserted A request is being sent to the i/o scheduler for addition to the internal queue and later service by the driver. The request is fully formed at this time)".

    0.000147436, 22892, fio, C, 1784576
0.000188830, 22892, fio, Q, 1817728
0.000189783, 22892, fio, G, 1817728
0.000191405, 22892, fio, I, 1817728
0.000192830, 22892, fio, D, 1817728
0.000227655, 22892, fio, Q, 1817856
0.000228457, 22892, fio, G, 1817856
0.000231936, 22892, fio, I, 1817856
0.000233530, 22892, fio, D, 1817856
0.000360361, 22892, fio, Q, 1817984
0.000361310, 22892, fio, G, 1817984
0.000364163, 22892, fio, I, 1817984
0.000366696, 22892, fio, D, 1817984
0.000536731, 22892, fio, Q, 1818112
0.000537758, 22892, fio, G, 1818112
0.000539371, 22892, fio, I, 1818112
0.000541407, 22892, fio, D, 1818112
0.000670209, 22892, fio, Q, 1818240
0.000671345, 22892, fio, G, 1818240
0.000673383, 22892, fio, I, 1818240
0.000676260, 22892, fio, D, 1818240
0.001885543, 22892, fio, Q, 1818368
0.001887444, 22892, fio, G, 1818368
0.001891353, 22892, fio, I, 1818368
0.001895917, 22892, fio, D, 1818368
0.001934546, 22892, fio, Q, 1818496
0.001935468, 22892, fio, G, 1818496
0.001936891, 22892, fio, I, 1818496
0.001938742, 22892, fio, D, 1818496
0.001965818, 22892, fio, Q, 1818624

Now, we can do all above command again and change the section to rw for fio using the randon write pattern. The blkparse result will show the random sequence number.


In this article, we try to use tools blktrace and blkparse to analysiz the block level I/O for fio request. We observe the filed sequence number to make sure thhat the fio can generate the sequence or random according to its config.