CPU Utilization

Metric Description

This metric evaluates the parallel efficiency of your application. It estimates the percentage of all the logical CPU cores in the system that is used by your application -- without including the overhead introduced by the parallel runtime system. 100% utilization means that your application keeps all the logical CPU cores busy for the entire time that it runs.

Depending on the analysis type, you can see the CPU Utilization data in the Bottom-up grid (HPC Performance Characterization), on the Timeline pane, and in the Summary window on the Effective CPU Utilization histogram:

For the histogram, the Intel® VTune™ Amplifier identifies a processor utilization scale, calculates the target CPU utilization, and defines default utilization ranges depending on the number of processor cores. You can change the utilization ranges by dragging the sliders, if required.

Utilization Type

Default color



Idle utilization. By default, if the CPU Time on all threads is less than 0.5 of 100% CPU Time on 1 core, such CPU utilization is classified as idle. Formula: i=1,ThreadsCount(CPUTime(T,i)/T) < 0.5, where CPUTime(T,i) is the total CPU Time on thread i on interval T.


Poor utilization. By default, poor utilization is when the number of simultaneously running CPUs is less than or equal to 50% of the target CPU utilization.


Acceptable (OK) utilization. By default, OK usage is when the number of simultaneously running CPUs is between 51-85% of the target CPU utilization.


Ideal utilization. By default, Ideal utilization is when the number of simultaneously running CPUs is between 86-100% of the target CPU utilization.

VTune Amplifier treats the Spin and Overhead time as Idle CPU utilization. Different analysis types may recognize Spin and Overhead time differently depending on availability of call stack information. This may result in a difference of CPU Utilization graphical representation per analysis type.

For the HPC Performance Characterization analysis, the VTune Amplifier differentiates Effective Physical Core Utilization vs. Effective Logical Core Utilization for all systems other than Intel® Xeon Phi™ processors code named Knights Mill and Knights Landing.

For Intel® Xeon Phi™ processors code named Knights Mill and Knights Landing, as well as systems with Intel Hyper-Threading Technology (Intel HT Technology) OFF, only generic Effective CPU Utilization metric is provided.

CPU Utilization vs. Thread Efficiency

CPU Utilization may be higher than the Thread Efficiency (available for Threading analysis) if a thread is executing code on a CPU while it is logically waiting (that is, the thread is spinning).

CPU Utilization may be lower than the Thread Efficiency if:

  1. The concurrency level is higher than the number of available cores (oversubscription) and, thus, reaching this level of CPU utilization is not possible. Generally, large oversubscription negatively impacts the application performance since it causes excessive context switching.

  2. There was a period when the profiled process was swapped out. Thus, while it was not logically waiting, it was not scheduled for any CPU either.

Possible Issues

The metric value is low, which may signal a poor logical CPU cores utilization caused by load imbalance, threading runtime overhead, contended synchronization, or thread/process underutilization. Explore CPU Utilization sub-metrics to estimate the efficiency of MPI and OpenMP parallelism or run the Threading analysis to identify parallel bottlenecks for other parallel runtimes.

For more complete information about compiler optimizations, see our Optimization Notice.
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