OpenMP* Analysis from the Command Line

Use the Intel® VTune™ Amplifier command line interface for performance analysis of OpenMP* applications compiled with Intel® Compiler.


  • To analyze OpenMP parallel regions, make sure to compile and run your code with the Intel® Compiler 13.1 Update 2 or higher (part of the Intel Composer XE 2013 Update 2). If an obsolete version of the OpenMP runtime libraries is detected, VTune Amplifier provides a warning message. In this case the collection results may be incomplete.

    To access the newest OpenMP analysis options described in the documentation, make sure you always use the latest version of the Intel compiler.

  • On Linux*, to analyze an OpenMP application compiled with GCC*, make sure the GCC OpenMP library ( contains symbol information. To verify, search for and use the nm command to check symbols, for example:

    $ nm

    If the library does not contain any symbols, either install/compile a new library with symbols or generate debug information for the library. For example, on Fedora* you can install GCC debug information from the yum repository:

    $ yum install gcc-debuginfo.x86_64

OpenMP is a fork-join parallel model, which starts with an OpenMP program running with a single master serial-code thread. When a parallel region is encountered, that thread forks into multiple threads, which then execute the parallel region. At the end of the parallel region, the threads join at a barrier, and then the master thread continues executing serial code. It is possible to write an OpenMP program more like an MPI program, where the master thread immediately forks to a parallel region and constructs such as barrier and single are used for work coordination. But it is far more common for an OpenMP program to consist of a sequence of parallel regions interspersed with serial code.

Ideally, parallelized applications have working threads doing useful work from the beginning to the end of execution, utilizing 100% of available CPU core processing time. In real life, useful CPU utilization is likely to be less when working threads are waiting, either actively spinning (for performance, expecting to have a short wait) or waiting passively, not consuming CPU. There are several major reasons why working threads wait, not doing useful work:

  • Execution of serial portions (outside of any parallel region): When the master thread is executing a serial region, the worker threads are in the OpenMP runtime waiting for the next parallel region.

  • Load imbalance: When a thread finishes its part of workload in a parallel region, it waits at a barrier for the other threads to finish.

  • Not enough parallel work: The number of loop iterations is less than the number of working threads so several threads from the team are waiting at the barrier not doing useful work at all.

  • Synchronization on locks: When synchronization objects are used inside a parallel region, threads can wait on a lock release, contending with other threads for a shared resource.

VTune Amplifier together with Intel Composer XE 2013 Update 2 or higher help you understand how an application utilizes available CPUs and identify causes of CPU underutilization.

Configuring and Running an Analysis

Use the following syntax to run the OpenMP analysis from the command line:

amplxe-cl <action> <analysis_type> -knob analyze-openmp=true [[--] <target>]


  • <action> is the action to perform the analysis (collect or collect-with)
  • <analysis_type> is the type of analysis (predefined or custom)
  • <target> is the application to analyze


Only the following analysis types support OpenMP analysis: Hotspots, Threading, HPC Performance Characterization, Microarchitecture Exploration, Memory Access, or any Custom Analysis. The HPC Performance Characterization has this knob enabled by default.

You are recommended to run the HPC Performance Characterization analysis to analyze OpenMP applications. Unlike other analysis types, the HPC Performance Characterization analysis generates a summary report with OpenMP metrics and descriptions of detected performance issues.


The following command runs HPC Performance analysis (OpenMP analysis is enabled by default):

amplxe-cl -collect hpc-performance -- myApp

Viewing Summary Report Data

When the data collection is complete, the VTune Amplifier automatically generates the summary report. Similar to the Summary window, available in GUI, the summary report provides overall performance data of your target.

Use the following syntax to generate the Summary report from a preexisting result:

$ amplxe-cl -report summary -result-dir <result_path>

For HPC Performance Characterization analysis, the command-line summary report provides an issue description for metrics that exceed the predefined threshold. If you want to skip issues in the summary report, do one of the following:

  • Use the -report-knob show-issues=false option when generating the report, for example: $ amplxe-cl -report summary -r r001hpc -report-knob show-issues=false

  • Use the -format=csv option to view the report in the CSV format, for example: $ amplxe-cl -report summary -r r001hpc -format=csv

Explore the OpenMP Analysis section of the summary report for inefficiencies in parallelization of the application:

Serial Time: 0.069s (0.3%)
Parallel Region Time: 23.113s (99.7%)
    Estimated Ideal Time: 14.010s (60.4%)
    OpenMP Potential Gain: 9.103s (39.3%)
     | The time wasted on load imbalance or parallel work arrangement is
     | significant and negatively impacts the application performance and
     | scalability. Explore OpenMP regions with the highest metric values.
     | Make sure the workload of the regions is enough and the loop schedule
     | is optimal.

This section shows the Collection Time as well as the duration of serial (outside of any parallel region) and parallel portions of the program. If the serial portion is significant, consider options to minimize serial execution, either by introducing more parallelism or by doing algorithm or microarchitecture tuning for sections that seem unavoidably serial. For high thread-count machines, serial sections have a severe negative impact on potential scaling (Amdahl's Law) and should be minimized as much as possible.

Estimating Potential Gain

To estimate the efficiency of CPU utilization in the parallel part of the code, use the Potential Gain metric. This metric estimates the difference in the Elapsed time between the actual measurement and an idealized execution of parallel regions, assuming perfectly balanced threads and zero overhead of the OpenMP runtime on work arrangement. Use this data to understand the maximum time that you may save by improving parallel execution.

Use the hotspots report to identify the hottest program units. Use the following command to list the top five parallel regions with the highest Potential Gain metric values:

$ amplxe-cl -report hotspots -result-dir r001hpc -group-by=region -sort-desc="OpenMP Potential Gain:Self" -column="OpenMP Potential Gain:Self" -limit 5


  • -report hotspots is the hotspots report type
  • -group-by=region is the action-option to group data in the report by OpenMP Regions
  • -sort-desc="OpenMP Potential Gain:Self" is the action-option to sort data by OpenMP Potential Gain in descending order
  • -column="OpenMP Potential Gain:Self" is the action-option to display only the OpenMP Potential Gain metric in the report
  • -limit 5 is the action-option to set the number of top items to include in the report

The command above produces the following output:

OpenMP Region                 OpenMP Potential Gain
----------------------------------------------------------------  ---------------------
compute_rhs_$omp$parallel:24@/root/work/apps/OMP/SP/rhs.f:17:433                 3.417s
x_solve_$omp$parallel:24@/root/work/apps/OMP/SP/x_solve.f:27:315                 0.920s
z_solve_$omp$parallel:24@/root/work/apps/OMP/SP/z_solve.f:31:321                 0.913s
y_solve_$omp$parallel:24@/root/work/apps/OMP/SP/y_solve.f:27:310                 0.806s
pinvr_$omp$parallel:24@/root/work/apps/OMP/SP/pinvr.f:20:41                      0.697s

If Potential Gain for a region is significant, you can go deeper and analyze inefficiency metrics like Imbalance by barriers. Use the following command:

amplxe-cl -report hotspots -result-dir r001hpc -group-by=region,barrier -sort-desc="OpenMP Potential Gain:Self" -column="OpenMP Potential Gain" -limit 5 


  • -report hotspots is the hotspots report type
  • -group-by=region, barrier is the action-option to group data in the report by OpenMP Regions and OpenMP Barrier-to-Barrier Segment
  • -sort-desc="OpenMP Potential Gain:Self" is the action-option to sort data by OpenMP Potential Gain in descending order
  • -column="OpenMP Potential Gain" is the action-option to display the metrics with OpenMP Potential Gain string (including OpenMP Potential Gain: Imbalance and others)
  • -limit 3 is the action-option to set the number of top items to include in the report

The command above produces the following output:

OpenMP Region                                                    OpenMP Barrier-to-Barrier Segment                                   OpenMP Potential Gain  OpenMP Potential Gain:Imbalance  OpenMP Potential Gain:Lock Contention  OpenMP Potential Gain:Creation  OpenMP Potential Gain:Scheduling  OpenMP Potential Gain:Reduction  OpenMP Potential Gain:Atomics   
---------------------------------------------------------------  ------------------------------------------------------------------  ---------------------  -------------------------------  -------------------------------------  ------------------------------  --------------------------------  -------------------------------  -----------------------------  
compute_rhs_$omp$parallel:24@/root/work/OMP/SP/rhs.f:17:433       compute_rhs_$omp$loop_barrier_segment@/root/work/OMP/SP/rhs.f:285                 0.985s                           0.982s                                     0s             0s                                0.000s                               0s                             0s 
x_solve_$omp$parallel:24@/home/root/work/OMP/SP/x_solve.f:27:315  x_solve_$omp$loop_barrier_segment@/root/work/OMP/SP/x_solve.f:315                 0.920s                           0.904s                                 0.012s         0.000s                            0.000s                               0s                             0s 
z_solve_$omp$parallel:24@/root/work/OMP/SP/z_solve.f:31:321       z_solve_$omp$loop_barrier_segment@/root/work/OMP/SP/z_solve.f:321                 0.913s                           0.910s                                 0.000s         0.000s                            0.000s                               0s                             0s 
y_solve_$omp$parallel:24@/root/work/OMP/SP/y_solve.f:27:310       y_solve_$omp$loop_barrier_segment@/root/work/OMP/SP/y_solve.f:310                 0.806s                           0.803s                                 0.000s         0.000s                                0s                               0s                             0s 

Analyze the OpenMP Potential Gain columns data that shows a breakdown of Potential Gain in the region by representing the cost (in elapsed time) of the inefficiencies with a normalization by the number of OpenMP threads. Elapsed time cost helps decide whether you need to invest into addressing a particular type of inefficiency. VTune Amplifier can recognize the following types of inefficiencies:

  • Imbalance: threads are finishing their work in different time and waiting on a barrier. If imbalance time is significant, try dynamic type of scheduling. Intel OpenMP runtime library from Intel Parallel Studio Composer Edition reports precise imbalance numbers and the metrics do not depend on statistical accuracy as other inefficiencies that are calculated based on sampling.

  • Lock Contention: threads are waiting on contended locks or "ordered" parallel loops. If the time of lock contention is significant, try to avoid synchronization inside a parallel construct with reduction operations, thread local storage usage, or less costly atomic operations for synchronization.

  • Creation: overhead on a parallel work arrangement. If the time for parallel work arrangement is significant, try to make parallelism more coarse-grain by moving parallel regions to an outer loop.

  • Scheduling: OpenMP runtime scheduler overhead on a parallel work assignment for working threads. If scheduling time is significant, which often happens for dynamic types of scheduling, you can use a "dynamic" schedule with a bigger chunk size or "guided" type of schedule.

  • Atomics: OpenMP runtime overhead on performing atomic operations.

  • Reduction: time spent on reduction operations.


VTune Amplifier supports the analysis of parallel OpenMP regions with the following limitations:

  • Maximum number of supported lexical parallel regions is 512, which means that no region annotations will be emitted for regions whose scope is reached after 512 other parallel regions are encountered.

  • Regions from nested parallelism are not supported. Only top-level items emit regions.

  • VTune Amplifier does not support static linkage of OpenMP libraries.

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