HIP Debugging#

There are some techniques provided in HIP for developers to trace and debug codes during execution, this section describes some details and practical suggestions on debugging.

Debugging tools#

Using ltrace#

ltrace is a standard linux tool which provides a message to stderr on every dynamic library call. Since ROCr and the ROCt (the ROC thunk, which is the thin user-space interface to the ROC kernel driver) are both dynamic libraries, this provides an easy way to trace the activity in these libraries. Tracing can be a powerful way to quickly observe the flow of the application before diving into the details with a command-line debugger. ltrace is a helpful tool to visualize the runtime behavior of the entire ROCm software stack. The trace can also show performance issues related to accidental calls to expensive API calls on the critical path.

Here’s a simple sample with command-line to trace hip APIs and output:

$ ltrace -C -e "hip*" ./hipGetChanDesc
hipGetChanDesc->hipCreateChannelDesc(0x7ffdc4b66860, 32, 0, 0) = 0x7ffdc4b66860
hipGetChanDesc->hipMallocArray(0x7ffdc4b66840, 0x7ffdc4b66860, 8, 8) = 0
hipGetChanDesc->hipGetChannelDesc(0x7ffdc4b66848, 0xa63990, 5, 1) = 0
hipGetChanDesc->hipFreeArray(0xa63990, 0, 0x7f8c7fe13778, 0x7ffdc4b66848) = 0
+++ exited (status 0) +++

Another sample below with command-line only trace hsa APIs and output:

$ ltrace -C -e "hsa*" ./hipGetChanDesc
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_init(0, 0x7fff325a69d0, 0x9c80e0, 0 <unfinished ...>
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtOpenKFD(0x7fff325a6590, 0x9c38c0, 0, 1) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtGetVersion(0x7fff325a6608, 0, 0, 0) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtReleaseSystemProperties(3, 0x80084b01, 0, 0) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtAcquireSystemProperties(0x7fff325a6610, 0, 0, 1) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtGetNodeProperties(0, 0x7fff325a66a0, 0, 0) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtGetNodeMemoryProperties(0, 1, 0x9c42b0, 0x936012) = 0
<... hsaKmtCreateEvent resumed> )                = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtAllocMemory(0, 4096, 64, 0x7fff325a6690) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtMapMemoryToGPUNodes(0x7f1202749000, 4096, 0x7fff325a6690, 0) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtCreateEvent(0x7fff325a6700, 0, 0, 0x7fff325a66f0) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtAllocMemory(1, 0x100000000, 576, 0x7fff325a67d8) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtAllocMemory(0, 8192, 64, 0x7fff325a6790) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtMapMemoryToGPUNodes(0x7f120273c000, 8192, 0x7fff325a6790, 0) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtAllocMemory(0, 4096, 4160, 0x7fff325a6450) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtMapMemoryToGPUNodes(0x7f120273a000, 4096, 0x7fff325a6450, 0) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtSetTrapHandler(1, 0x7f120273a000, 4096, 0x7f120273c000) = 0
<... hsa_init resumed> )                         = 0
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_system_get_major_extension_table(513, 1, 24, 0x7f1202597930) = 0
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_iterate_agents(0x7f120171f050, 0, 0x7fff325a67f8, 0 <unfinished ...>
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_agent_get_info(0x94f110, 17, 0x7fff325a67e8, 0) = 0
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_amd_agent_iterate_memory_pools(0x94f110, 0x7f1201722816, 0x7fff325a67f0, 0x7f1201722816 <unfinished ...>
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_amd_memory_pool_get_info(0x9c7fb0, 0, 0x7fff325a6744, 0x7fff325a67f0) = 0
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_amd_memory_pool_get_info(0x9c7fb0, 1, 0x7fff325a6748, 0x7f1200d82df4) = 0
<... hsa_amd_agent_iterate_memory_pools resumed> ) = 0
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_agent_get_info(0x9dbf30, 17, 0x7fff325a67e8, 0) = 0
<... hsa_iterate_agents resumed> )               = 0
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_agent_get_info(0x9dbf30, 0, 0x7fff325a6850, 3) = 0
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_agent_get_info(0x9dbf30, 0xa000, 0x9e7cd8, 0) = 0
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_agent_iterate_isas(0x9dbf30, 0x7f1201720411, 0x7fff325a6760, 0x7f1201720411) = 0
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_isa_get_info_alt(0x94e7c8, 0, 0x7fff325a6728, 1) = 0
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_isa_get_info_alt(0x94e7c8, 1, 0x9e7f90, 0) = 0
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_agent_get_info(0x9dbf30, 4, 0x9e7ce8, 0) = 0
<... hsa_amd_memory_pool_allocate resumed> )     = 0
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_ext_image_create(0x9dbf30, 0xa1c4c8, 0x7f10f2800000, 3 <unfinished ...>
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtAllocMemory(0, 4096, 64, 0x7fff325a6740) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtQueryPointerInfo(0x7f1202736000, 0x7fff325a65e0, 0, 0) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtMapMemoryToGPUNodes(0x7f1202736000, 4096, 0x7fff325a66e8, 0) = 0
<... hsa_ext_image_create resumed> )             = 0
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_ext_image_destroy(0x9dbf30, 0x7f1202736000, 0x9dbf30, 0 <unfinished ...>
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtUnmapMemoryToGPU(0x7f1202736000, 0x7f1202736000, 4096, 0x9c8050) = 0
libhsa-runtime64.so.1->hsaKmtFreeMemory(0x7f1202736000, 4096, 0, 0) = 0
<... hsa_ext_image_destroy resumed> )            = 0
libamdhip64.so.4->hsa_amd_memory_pool_free(0x7f10f2800000, 0x7f10f2800000, 256, 0x9e76f0) = 0

Using ROCgdb#

HIP developers on ROCm can use AMD’s ROCgdb for debugging and profiling. ROCgdb is the ROCm source-level debugger for Linux, based on GDB, the GNU source-level debugger, equivalent of cuda-gdb, can be used with debugger frontends, such as eclipse, vscode, or gdb-dashboard. For details, see (https://github.com/ROCm-Developer-Tools/ROCgdb).

Below is a sample how to use ROCgdb run and debug HIP application, rocgdb is installed with ROCM package in the folder /opt/rocm/bin.

$ export PATH=$PATH:/opt/rocm/bin
$ rocgdb ./hipTexObjPitch
GNU gdb (rocm-dkms-no-npi-hipclang-6549) 10.1
Copyright (C) 2020 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <http://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>
For bug reporting instructions, please see:
Find the GDB manual and other documentation resources online at:

Reading symbols from ./hipTexObjPitch...
(gdb) break main
Breakpoint 1 at 0x4013d1: file /home/test/hip/tests/src/texture/hipTexObjPitch.cpp, line 98.
(gdb) run
Starting program: /home/test/hip/build/directed_tests/texture/hipTexObjPitch
[Thread debugging using libthread_db enabled]
Using host libthread_db library "/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libthread_db.so.1".

Breakpoint 1, main ()
    at /home/test/hip/tests/src/texture/hipTexObjPitch.cpp:98
98	    texture2Dtest<float>();

Other Debugging Tools#

There are also other debugging tools available online developers can google and choose the one best suits the debugging requirements. For example, Microsoft Visual Studio and Windgb tools are options on Windows.

Debugging HIP Applications#

Below is an example on Linux to show how to get useful information from the debugger while running a simple memory copy test, which caused an issue of segmentation fault.

test: simpleTest2<?> numElements=4194304 sizeElements=4194304 bytes
Segmentation fault (core dumped)

(gdb) run
Starting program: /home/test/hipamd/build/directed_tests/runtimeApi/memory/hipMemcpy_simple
[Thread debugging using libthread_db enabled]
Using host libthread_db library "/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libthread_db.so.1".

Breakpoint 1, main (argc=1, argv=0x7fffffffdea8)
    at /home/test/hip/tests/src/runtimeApi/memory/hipMemcpy_simple.cpp:147
147     int main(int argc, char* argv[]) {
(gdb) c
[New Thread 0x7ffff64c4700 (LWP 146066)]

Thread 1 "hipMemcpy_simpl" received signal SIGSEGV, Segmentation fault.
0x000000000020f78e in simpleTest2<float> (numElements=4194304, usePinnedHost=true)
    at /home/test/hip/tests/src/runtimeApi/memory/hipMemcpy_simple.cpp:104
104             A_h1[i] = 3.14f + 1000 * i;
(gdb) bt
#0  0x000000000020f78e in simpleTest2<float> (numElements=4194304, usePinnedHost=true)
    at /home/test/hip/tests/src/runtimeApi/memory/hipMemcpy_simple.cpp:104
#1  0x000000000020e96c in main (argc=<optimized out>, argv=<optimized out>)
    at /home/test/hip/tests/src/runtimeApi/memory/hipMemcpy_simple.cpp:163
(gdb) info thread
  Id   Target Id                                            Frame
* 1    Thread 0x7ffff64c5880 (LWP 146060) "hipMemcpy_simpl" 0x000000000020f78e in simpleTest2<float> (numElements=4194304, usePinnedHost=true)
    at /home/test/hip/tests/src/runtimeApi/memory/hipMemcpy_simple.cpp:104
  2    Thread 0x7ffff64c4700 (LWP 146066) "hipMemcpy_simpl" 0x00007ffff6b0850b in ioctl
    () from /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libc.so.6
(gdb) thread 2
[Switching to thread 2 (Thread 0x7ffff64c4700 (LWP 146066))]
#0  0x00007ffff6b0850b in ioctl () from /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libc.so.6
(gdb) bt
#0  0x00007ffff6b0850b in ioctl () from /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libc.so.6
#1  0x00007ffff6604568 in ?? () from /opt/rocm/lib/libhsa-runtime64.so.1
#2  0x00007ffff65fe73a in ?? () from /opt/rocm/lib/libhsa-runtime64.so.1
#3  0x00007ffff659e4d6 in ?? () from /opt/rocm/lib/libhsa-runtime64.so.1
#4  0x00007ffff65807de in ?? () from /opt/rocm/lib/libhsa-runtime64.so.1
#5  0x00007ffff65932a2 in ?? () from /opt/rocm/lib/libhsa-runtime64.so.1
#6  0x00007ffff654f547 in ?? () from /opt/rocm/lib/libhsa-runtime64.so.1
#7  0x00007ffff7f76609 in start_thread () from /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libpthread.so.0
#8  0x00007ffff6b13293 in clone () from /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libc.so.6
(gdb) thread 1
[Switching to thread 1 (Thread 0x7ffff64c5880 (LWP 146060))]
#0  0x000000000020f78e in simpleTest2<float> (numElements=4194304, usePinnedHost=true)
    at /home/test/hip/tests/src/runtimeApi/memory/hipMemcpy_simple.cpp:104
104             A_h1[i] = 3.14f + 1000 * i;
(gdb) bt
#0  0x000000000020f78e in simpleTest2<float> (numElements=4194304, usePinnedHost=true)
    at /home/test/hip/tests/src/runtimeApi/memory/hipMemcpy_simple.cpp:104
#1  0x000000000020e96c in main (argc=<optimized out>, argv=<optimized out>)
    at /home/test/hip/tests/src/runtimeApi/memory/hipMemcpy_simple.cpp:163

On Windows, debugging HIP applications on IDE like Microsoft Visual Studio tools, are more informative and visible to debug codes, inspect variables, watch multiple details and examine the call stacks.

Useful Environment Variables#

HIP provides some environment variables which allow HIP, hip-clang, or HSA driver on Linux to disable some feature or optimization. These are not intended for production but can be useful diagnose synchronization problems in the application (or driver).

Some of the most useful environment variables are described here. They are supported on the ROCm path on Linux and Windows as well.

Kernel Enqueue Serialization#

Developers can control kernel command serialization from the host using the environment variable,

AMD_SERIALIZE_KERNEL, for serializing kernel enqueue. AMD_SERIALIZE_KERNEL = 1, Wait for completion before enqueue, AMD_SERIALIZE_KERNEL = 2, Wait for completion after enqueue, AMD_SERIALIZE_KERNEL = 3, Both.

Or AMD_SERIALIZE_COPY, for serializing copies.

AMD_SERIALIZE_COPY = 1, Wait for completion before enqueue, AMD_SERIALIZE_COPY = 2, Wait for completion after enqueue, AMD_SERIALIZE_COPY = 3, Both.

So HIP runtime can wait for GPU idle before/after any GPU command depending on the environment setting.

Making Device visible#

For system with multiple devices, it’s possible to make only certain device(s) visible to HIP via setting environment variable, HIP_VISIBLE_DEVICES(or CUDA_VISIBLE_DEVICES on Nvidia platform), only devices whose index is present in the sequence are visible to HIP.

For example,


or in the application,

if (totalDeviceNum > 2) {
  setenv("HIP_VISIBLE_DEVICES", "0,1,2", 1);
  assert(getDeviceNumber(false) == 3);
  ... ...

Dump code object#

Developers can dump code object to analyze compiler related issues via setting environment variable, GPU_DUMP_CODE_OBJECT

Summary of environment variables in HIP#

The following is the summary of the most useful environment variables in HIP.

Environment variable

Default value


Enable HIP log on different Level.


0: Disable log.
1: Enable log on error level.
2: Enable log on warning and below levels.
0x3: Enable log on information and below levels.
0x4: Decode and display AQL packets.

Enable HIP log on different Level.


0x1: Log API calls.
0x02: Kernel and Copy Commands and Barriers.
0x4: Synchronization and waiting for commands to finish.
0x8: Enable log on information and below levels.
0x20: Queue commands and queue contents.
0x40:Signal creation, allocation, pool.
0x80: Locks and thread-safety code.
0x100: Copy debug.
0x200: Detailed copy debug.
0x400: Resource allocation, performance-impacting events.
0x800: Initialization and shutdown.
0x1000: Misc debug, not yet classified.
0x2000: Show raw bytes of AQL packet.
0x4000: Show code creation debug.
0x8000: More detailed command info, including barrier commands.
0x10000: Log message location.
0xFFFFFFFF: Log always even mask flag is zero.

Only devices whose index is present in the sequence are visible to HIP.

0,1,2: Depending on the number of devices on the system.

Dump code object.


0: Disable.
1: Enable.

Serialize kernel enqueue.


1: Wait for completion before enqueue.
2: Wait for completion after enqueue.
3: Both.

Serialize copies.


1: Wait for completion before enqueue.
2: Wait for completion after enqueue.
3: Both.

Coherent memory in hipHostMalloc.


0: memory is not coherent between host and GPU.
1: memory is coherent with host.

Enable direct kernel dispatch (Currently for Linux, under development on Windows).


0: Disable.
1: Enable.

The maximum number of hardware queues allocated per device.


The variable controls how many independent hardware queues HIP runtime can create per process, per device. If application allocates more HIP streams than this number, then HIP runtime will reuse the same hardware queues for the new streams in round robin manner. Please note, this maximum number does not apply to either hardware queues that are created for CU masked HIP streams, or cooperative queue for HIP Cooperative Groups (there is only one single queue per device).

General Debugging Tips#

  • ‘gdb –args’ can be used to conveniently pass the executable and arguments to gdb.

  • From inside GDB on Linux, you can set environment variables “set env”. Note the command does not use an ‘=’ sign:

(gdb) set env AMD_SERIALIZE_KERNEL 3
  • The fault will be caught by the runtime but was actually generated by an asynchronous command running on the GPU. So, the GDB backtrace will show a path in the runtime.

  • To determine the true location of the fault, force the kernels to execute synchronously by seeing the environment variables AMD_SERIALIZE_KERNEL=3 AMD_SERIALIZE_COPY=3. This will force HIP runtime to wait for the kernel to finish executing before retuning. If the fault occurs during the execution of a kernel, you can see the code which launched the kernel inside the backtrace. A bit of guesswork is required to determine which thread is actually causing the issue - typically it will the thread which is waiting inside the libhsa-runtime64.so.

  • VM faults inside kernels can be caused by:

    • incorrect code (ie a for loop which extends past array boundaries),

    • memory issues - kernel arguments which are invalid (null pointers, unregistered host pointers, bad pointers),

    • synchronization issues,

    • compiler issues (incorrect code generation from the compiler),

    • runtime issues.