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Runtime statistics

mbed OS 5 provides various runtime statistics to help characterize resource usage. This allows easy identification of potential problems, such as a stack close to overflowing. The metrics currently supported are available for the heap and the stack.

Heap statistics

Heap statistics provide exact information about the number of bytes dynamically allocated by a program. It does not take into account heap fragmentation or allocation overhead. This allows allocation size reports to remain consistent, regardless of order of allocation (fragmentation) or allocation algorithm (overhead).

To enable heap stats:

  1. Add the command-line flag -DMBED_HEAP_STATS_ENABLED=1.
  2. Use the function mbed_stats_heap_get() to take a snapshot of heap stats.

Note: This function is available even when the heap stats are not enabled, but always returns zero for all fields.

Example use cases

  • Getting worst case memory usage, max_size, to properly size MCU RAM.
  • Detecting program memory leaks by the current size allocated (current_size) or number of allocations in use (alloc_cnt).
  • Use alloc_fail_cnt to check if allocations have been failing, and if so, how many.

Example program using heap statistics

#include "mbed.h"
#include "mbed_stats.h"

int main(void)
    mbed_stats_heap_t heap_stats;

    printf("Starting heap stats example\r\n");

    void *allocation = malloc(1000);
    printf("Freeing 1000 bytes\r\n");

    printf("Current heap: %lu\r\n", heap_stats.current_size);
    printf("Max heap size: %lu\r\n", heap_stats.max_size);


    printf("Current heap after: %lu\r\n", heap_stats.current_size);
    printf("Max heap size after: %lu\r\n", heap_stats.max_size);

Side effects of enabling heap statistics

  • An additional 8 bytes of overhead for each memory allocation.
  • The function realloc will never reuse the buffer it is resizing.
  • Memory allocation is slightly slower due to the added bookkeeping.

Stack statistics

Stack stats provide information on the allocated stack size of a thread and the worst case stack usage. Any thread on the system can be queried for stack information.

To enable heap stats, add the command-line flag -DMBED_STACK_STATS_ENABLED=1.

There are two functions you can use to access the stack stats:

  • mbed_stats_stack_get calculates combined stack informations for all threads.
  • mbed_stats_stack_get_each provides stack informations for each thread separately.

Note: These functions are available even when the stack stats are not enabled but always return zero for all fields.

Example use cases

  • Using max_size to calibrate stack sizes for each thread.
  • Detecting which stack is close to overflowing.

Example program using stack statistics

#include "mbed.h"
#include "mbed_stats.h"

int main(void)
    printf("Starting stack stats example\r\n");

    int cnt = osThreadGetCount();
    mbed_stats_stack_t *stats = (mbed_stats_stack_t*) malloc(cnt * sizeof(mbed_stats_stack_t));

    cnt = mbed_stats_stack_get_each(stats, cnt);
    for (int i = 0; i < cnt; i++) {
        printf("Thread: 0x%X, Stack size: %u, Max stack: %u\r\n", stats[i].thread_id, stats[i].reserved_size, stats[i].max_size);