Configure → PCP Data collection

This section gives example configuration settings for Performance Co-Pilot (PCP) running on the compute nodes of an HPC cluster. These configuration guidelines are based on the PCP data collection setup at CCR buffalo, which uses PCP version 4.3.2 that is supplied with Centos 7.


PCP should be installed on every compute node as described in the install section.


After the PCP software has been installed on each compute node it should be configured so that data are collected:

  • At the start of every job
  • 10, 20 and 30 seconds after job start
  • Periodically during the job (recommended 30 seconds)
  • At the end of every job

The archive data for each node needs to be readable by the job summarization software process. We recommend that the archive data is stored on a shared filesystem such as a parallel filesystem or network attached storage.

In order to constrain the number of files in a given directory, we recommend storing the archives in a directory structure that includes the hostname and the date in different subdirectories. The recommended directory path is:


Where YYYY is the 4 digit year, MM 2 digit month, DD is the 2 digit day of the month and HOSTNAME is the hostname of the compute node. The two main reasons for storing the data in this way are (1) to minimize the number of files per directory and (2) to reduce the I/O of the summarization software’s indexing script. The indexing script is designed to run daily and scans the filesystem for new PCP archives. The script is able to exclude old directories from processing based on the timestamp. This reduces the amount of I/O since only candidate directories are scanned.

In previous versions of the summarization software the recommended path was:


this directory structure is still supported by the indexing script and may still be used. The reason for changing the recommendation is that the new directory structure limits the total number of files under a given directory. This helps reduce the runtime of backup software. If the filesystem I/O performance with the existing directory structure is not an issue then there is no need to change to the new one.

Configuration Templates

The Job Summarization software includes template files that can be used to configure PCP collection on the compute nodes. The package itself should not be installed on the compute nodes, however you may wish to install it on a test node in order to obtain the PCP configuration file templates. Alternatively, the scripts may be extracted directly from the source tar file or from the github repository.

The PCP configuration templates are applicable to PCP version 4.3.2 that is supplied with Centos 7 and may need to be modified to work with more recent versions of the PCP software.

The template files must be edited before use.

These templates are available:


This template file must be edited to specify the path to the directory where the PCP archives are to be saved.

The path PCP_LOG_DIR/pmlogger should be changed to the path where the PCP archives are to be saved.

The edited template should be saved in the /etc/pcp/pmlogger directory and any existing files under /etc/pcp/pmlogger/control.d must be removed to ensure that there is only one primary logger configured.

Note that the string LOCALHOSTNAME in the file is expanded by the pcp logger software to the hostname of the compute node running the logger.

The template includes the following directive that disables the compression behavior so that the archive files do not get compressed while the summarization software is processing them:


The template also specifies the -T24h10m` option to the pmlogger process to ensure new log files are created every day.


  • Moved to /etc/pcp/pmlogger
  • Can be updated to change metrics logged or frequency
    • You may wish to reduce logging frequency from the default 30 seconds until confirming impact on your system and storage utilization


This is a template perl script that must be edited. The string /<GLOBAL_SHARED_SPACE>/supremm/pmlogger must be changed to match the directory where the PCP archives are to be saved. This script will run data collection at job start time and three additional samples at ten second intervals. This script should be merged into your existing prologue script. This script is designed for and tested with the Slurm resource manager.


This is a template perl script that must be edited. The string /<GLOBAL_SHARED_SPACE>/supremm/pmlogger must be changed to match the directory where the PCP archives are to be saved. This script will run data collection at job end. This script should be merged into your existing epilogue script. This script is designed for and tested with the Slurm resource manager.


  • Moved to /var/lib/pcp/pmdas/proc

This configuration file sets the parameters for process logging into the pcp archives. It prevents the logging of system processes, unless they consume significant resources. This will reduce disk usage by the pcp archives.

Enable logging modules (PMDAs)

By default, in order to be lightweight, PCP does not enable all logging modules (PMDAs) They may be enabled by creating a “.NeedInstall” file in the PMDA directory. The presence of this file causes the PCP framework to enable the PMDA on next restart (systemctl restart pmcd).

The PMDAs that should be enabled will depend on the architecture of your cluster. For example, if you have a Lustre filesystem then enable the Lustre PMDA, if you mount filesystems over NFS then enable the nfsclient PMDA.

$ touch /var/lib/pcp/pmdas/nvidia/.NeedInstall
$ touch /var/lib/pcp/pmdas/gpfs/.NeedInstall
$ touch /var/lib/pcp/pmdas/nfsclient/.NeedInstall
$ touch /var/lib/pcp/pmdas/perfevent/.NeedInstall
$ touch /var/lib/pcp/pmdas/mic/.NeedInstall
$ touch /var/lib/pcp/pmdas/libvirt/.NeedInstall

Configure Global Process Capture

By default, PCP does not allow the capture of process information for all users. XDMoD can display process information only if the pcp user is permitted to log this information from each compute host. See the relevant documentation in man pmdaproc. To enable this, you must add the -A flag to the pmdaproc line in /etc/pcp/pmcd/pmcd.conf like so:

proc	3	pipe	binary 		/var/lib/pcp/pmdas/proc/pmdaproc  -A

Disable daily archive rollup

PCP supports automatically compressing archives after they are created to save disk space. The summarization software can read both compressed and uncompressed archives. However there is a potential race condition with the archive compression running at the same time as the job summarization software runs. At CCR we disable the compression with the following directive set in the pmlogger control file /etc/pmlogger/control


Restart PMCD

After making configuration changes to the PMDAs, you will need to restart the pmcd service. On a systemd enabled system, this can be done with:

$ systemctl restart pmcd pmlogger

Archive management notes

Once the job summarization software has generated a record for a job then the PCP archives are no longer required and could be deleted to save disk space. Jobs are summarized after the job accounting information has been ingested into XDMoD and this happens after they complete. So the minimum amount of time to keep archives is the maximum permissable HPC job wall time plus the latency between a job ending and it appearing in XDMoD.