16.5. Timestamp Queries

Timestamps provide applications with a mechanism for timing the execution of commands. A timestamp is an integer value generated by the VkPhysicalDevice. Unlike other queries, timestamps do not operate over a range, and so do not use vkCmdBeginQuery or vkCmdEndQuery. The mechanism is built around a set of commands that allow the application to tell the VkPhysicalDevice to write timestamp values to a query pool and then either read timestamp values on the host (using vkGetQueryPoolResults) or copy timestamp values to a VkBuffer (using vkCmdCopyQueryPoolResults). The application can then compute differences between timestamps to determine execution time.

The number of valid bits in a timestamp value is determined by the VkQueueFamilyProperties::timestampValidBits property of the queue on which the timestamp is written. Timestamps are supported on any queue which reports a non-zero value for timestampValidBits via vkGetPhysicalDeviceQueueFamilyProperties. If the timestampComputeAndGraphics limit is VK_TRUE, timestamps are supported by every queue family that supports either graphics or compute operations (see VkQueueFamilyProperties).

The number of nanoseconds it takes for a timestamp value to be incremented by 1 can be obtained from VkPhysicalDeviceLimits::timestampPeriod after a call to vkGetPhysicalDeviceProperties.

A timestamp is requested by calling:


void vkCmdWriteTimestamp(
    VkCommandBuffer                             commandBuffer,
    VkPipelineStageFlagBits                     pipelineStage,
    VkQueryPool                                 queryPool,
    uint32_t                                    query);

vkCmdWriteTimestamp latches the value of the timer when all previous commands have completed executing as far as the specified pipeline stage, and writes the timestamp value to memory. When the timestamp value is written, the availability status of the query is set to available.


If an implementation is unable to detect completion and latch the timer at any specific stage of the pipeline, it may instead do so at any logically later stage.

vkCmdCopyQueryPoolResults can then be called to copy the timestamp value from the query pool into buffer memory, with ordering and synchronization behavior equivalent to how other queries operate. Timestamp values can also be retrieved from the query pool using vkGetQueryPoolResults. As with other queries, the query must be reset using vkCmdResetQueryPool before requesting the timestamp value be written to it.

While vkCmdWriteTimestamp can be called inside or outside of a render pass instance, vkCmdCopyQueryPoolResults must only be called outside of a render pass instance.