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New Tool for Debugging Parallel Applications in Visual Studio 11

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Microsoft has released the Parallel Visualization Pack for Visual Studio 11 Developer Preview. Built to extend the functionality of the new Parallel Watch Window, the pack includes visual tools to aid in debugging multithreaded applications.

The Parallel Watch Window allows developers to view objects and values across all the threads in an application. Threads can be sorted, flagged or frozen while the rest of the application executes. The Visualization Pack adds a set of four visualizers to the Parallel Watch Window:

Heat Map
The Heat Map displays values on either a clustered, linear or logarithmic scale, to help spot uneven distribution of data across threads.

A graph that groups the value of an expression with the number of occurrences across threads. It also allows the user to display any undefined values in the application.

This visualizer creates a graph of data on an x-y axis to help spot outliers.

Object Expander
The Object Expander lets the user drill down into all the members of an object in the Parallel Watch Window, and compare the values across threads. Values or entire threads can be flagged and sorted. Default selections include max, min, unique, and undefined values.

The visualizers are intended for applications with extremely high numbers of parallel threads, especially those on GPUs. They work with any language in Visual Studio 11 that supports the use of the debugging window.

The Parallel Visualization Pack is available for download from the Visual Studio Library.

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