Sascha Silbe writes:

> I've examined memory usage of long running processes (i.e. daemons
> and applications) in the past, no problems. But for my VCS comparison
> I need to determine the peak memory usage of all child processes
> (combined), which are rather short-lived. What's the best way to do
> that?

atop, vmstat, sar, pidstat, sa, accton

> Performance is an issue as the benchmark already takes 13h to run
> on a sample set of 100 Project Gutenberg files (originally I had
> a sample size of ~800 files). That probably rules out valgrind
> (AFAIK it incurs quite a performance penalty)...

Never rule out valgrind. Find a way. Valgrind supports tools that
you can use to discover where you suffer from cache line misses.
Valgrind finds any use of uninitialized memory.

Also consider using oprofile, or at least gprof.
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