iCan Blog Archive

Back in the 6.1 release, IBM moved the Work with System Activity (WRKSYSACT) command from the Performance Tools licensed program product into the base operating system. WRKSYSACT has been around for a long time, but it has a few features that you may not be aware of.

Work with System Activity is a great tool for getting a basic understanding of what is happening on your partition in terms of performance. WRKSYSACT will show you jobs, threads, and tasks that are using system resources – CPU utilization, synchronous and asynchronous I/O, storage allocation information, etc. WRKSYSACT is the only green-screen command interface in the operating system where you will find information about system tasks. Other command interfaces – such as WRKACTJOB – only show information about jobs and threads.

It would take far too much space to write about all of the things you can see through WRKSYSACT; rather, there are a few features that I want to review in more detail.

WRKSYSACT in Batch Mode

First of all, did you know that you can run WRKSYSACT in a batch monitoring mode and write the performance data to a file? You enable the batch mode with the OUTPUT parameter; by default this is * and the information is presented on your display. But there are two additional options, *FILE and *BOTH, which will write the performance data to a database file (QAITMON in QPFRDATA by default). You can specify the sample intervals with the INTERVAL parameter (which also controls the auto-refresh intervals as well) and how many intervals are collected (NBRITV parameter). When you take the option to write the data to a file, a job named WRKSYSACT is submitted to QBATCH to collect the performance data.

The Print Activity Report (PRTACTRPT) command can then be used to print out a report from the sample data collected by WRKSYSACT. The PRTACTRPT command can generate a summary report as well as a detailed report and has options to allow you to specify a timeframe of interest, specific jobs you may want in the report, as well as what criteria the report should use in ordering.

Wait Information

Wait information will tell you what a particular job, thread or task is waiting on when it is waiting to do more work. I wrote about wait accounting in “i Can Tell You Why You’re Waiting” some time ago. You can also see wait information using WRKSYSACT; you simply need to determine which job/thread/task you want to look at, and use option 6, Wait detail, for that job or task. Option 6 will bring up a display that will list the wait categories for that job/thread/task. Be aware that this is a high-level summary of the kinds of wait for that job or task. However, it make give you some clues about what job or task you need more detailed information for; you can then use the Performance Data Investigator with Collection Services or Job Watcher data to view detailed wait information.

Storage Allocated/Deallocated

WRKSYSACT will also show the storage allocated or deallocated by a job/thread/task by pressing the F11 key to get to View 4. I wrote about “Understanding Disk Space Usage” and in that blog reviewed WRKSYSACT and the storage allocated/deallocated information.

Scaled CPU

Scaled CPU time is a metric that can be used to determine if energy management features, such as power capping or power savings, are in effect on your IBM i partition. All generations of POWER hardware (since POWER6) have EnergyScale technology for energy management and all have had EnergyScale papers written; for example, POWER9 EnergyScale. These energy management capabilities can be managed on through the HMC or ASMI. When you use these energy management features, the system’s processor may run at lower or higher frequencies, which can affect your partition’s performance. I wrote about this topic at length in the blog “i Can Understand Scaled CPU Time.”

On the WRKSYSACT display, the value “Average CPU rate” will be displayed if you are using energy management capabilities. This rate is an easy way to determine if your processor has been slowed down due to power capping or power savings.

One final note – one thing that has not changed with WRKSYSACT is the limit of one user at any given time. WRKSYSACT collects a lot of information from critical interfaces in the operating system and the limit of one user ensures limited contention on those critical interfaces.

This blog post was edited to correct broken links on February 18, 2020.

This blog post was originally published on IBMSystemsMag.com and is reproduced here by permission of IBM Systems Media.