GPU Core Dumps


When the GPU segfaults and generates an illegal access exception, it can be difficult to know what the GPU was doing at the time of the exception. GPU operations execute asynchronously, so what the CPU was doing at the time the GPU exception was noticed often has little to do with what triggered the exception. GPU core dumps can provide useful clues when debugging these errors, as they contain the state of the GPU at the time the exception occurred on the GPU.

The GPU driver can be configured to write a GPU core dump when the GPU segfaults via environment variable settings for the process. The challenges for the RAPIDS Accelerator use case are getting the environment variables set on the executor processes and then copying the GPU core dump file to a distributed filesystem after it is generated on the local filesystem by the driver.

Environment Variables

The following environment variables are useful for controlling GPU core dumps. See the GPU core dump support section of the CUDA-GDB documentation for more details.


Set to 1 to trigger a GPU core dump on a GPU exception.


The filename to use for the GPU core dump file. Relative paths to the process current working directory are supported. The pattern %h in the filename will be expanded to the hostname, and the pattern %p will be expanded to the process ID. If the filename corresponds with a named pipe, the GPU core dump data will be written to the named pipe by the GPU driver.


Set to 1 to generate a lightweight core dump that omits the local, shared, and global memory dumps. Disabled by default. Lightweight core dumps still show the code location that triggered the exception and therefore can be a good option when one only needs to know what kernel(s) were running at the time of the exception and which one triggered the exception.


Set to 0 to prevent the GPU driver from causing a CPU core dump of the process after the GPU core dump is written. Enabled by default.


Set to 1 to print progress messages to the process stderr as the GPU core dump is generated. This is only supported on newer GPU drivers (e.g.: those that are CUDA 12 compatible).

YARN Log Aggregation

The log aggregation feature of YARN can be leveraged to copy GPU core dumps to the same place that YARN collects container logs. When enabled, YARN will collect all files in a container’s log directory to a distributed filesystem location. YARN will automatically expand the pattern <LOG_DIR> in a container’s environment variables to the container’s log directory which is useful when configuring CUDA_COREDUMP_FILE to place the GPU core dump in the appropriate place for log aggregation. Note that YARN log aggregation may be configured to have relatively low file size limits which may interfere with successful collection of large GPU core dump files.

The following Spark configuration settings will enable GPU lightweight core dumps and have the core dump files placed in the container log directory:


Simplified Core Dump Handling

There is rudimentary support for simplified setup of GPU core dumps in the RAPIDS Accelerator. This currently only works on Spark standalone clusters, since there is currently no way for a driver plugin to programmatically override executor environment variable settings for Spark-on-YARN or Spark-on-Kubernetes. In the future with a driver that is compatible with CUDA 12.1 or later, the RAPIDS Accelerator could leverage GPU driver APIs to programmatically configure GPU core dump support on executor startup.

To enable the simplified core dump handling, set spark.rapids.gpu.coreDump.dir to a directory to use for GPU core dumps. Distributed filesystem URIs are supported. This leverages named pipes and background threads to copy the GPU core dump data to the distributed filesystem. Note that anything that causes early, abrupt termination of the process such as throwing from a C++ destructor will often terminate the process before the dump write can be completed. These abrupt terminations should be fixed when discovered.