Debugging Triton

This tutorial provides guidance for debugging Triton programs. It is mostly documented for Triton users. Developers interested in exploring Triton’s backend, including MLIR code transformation and LLVM code generation, can refer to this section to explore debugging options.

Using Triton’s Debugging Operations

Triton includes four debugging operators that allow users to check and inspect tensor values:

  • static_print and static_assert are intended for compile-time debugging.

  • device_print and device_assert are used for runtime debugging.

device_assert executes only when TRITON_DEBUG is set to 1. Other debugging operators execute regardless of the value of TRITON_DEBUG.

Using the Interpreter

The interpreter is a straightforward and helpful tool for debugging Triton programs. It allows Triton users to run Triton programs on the CPU and inspect the intermediate results of each operation. To enable the interpreter mode, set the environment variable TRITON_INTERPRET to 1. This setting causes all Triton kernels to bypass compilation and be simulated by the interpreter using numpy equivalents of Triton operations. The interpreter processes each Triton program instance sequentially, executing operations one at a time.

There are three primary ways to use the interpreter:

  • Print the intermediate results of each operation using the Python print function. To inspect an entire tensor, use print(tensor). To examine individual tensor values at idx, use print([idx]).

  • Attach pdb for step-by-step debugging of the Triton program:

    b<line number>
  • Import the pdb package and set breakpoints in the Triton program:

    import triton
    import triton.language as tl
    import pdb
    def kernel(x_ptr, y_ptr, BLOCK_SIZE: tl.constexpr):
      offs = tl.arange(0, BLOCK_SIZE)
      x = tl.load(x_ptr + offs) + offs, x)


The interpreter has several known limitations:

  • It does not support operations on bfloat16 numeric types. To perform operations on bfloat16 tensors, use tl.cast(tensor) to convert the tensor to float32.

  • It does not support indirect memory access patterns such as:

    ptr = tl.load(ptr)
    x = tl.load(ptr)
  • Unlike the compilation mode, a scalar in interpreter mode is treated as a simple float or integer but not as a 0-d tensor. This means it lacks tensor attributes such as x.dtype. A workaround is to explicitly convert the scalar to a tensor using tl.to_tensor(x), where x is the scalar.

Using Third-party Tools

For debugging on NVIDIA GPUs, compute-sanitizer is an effective tool for checking data races and memory access issues. To use it, prepend compute-sanitizer to your command to run the Triton program.

For debugging on AMD GPUs, you may want to try the LLVM AddressSanitizer for ROCm.

For detailed visualization of memory access in Triton programs, consider using the triton-viz tool, which is agnostic to the underlying GPUs.