Even if your kernel executes, it may be computing the wrong values, or even error at run time. To debug these issues, both CUDA.jl and the CUDA toolkit provide several utilities. These are generally low-level, since we generally cannot use the full extend of the Julia programming language and its tools within GPU kernels.

Adding output statements

The easiest, and often reasonably effective way to debug GPU code is to visualize intermediary computations using output functions. CUDA.jl provides several macros that facilitate this style of debugging:

  • @cushow (like @show): to visualize an expression, its result, and return that value. This makes it easy to wrap expressions without disturbing their execution.
  • @cuprintln (like println): to print text and values. This macro does support string interpolation, but the types it can print are restricted to C primitives.

The @cuaassert macro (like @assert) can also be useful to find issues and abort execution.

Stack trace information

If you run into run-time exceptions, stack trace information will by default be very limited. For example, given the following out-of-bounds access:

julia> function kernel(a)
         a[threadIdx().x] = 0
kernel (generic function with 1 method)

julia> @cuda threads=2 kernel(CuArray([1]))

If we execute this code, we'll get a very short error message:

ERROR: a exception was thrown during kernel execution.
Run Julia on debug level 2 for device stack traces.

As the message suggests, we can have CUDA.jl emit more rich stack trace information by setting Julia's debug level to 2 or higher by passing -g2 to the julia invocation:

ERROR: a exception was thrown during kernel execution.
 [1] throw_boundserror at abstractarray.jl:541
 [2] checkbounds at abstractarray.jl:506
 [3] arrayset at /home/tim/Julia/pkg/CUDA/src/device/array.jl:84
 [4] setindex! at /home/tim/Julia/pkg/CUDA/src/device/array.jl:101
 [5] kernel at REPL[4]:2

Note that these messages are embedded in the module (CUDA does not support stack unwinding), and thus bloat its size. To avoid any overhead, you can disable these messages by setting the debug level to 0 (passing -g0 to julia). This disabled any device-side message, but retains the host-side detection:

julia> @cuda threads=2 kernel(CuArray([1]))
# no device-side error message!

julia> synchronize()
ERROR: KernelException: exception thrown during kernel execution

Debug info and line-number information

Setting the debug level does not only enrich stack traces, it also changes the debug info emitted in the CUDA module. On debug level 1, which is the default setting if unspecified, CUDA.jl emits line number information corresponding to nvcc -lineinfo. This information does not hurt performance, and is used by a variety of tools to improve the debugging experience.

To emit actual debug info as nvcc -G does, you need to start Julia on debug level 2 by passing the flag -g2. Support for emitting PTX-compatible debug info is a recent addition to the NVPTX LLVM back-end, so it's possible this information is incorrect or otherwise affects compilation.


Due to bugs in ptxas, you need CUDA 11.5 or higher for debug info support.

To disable all debug info emission, start Julia with the flag -g0.


To debug kernel issues like memory errors or race conditions, you can use CUDA's compute-sanitizer tool. Refer to the manual for more information.

To facilitate using the compute sanitizer, CUDA.jl ships the tool as part of its artifacts. You can get the path to the tool using the following function:

julia> using CUDA

julia> CUDA.compute_sanitizer()

# including recommended options for use with Julia and CUDA.jl
julia> CUDA.compute_sanitizer_cmd()
`.julia/artifacts/7b09e1deca842d1e5467b6f7a8ec5a96d47ae0b4/bin/compute-sanitizer --tool memcheck --launch-timeout=0 --target-processes=all --report-api-errors=no`

To quickly spawn a new Julia session under compute-sanitizer, another helper function is provided:

julia> CUDA.run_compute_sanitizer()
Re-starting your active Julia session...

julia> using CUDA

julia> CuArray([1]) .+ 1
1-element CuArray{Int64, 1, CUDA.DeviceMemory}:

julia> exit()
========= ERROR SUMMARY: 0 errors
Process(`.julia/artifacts/7b09e1deca842d1e5467b6f7a8ec5a96d47ae0b4/bin/compute-sanitizer --tool memcheck --launch-timeout=0 --target-processes=all --report-api-errors=no julia -g1`, ProcessExited(0))


To debug Julia code, you can use the CUDA debugger cuda-gdb. When using this tool, it is recommended to enable Julia debug mode 2 so that debug information is emitted. Do note that the DWARF info emitted by Julia is currently insufficient to e.g. inspect variables, so the debug experience will not be pleasant.

If you encounter the CUDBG_ERROR_UNINITIALIZED error, ensure all your devices are supported by cuda-gdb (e.g., Kepler-era devices aren't). If some aren't, re-start Julia with CUDA_VISIBLE_DEVICES set to ignore that device.