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Server performance and system administration expert Brendan Gregg has posted a critical overview of some very interesting approaches to visualize device utilization, or the working efficiency of about 5,312 virtual CPUs (spread over about 600 physical processors). In his profession, Brendan need to analyze urgent performance issues, that can often not be solved with available visualization tools (the most common problem is a line graph showing average device utilization, making it impossible to identify that single or multiple devices are at 100%).

In fact, Brendan developed a collection of visualization techniques that suit a wide range of problems, and should satisfy practically everyone: ranging from those who appreciate a command line interface or a simple table, to those who love 3D surface plots and animations. CPUs have been plotted as pixels, "quantized heat maps", line graphs, ternary plots, you name it, including just text (to "verbalize the state of performance quickly (the emergency concall)").

As a nice, sophisticated touch, the blog post itself includes the use of miniature, condensed graphs, embedded within the text sentences themselves, much like, and maybe even better than, Tufte's infamous Sparklines.