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In order to study the performance of scheduling algorithms, simulators of parallel and distributed applications need accurate models of the application's behavior during execution. For this purpose, traces of low-level events collected during the actual execution of real applications are needed. Collecting such traces is a difficult task due to the timing, to the interference of instrumentation code, and to the storage and transfer of the collected data. To address this problem we propose a comprehensive software architecture, which instruments the application's executables, gather hierarchically the traces, and post-process them in order to feed simulation models. We designed it to be scalable, modular and extensible.