path: root/Documentation/timers/no_hz.rst
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authorMauro Carvalho Chehab <>2019-06-12 14:53:00 -0300
committerJonathan Corbet <>2019-06-14 14:31:48 -0600
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treec44aafca54ae7d01160fe8ef09e7999594145a67 /Documentation/timers/no_hz.rst
parent4ca9bc225e46eb7bc040dd948be7cb68975d80d3 (diff)
docs: timers: convert docs to ReST and rename to *.rst
The conversion here is really trivial: just a bunch of title markups and very few puntual changes is enough to make it to be parsed by Sphinx and generate a nice html. The conversion is actually: - add blank lines and identation in order to identify paragraphs; - fix tables markups; - add some lists markups; - mark literal blocks; - adjust title markups. At its new index.rst, let's add a :orphan: while this is not linked to the main index.rst file, in order to avoid build warnings. Signed-off-by: Mauro Carvalho Chehab <> Acked-by: Mark Brown <> Signed-off-by: Jonathan Corbet <>
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+NO_HZ: Reducing Scheduling-Clock Ticks
+This document describes Kconfig options and boot parameters that can
+reduce the number of scheduling-clock interrupts, thereby improving energy
+efficiency and reducing OS jitter. Reducing OS jitter is important for
+some types of computationally intensive high-performance computing (HPC)
+applications and for real-time applications.
+There are three main ways of managing scheduling-clock interrupts
+(also known as "scheduling-clock ticks" or simply "ticks"):
+1. Never omit scheduling-clock ticks (CONFIG_HZ_PERIODIC=y or
+ CONFIG_NO_HZ=n for older kernels). You normally will -not-
+ want to choose this option.
+2. Omit scheduling-clock ticks on idle CPUs (CONFIG_NO_HZ_IDLE=y or
+ CONFIG_NO_HZ=y for older kernels). This is the most common
+ approach, and should be the default.
+3. Omit scheduling-clock ticks on CPUs that are either idle or that
+ have only one runnable task (CONFIG_NO_HZ_FULL=y). Unless you
+ are running realtime applications or certain types of HPC
+ workloads, you will normally -not- want this option.
+These three cases are described in the following three sections, followed
+by a third section on RCU-specific considerations, a fourth section
+discussing testing, and a fifth and final section listing known issues.
+Never Omit Scheduling-Clock Ticks
+Very old versions of Linux from the 1990s and the very early 2000s
+are incapable of omitting scheduling-clock ticks. It turns out that
+there are some situations where this old-school approach is still the
+right approach, for example, in heavy workloads with lots of tasks
+that use short bursts of CPU, where there are very frequent idle
+periods, but where these idle periods are also quite short (tens or
+hundreds of microseconds). For these types of workloads, scheduling
+clock interrupts will normally be delivered any way because there
+will frequently be multiple runnable tasks per CPU. In these cases,
+attempting to turn off the scheduling clock interrupt will have no effect
+other than increasing the overhead of switching to and from idle and
+transitioning between user and kernel execution.
+This mode of operation can be selected using CONFIG_HZ_PERIODIC=y (or
+CONFIG_NO_HZ=n for older kernels).
+However, if you are instead running a light workload with long idle
+periods, failing to omit scheduling-clock interrupts will result in
+excessive power consumption. This is especially bad on battery-powered
+devices, where it results in extremely short battery lifetimes. If you
+are running light workloads, you should therefore read the following
+In addition, if you are running either a real-time workload or an HPC
+workload with short iterations, the scheduling-clock interrupts can
+degrade your applications performance. If this describes your workload,
+you should read the following two sections.
+Omit Scheduling-Clock Ticks For Idle CPUs
+If a CPU is idle, there is little point in sending it a scheduling-clock
+interrupt. After all, the primary purpose of a scheduling-clock interrupt
+is to force a busy CPU to shift its attention among multiple duties,
+and an idle CPU has no duties to shift its attention among.
+The CONFIG_NO_HZ_IDLE=y Kconfig option causes the kernel to avoid sending
+scheduling-clock interrupts to idle CPUs, which is critically important
+both to battery-powered devices and to highly virtualized mainframes.
+A battery-powered device running a CONFIG_HZ_PERIODIC=y kernel would
+drain its battery very quickly, easily 2-3 times as fast as would the
+same device running a CONFIG_NO_HZ_IDLE=y kernel. A mainframe running
+1,500 OS instances might find that half of its CPU time was consumed by
+unnecessary scheduling-clock interrupts. In these situations, there
+is strong motivation to avoid sending scheduling-clock interrupts to
+idle CPUs. That said, dyntick-idle mode is not free:
+1. It increases the number of instructions executed on the path
+ to and from the idle loop.
+2. On many architectures, dyntick-idle mode also increases the
+ number of expensive clock-reprogramming operations.
+Therefore, systems with aggressive real-time response constraints often
+run CONFIG_HZ_PERIODIC=y kernels (or CONFIG_NO_HZ=n for older kernels)
+in order to avoid degrading from-idle transition latencies.
+An idle CPU that is not receiving scheduling-clock interrupts is said to
+be "dyntick-idle", "in dyntick-idle mode", "in nohz mode", or "running
+tickless". The remainder of this document will use "dyntick-idle mode".
+There is also a boot parameter "nohz=" that can be used to disable
+dyntick-idle mode in CONFIG_NO_HZ_IDLE=y kernels by specifying "nohz=off".
+By default, CONFIG_NO_HZ_IDLE=y kernels boot with "nohz=on", enabling
+dyntick-idle mode.
+Omit Scheduling-Clock Ticks For CPUs With Only One Runnable Task
+If a CPU has only one runnable task, there is little point in sending it
+a scheduling-clock interrupt because there is no other task to switch to.
+Note that omitting scheduling-clock ticks for CPUs with only one runnable
+task implies also omitting them for idle CPUs.
+The CONFIG_NO_HZ_FULL=y Kconfig option causes the kernel to avoid
+sending scheduling-clock interrupts to CPUs with a single runnable task,
+and such CPUs are said to be "adaptive-ticks CPUs". This is important
+for applications with aggressive real-time response constraints because
+it allows them to improve their worst-case response times by the maximum
+duration of a scheduling-clock interrupt. It is also important for
+computationally intensive short-iteration workloads: If any CPU is
+delayed during a given iteration, all the other CPUs will be forced to
+wait idle while the delayed CPU finishes. Thus, the delay is multiplied
+by one less than the number of CPUs. In these situations, there is
+again strong motivation to avoid sending scheduling-clock interrupts.
+By default, no CPU will be an adaptive-ticks CPU. The "nohz_full="
+boot parameter specifies the adaptive-ticks CPUs. For example,
+"nohz_full=1,6-8" says that CPUs 1, 6, 7, and 8 are to be adaptive-ticks
+CPUs. Note that you are prohibited from marking all of the CPUs as
+adaptive-tick CPUs: At least one non-adaptive-tick CPU must remain
+online to handle timekeeping tasks in order to ensure that system
+calls like gettimeofday() returns accurate values on adaptive-tick CPUs.
+(This is not an issue for CONFIG_NO_HZ_IDLE=y because there are no running
+user processes to observe slight drifts in clock rate.) Therefore, the
+boot CPU is prohibited from entering adaptive-ticks mode. Specifying a
+"nohz_full=" mask that includes the boot CPU will result in a boot-time
+error message, and the boot CPU will be removed from the mask. Note that
+this means that your system must have at least two CPUs in order for
+CONFIG_NO_HZ_FULL=y to do anything for you.
+Finally, adaptive-ticks CPUs must have their RCU callbacks offloaded.
+This is covered in the "RCU IMPLICATIONS" section below.
+Normally, a CPU remains in adaptive-ticks mode as long as possible.
+In particular, transitioning to kernel mode does not automatically change
+the mode. Instead, the CPU will exit adaptive-ticks mode only if needed,
+for example, if that CPU enqueues an RCU callback.
+Just as with dyntick-idle mode, the benefits of adaptive-tick mode do
+not come for free:
+1. CONFIG_NO_HZ_FULL selects CONFIG_NO_HZ_COMMON, so you cannot run
+ adaptive ticks without also running dyntick idle. This dependency
+ extends down into the implementation, so that all of the costs
+ of CONFIG_NO_HZ_IDLE are also incurred by CONFIG_NO_HZ_FULL.
+2. The user/kernel transitions are slightly more expensive due
+ to the need to inform kernel subsystems (such as RCU) about
+ the change in mode.
+3. POSIX CPU timers prevent CPUs from entering adaptive-tick mode.
+ Real-time applications needing to take actions based on CPU time
+ consumption need to use other means of doing so.
+4. If there are more perf events pending than the hardware can
+ accommodate, they are normally round-robined so as to collect
+ all of them over time. Adaptive-tick mode may prevent this
+ round-robining from happening. This will likely be fixed by
+ preventing CPUs with large numbers of perf events pending from
+ entering adaptive-tick mode.
+5. Scheduler statistics for adaptive-tick CPUs may be computed
+ slightly differently than those for non-adaptive-tick CPUs.
+ This might in turn perturb load-balancing of real-time tasks.
+6. The LB_BIAS scheduler feature is disabled by adaptive ticks.
+Although improvements are expected over time, adaptive ticks is quite
+useful for many types of real-time and compute-intensive applications.
+However, the drawbacks listed above mean that adaptive ticks should not
+(yet) be enabled by default.
+RCU Implications
+There are situations in which idle CPUs cannot be permitted to
+enter either dyntick-idle mode or adaptive-tick mode, the most
+common being when that CPU has RCU callbacks pending.
+The CONFIG_RCU_FAST_NO_HZ=y Kconfig option may be used to cause such CPUs
+to enter dyntick-idle mode or adaptive-tick mode anyway. In this case,
+a timer will awaken these CPUs every four jiffies in order to ensure
+that the RCU callbacks are processed in a timely fashion.
+Another approach is to offload RCU callback processing to "rcuo" kthreads
+using the CONFIG_RCU_NOCB_CPU=y Kconfig option. The specific CPUs to
+offload may be selected using The "rcu_nocbs=" kernel boot parameter,
+which takes a comma-separated list of CPUs and CPU ranges, for example,
+"1,3-5" selects CPUs 1, 3, 4, and 5.
+The offloaded CPUs will never queue RCU callbacks, and therefore RCU
+never prevents offloaded CPUs from entering either dyntick-idle mode
+or adaptive-tick mode. That said, note that it is up to userspace to
+pin the "rcuo" kthreads to specific CPUs if desired. Otherwise, the
+scheduler will decide where to run them, which might or might not be
+where you want them to run.
+So you enable all the OS-jitter features described in this document,
+but do not see any change in your workload's behavior. Is this because
+your workload isn't affected that much by OS jitter, or is it because
+something else is in the way? This section helps answer this question
+by providing a simple OS-jitter test suite, which is available on branch
+master of the following git archive:
+Clone this archive and follow the instructions in the README file.
+This test procedure will produce a trace that will allow you to evaluate
+whether or not you have succeeded in removing OS jitter from your system.
+If this trace shows that you have removed OS jitter as much as is
+possible, then you can conclude that your workload is not all that
+sensitive to OS jitter.
+Note: this test requires that your system have at least two CPUs.
+We do not currently have a good way to remove OS jitter from single-CPU
+Known Issues
+* Dyntick-idle slows transitions to and from idle slightly.
+ In practice, this has not been a problem except for the most
+ aggressive real-time workloads, which have the option of disabling
+ dyntick-idle mode, an option that most of them take. However,
+ some workloads will no doubt want to use adaptive ticks to
+ eliminate scheduling-clock interrupt latencies. Here are some
+ options for these workloads:
+ a. Use PMQOS from userspace to inform the kernel of your
+ latency requirements (preferred).
+ b. On x86 systems, use the "idle=mwait" boot parameter.
+ c. On x86 systems, use the "intel_idle.max_cstate=" to limit
+ ` the maximum C-state depth.
+ d. On x86 systems, use the "idle=poll" boot parameter.
+ However, please note that use of this parameter can cause
+ your CPU to overheat, which may cause thermal throttling
+ to degrade your latencies -- and that this degradation can
+ be even worse than that of dyntick-idle. Furthermore,
+ this parameter effectively disables Turbo Mode on Intel
+ CPUs, which can significantly reduce maximum performance.
+* Adaptive-ticks slows user/kernel transitions slightly.
+ This is not expected to be a problem for computationally intensive
+ workloads, which have few such transitions. Careful benchmarking
+ will be required to determine whether or not other workloads
+ are significantly affected by this effect.
+* Adaptive-ticks does not do anything unless there is only one
+ runnable task for a given CPU, even though there are a number
+ of other situations where the scheduling-clock tick is not
+ needed. To give but one example, consider a CPU that has one
+ runnable high-priority SCHED_FIFO task and an arbitrary number
+ of low-priority SCHED_OTHER tasks. In this case, the CPU is
+ required to run the SCHED_FIFO task until it either blocks or
+ some other higher-priority task awakens on (or is assigned to)
+ this CPU, so there is no point in sending a scheduling-clock
+ interrupt to this CPU. However, the current implementation
+ nevertheless sends scheduling-clock interrupts to CPUs having a
+ single runnable SCHED_FIFO task and multiple runnable SCHED_OTHER
+ tasks, even though these interrupts are unnecessary.
+ And even when there are multiple runnable tasks on a given CPU,
+ there is little point in interrupting that CPU until the current
+ running task's timeslice expires, which is almost always way
+ longer than the time of the next scheduling-clock interrupt.
+ Better handling of these sorts of situations is future work.
+* A reboot is required to reconfigure both adaptive idle and RCU
+ callback offloading. Runtime reconfiguration could be provided
+ if needed, however, due to the complexity of reconfiguring RCU at
+ runtime, there would need to be an earthshakingly good reason.
+ Especially given that you have the straightforward option of
+ simply offloading RCU callbacks from all CPUs and pinning them
+ where you want them whenever you want them pinned.
+* Additional configuration is required to deal with other sources
+ of OS jitter, including interrupts and system-utility tasks
+ and processes. This configuration normally involves binding
+ interrupts and tasks to particular CPUs.
+* Some sources of OS jitter can currently be eliminated only by
+ constraining the workload. For example, the only way to eliminate
+ OS jitter due to global TLB shootdowns is to avoid the unmapping
+ operations (such as kernel module unload operations) that
+ result in these shootdowns. For another example, page faults
+ and TLB misses can be reduced (and in some cases eliminated) by
+ using huge pages and by constraining the amount of memory used
+ by the application. Pre-faulting the working set can also be
+ helpful, especially when combined with the mlock() and mlockall()
+ system calls.
+* Unless all CPUs are idle, at least one CPU must keep the
+ scheduling-clock interrupt going in order to support accurate
+ timekeeping.
+* If there might potentially be some adaptive-ticks CPUs, there
+ will be at least one CPU keeping the scheduling-clock interrupt
+ going, even if all CPUs are otherwise idle.
+ Better handling of this situation is ongoing work.
+* Some process-handling operations still require the occasional
+ scheduling-clock tick. These operations include calculating CPU
+ load, maintaining sched average, computing CFS entity vruntime,
+ computing avenrun, and carrying out load balancing. They are
+ currently accommodated by scheduling-clock tick every second
+ or so. On-going work will eliminate the need even for these
+ infrequent scheduling-clock ticks.