Wakeup Latency, and Fair Scheduling

  • Scheduling decision: “best” task

  • In the fair world, everyone is equal

    • ⟶ no guaranteed wakeup times

    • Might be that 100 tasks are chosen before the one that has the event pending

  • nice can be used to make some “more equal”

Nice Value: Inexact Tuning

Attention: no guarantees ⟶ no realtime!

  • Specifies how “nice” a process is

  • Between -20 (not nice) and +20 (very nice)

  • +20 ⟶ only runs when noone else wants the CPU

  • Non-root user can only increase nice value (“become nicer”)



  • Nice values give a false sense of realtime feeling

  • No guarantees!

Enter Realtime: Definition

DIN 44300

Echtzeitbetrieb ist ein Betrieb eines Rechensystems, bei dem Programme zur Verarbeitung anfallender Daten ständig derart betriebsbereit sind, daß die Verarbeitungsergebnisse innerhalb einer vorgegebenen Zeitspanne verfügbar sind.

A-ha … so what is Realtime?

  • Realtime is not speed

  • Realtime is not low latency

  • Realtime is determinism

Realtime on Linux

As opposed to fair scheduling

  • When a realtime task becomes runnable, the system makes it running immediately - a lower priority task is preempted to steal the CPU

    • Fair scheduling just adds runnable task to set of all runnable tasks ⟶ selects one from there when CPU becomes available

    • Ad determinism: whatever prevents the task from running is preempted, and the realtime task can run immediately

  • Lower priority running task is pushed from its CPU, and realtime task is scheduled on that CPU

  • ⟶ inherently unfair

  • ⟶ requires root permission, obviously

Immediately? ⟶ later!

Demo: Measuring Wakeup Latency

  • chrt: run non-realtime-aware process with realtime attributes

  • Simple (no programming necessary), but there is more to it

Run program with SCHED_FIFO (-f) realtime scheduling policy, at priority 1 (lowest realtime prio). (See Realtime API for details.)

$ sudo chrt -f 1 ./ 0.01 100
mean: 0.000014s (0.013914ms, 13.91410827636698us)
stdev: 0.000002s (0.002382ms, 2.3820173632900326us)


Situations where preemption is difficult …

  • Holds a spinlock

    • ⟶ preemption disabled, interrupts off

    • brutal

  • An interrupt service routine (ISR) is running

    • Interrupt context is not preemptible

    • Only task (“process”) context is

  • There is always the risk of priority inversion (a deadlock scenario)

Immediately! ⟶ PREEMPT_RT