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-This document explains the thinking about the revamped and streamlined
-nice-levels implementation in the new Linux scheduler.
-Nice levels were always pretty weak under Linux and people continuously
-pestered us to make nice +19 tasks use up much less CPU time.
-Unfortunately that was not that easy to implement under the old
-scheduler, (otherwise we'd have done it long ago) because nice level
-support was historically coupled to timeslice length, and timeslice
-units were driven by the HZ tick, so the smallest timeslice was 1/HZ.
-In the O(1) scheduler (in 2003) we changed negative nice levels to be
-much stronger than they were before in 2.4 (and people were happy about
-that change), and we also intentionally calibrated the linear timeslice
-rule so that nice +19 level would be _exactly_ 1 jiffy. To better
-understand it, the timeslice graph went like this (cheesy ASCII art
- A
- \ | [timeslice length]
- \ |
- \ |
- \ |
- \ |
- \|___100msecs
- |^ . _
- | ^ . _
- | ^ . _
- -*----------------------------------*-----> [nice level]
- -20 | +19
- |
- |
-So that if someone wanted to really renice tasks, +19 would give a much
-bigger hit than the normal linear rule would do. (The solution of
-changing the ABI to extend priorities was discarded early on.)
-This approach worked to some degree for some time, but later on with
-HZ=1000 it caused 1 jiffy to be 1 msec, which meant 0.1% CPU usage which
-we felt to be a bit excessive. Excessive _not_ because it's too small of
-a CPU utilization, but because it causes too frequent (once per
-millisec) rescheduling. (and would thus trash the cache, etc. Remember,
-this was long ago when hardware was weaker and caches were smaller, and
-people were running number crunching apps at nice +19.)
-So for HZ=1000 we changed nice +19 to 5msecs, because that felt like the
-right minimal granularity - and this translates to 5% CPU utilization.
-But the fundamental HZ-sensitive property for nice+19 still remained,
-and we never got a single complaint about nice +19 being too _weak_ in
-terms of CPU utilization, we only got complaints about it (still) being
-too _strong_ :-)
-To sum it up: we always wanted to make nice levels more consistent, but
-within the constraints of HZ and jiffies and their nasty design level
-coupling to timeslices and granularity it was not really viable.
-The second (less frequent but still periodically occurring) complaint
-about Linux's nice level support was its assymetry around the origo
-(which you can see demonstrated in the picture above), or more
-accurately: the fact that nice level behavior depended on the _absolute_
-nice level as well, while the nice API itself is fundamentally
- int nice(int inc);
- asmlinkage long sys_nice(int increment)
-(the first one is the glibc API, the second one is the syscall API.)
-Note that the 'inc' is relative to the current nice level. Tools like
-bash's "nice" command mirror this relative API.
-With the old scheduler, if you for example started a niced task with +1
-and another task with +2, the CPU split between the two tasks would
-depend on the nice level of the parent shell - if it was at nice -10 the
-CPU split was different than if it was at +5 or +10.
-A third complaint against Linux's nice level support was that negative
-nice levels were not 'punchy enough', so lots of people had to resort to
-run audio (and other multimedia) apps under RT priorities such as
-SCHED_FIFO. But this caused other problems: SCHED_FIFO is not starvation
-proof, and a buggy SCHED_FIFO app can also lock up the system for good.
-The new scheduler in v2.6.23 addresses all three types of complaints:
-To address the first complaint (of nice levels being not "punchy"
-enough), the scheduler was decoupled from 'time slice' and HZ concepts
-(and granularity was made a separate concept from nice levels) and thus
-it was possible to implement better and more consistent nice +19
-support: with the new scheduler nice +19 tasks get a HZ-independent
-1.5%, instead of the variable 3%-5%-9% range they got in the old
-To address the second complaint (of nice levels not being consistent),
-the new scheduler makes nice(1) have the same CPU utilization effect on
-tasks, regardless of their absolute nice levels. So on the new
-scheduler, running a nice +10 and a nice 11 task has the same CPU
-utilization "split" between them as running a nice -5 and a nice -4
-task. (one will get 55% of the CPU, the other 45%.) That is why nice
-levels were changed to be "multiplicative" (or exponential) - that way
-it does not matter which nice level you start out from, the 'relative
-result' will always be the same.
-The third complaint (of negative nice levels not being "punchy" enough
-and forcing audio apps to run under the more dangerous SCHED_FIFO
-scheduling policy) is addressed by the new scheduler almost
-automatically: stronger negative nice levels are an automatic
-side-effect of the recalibrated dynamic range of nice levels.