Linux Symposium, July 13th - 17th, 2009, Montreal, Canada
Centre Mont-Royal
Montreal, Canada
July 13-17, 2009

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Shoot first and stop the OS noise! Or dealing with microsecond latency requirements

Christoph H. Lameter (christoph@lameter.com)

Latency requirements for Linux software can be extreme. One example is the financial industry: Whoever can create an order first in response to a change in market conditions has an advantage. In the high performance computing area a huge numbers of calculations must occur consistently with low latencies on large number of processors in order to make it possible for rendezvous to occur with sufficient frequency. Games are another case are where low latency is important. In games its a matter of survival. Whoever shoots first will win.

An operating system causes some interference with user space processing through scheduling, interrupts, timers etc. The application code sees execution being delayed for no discernible reason and a variance in execution time of code due to cache pollution by the operating system. Low latency applications are impacted in a significant way by OS noise.

We will investigate issues in software and hardware for low latency applications and show how the OS noise has been increasing in recent kernel versions.



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