Operating Systems Lecture Notes
Martin C. Rinard
- What is CPU scheduling? Determining which processes run when
there are multiple runnable processes. Why is it important?
Because it can can have a big effect on resource utilization and the overall
performance of the system.
- By the way, the world went through a long period (late 80's, early
90's) in which the most popular operating systems (DOS, Mac) had
NO sophisticated CPU scheduling algorithms.
They were single threaded and ran one process at a time until the
user directs them to run another process. Why was this true?
More recent systems (Windows NT) are back to having sophisticated
CPU scheduling algorithms. What drove the change, and what will
happen in the future?
- Basic assumptions behind most scheduling algorithms:
In general, these assumptions are starting to break down. First of
all, CPUs are not really that scarce - almost everybody has
several, and pretty soon people will be able to afford lots. Second, many
applications are starting to be structured as multiple cooperating
processes. So, a view of the scheduler as mediating between competing
entities may be partially obsolete.
- There is a pool of runnable processes contending for the CPU.
- The processes are independent and compete for resources.
- The job of the scheduler is to distribute the scarce resource of
the CPU to the different processes ``fairly'' (according to some
definition of fairness) and in a way that optimizes some performance
- How do processes behave? First, CPU/IO burst cycle.
A process will run for a while (the CPU burst),
perform some IO (the IO burst), then run for
a while more (the next CPU burst).
How long between IO operations? Depends on the process.
One of the things a scheduler will typically do is switch the CPU to
another process when one process does IO. Why? The IO will take a long
time, and don't want to leave the CPU idle while wait for the IO to finish.
- IO Bound processes: processes that perform lots of IO
operations. Each IO operation is followed by a short CPU burst to
process the IO, then more IO happens.
- CPU bound processes: processes that perform lots of computation
and do little IO. Tend to have a few long CPU bursts.
- When look at CPU burst times across the whole system, have the
exponential or hyperexponential distribution in Fig. 5.2.
- What are possible process states?
- Running - process is running on CPU.
- Ready - ready to run, but not actually running on the CPU.
- Waiting - waiting for some event like IO to happen.
- When do scheduling decisions take place? When does CPU choose
which process to run? Are a variety of possibilities:
- When process switches from running to waiting. Could be because
of IO request, because wait for child to terminate, or wait for
synchronization operation (like lock acquisition) to complete.
- When process switches from running to ready - on completion of
interrupt handler, for example. Common example of interrupt handler -
timer interrupt in interactive systems. If scheduler switches
processes in this case, it has preempted the running process.
Another common case interrupt handler is the IO completion handler.
- When process switches from waiting to ready state (on completion
of IO or acquisition of a lock, for example).
- When a process terminates.
- How to evaluate scheduling algorithm? There are many possible
- CPU Utilization: Keep CPU utilization as high as possible.
(What is utilization, by the way?).
- Throughput: number of processes completed per unit time.
- Turnaround Time: mean time from submission to completion of
- Waiting Time: Amount of time spent ready to run but not running.
- Response Time: Time between submission of requests and first response
to the request.
- Scheduler Efficiency: The scheduler doesn't perform any useful
work, so any time it takes is pure overhead. So, need to make the
scheduler very efficient.
- Big difference: Batch and Interactive systems. In batch systems,
typically want good throughput or turnaround time. In interactive
systems, both of these are still usually important (after all, want
some computation to happen), but response time is usually a primary
consideration. And, for some systems, throughput or turnaround time
is not really relevant - some processes conceptually run forever.
- Difference between long and short term scheduling. Long term
scheduler is given a set of processes and decides which ones should
start to run. Once they start running, they may suspend because of IO
or because of preemption. Short term scheduler decides which of the
available jobs that long term scheduler has decided are runnable
to actually run.
- Let's start looking at several vanilla scheduling algorithms.
- First-Come, First-Served. One ready queue, OS runs the process
at head of queue, new processes come in at the end of the queue.
A process does not give up CPU until it either terminates or performs IO.
- Consider performance of FCFS algorithm for three compute-bound processes.
What if have 4 processes P1 (takes 24 seconds), P2 (takes 3 seconds)
and P3 (takes 3 seconds). If arrive in order P1, P2, P3, what is
What about if processes come in order P2, P3, P1? What is
- Waiting Time? (24 + 27) / 3 = 17
- Turnaround Time? (24 + 27 + 30) = 27.
- Throughput? 30 / 3 = 10.
- Waiting Time? (3 + 3) / 2 = 6
- Turnaround Time? (3 + 6 + 30) = 13.
- Throughput? 30 / 3 = 10.
- Shortest-Job-First (SJF) can eliminate some of the variance
in Waiting and Turnaround time. In fact, it is optimal with
respect to average waiting time. Big problem: how
does scheduler figure out how long will it take
the process to run?
- For long term scheduler
running on a batch system, user will give an estimate. Usually
pretty good - if it is too short, system will cancel job before it
finishes. If too long, system will hold off on running the process.
So, users give pretty good estimates of overall running time.
- For short-term scheduler, must use the past to predict the
future. Standard way: use a time-decayed
exponentially weighted average of previous CPU bursts for each process.
Let Tn be the measured burst time of the nth burst, sn
be the predicted size of next CPU burst. Then, choose a weighting
factor w, where 0 <= w <= 1 and compute
sn+1 = w Tn + (1 - w)sn.
s0 is defined as some default constant or system average.
- w tells how to weight the past relative to future.
If choose w = .5, last observation has as much weight as
entire rest of the history. If choose w = 1, only last
observation has any weight. Do a quick example.
- Preemptive vs. Non-preemptive SJF scheduler. Preemptive scheduler
reruns scheduling decision when process becomes ready.
If the new process has priority over running process, the CPU
preempts the running process and executes the new process.
Non-preemptive scheduler only does scheduling decision when
running process voluntarily gives up CPU. In effect, it allows every
running process to finish its CPU burst.
- Consider 4 processes P1 (burst time 8), P2 (burst time 4),
P3 (burst time 9) P4 (burst time 5) that arrive one time unit apart
in order P1, P2, P3, P4. Assume that after burst happens, process
is not reenabled for a long time (at least 100, for example).
What does a preemptive SJF scheduler do?
What about a non-preemptive scheduler?
- Priority Scheduling. Each process is given a priority, then
CPU executes process with highest priority. If multiple processes
with same priority are runnable, use some other criteria - typically
FCFS. SJF is an example of a priority-based scheduling algorithm.
With the exponential decay algorithm above, the priorities of a
given process change over time.
- Assume we have 5 processes P1 (burst time 10, priority 3),
P2 (burst time 1, priority 1),
P3 (burst time 2, priority 3),
P4 (burst time 1, priority 4),
P5 (burst time 5, priority 2). Lower numbers represent higher priorities.
What would a standard priority scheduler do?
- Big problem with priority scheduling algorithms: starvation or
blocking of low-priority processes. Can use aging to prevent this -
make the priority of a process go up the longer it stays runnable but
- What about interactive systems? Cannot just let any process run
on the CPU until it gives it up - must give response to users in a
reasonable time. So, use an algorithm called round-robin
scheduling. Similar to FCFS but with preemption.
Have a time quantum or time slice. Let the first process
in the queue run until
it expires its quantum (i.e. runs for as long as the time quantum),
then run the next process in the queue.
- Implementing round-robin requires timer interrupts. When
schedule a process, set the timer to go off after the time quantum
amount of time expires. If process does IO before timer goes off, no
problem - just run next process. But if process expires its quantum,
do a context switch. Save the state of the running process and
run the next process.
- How well does RR work? Well, it gives good response time,
but can give bad waiting time. Consider the waiting times under
round robin for 3 processes P1 (burst time 24), P2 (burst time 3),
and P3 (burst time 4) with time quantum 4. What happens, and what is
average waiting time? What gives best waiting time?
- What happens with really a really small quantum? It looks like
you've got a CPU that is 1/n as powerful as the real CPU, where
n is the number of processes. Problem with a small quantum -
context switch overhead.
- What about having a really small quantum supported in hardware?
Then, you have something called multithreading. Give the CPU a bunch
of registers and heavily pipeline the execution. Feed the processes
into the pipe one by one. Treat memory access like IO - suspend the
thread until the data comes back from the memory. In the meantime,
execute other threads. Use computation to hide the latency of
- What about a really big quantum? It turns into FCFS. Rule of
thumb - want 80 percent of CPU bursts to be shorter than time quantum.
- Multilevel Queue Scheduling - like RR, except have multiple
queues. Typically, classify processes into separate categories and
give a queue to each category. So, might have system, interactive and
batch processes, with the priorities in that order. Could also
allocate a percentage of the CPU to each queue.
- Multilevel Feedback Queue Scheduling - Like multilevel
scheduling, except processes can move between queues as their
priority changes. Can be used to give IO bound and interactive
processes CPU priority over CPU bound processes. Can also
prevent starvation by increasing the priority of processes that
have been idle for a long time.
- A simple example of a multilevel feedback queue scheduling
algorithm. Have 3 queues, numbered 0, 1, 2 with corresponding
priority. So, for example, execute a task in queue 2 only when
queues 0 and 1 are empty.
- A process goes into queue 0 when it becomes ready.
When run a process from queue 0, give it a quantum of 8 ms.
If it expires its quantum, move to queue 1. When execute
a process from queue 1, give it a quantum of 16. If it expires
its quantum, move to queue 2. In queue 2, run a RR scheduler with
a large quantum if in an interactive system or an FCFS scheduler
if in a batch system. Of course, preempt queue 2 processes when a
new process becomes ready.
- Another example of a multilevel feedback queue scheduling algorithm:
the Unix scheduler. We will go over a simplified version that does not
include kernel priorities. The point of the algorithm is to fairly
allocate the CPU between processes, with processes that have not
recently used a lot of CPU resources given priority over processes
- Processes are given a base priority of 60, with lower numbers
representing higher priorities. The system clock generates an
interrupt between 50 and 100 times a second, so we will assume a
value of 60 clock interrupts per second. The clock interrupt handler
increments a CPU usage field in the PCB of the interrupted
process every time it runs.
- The system always runs the highest priority process.
If there is a tie, it runs the process that has been ready longest.
Every second, it recalculates the priority and CPU usage field
for every process according
to the following formulas.
- CPU usage field = CPU usage field / 2
- Priority = CPU usage field / 2 + base priority
- So, when a process does not use much CPU recently, its priority
rises. The priorities of IO bound processes and interactive processes
therefore tend to be high and the priorities of CPU bound processes
tend to be low (which is what you want).
- Unix also allows users to provide a ``nice'' value for each
process. Nice values modify the priority calculation as follows:
So, you can reduce the priority of your process to be ``nice'' to
other processes (which may include your own).
- Priority = CPU usage field / 2 + base priority + nice value
- In general, multilevel feedback queue schedulers are complex
pieces of software that must be tuned to meet requirements.
- Anomalies and system effects associated with schedulers.
- Priority interacts with synchronization to create a really
nasty effect called priority inversion. A priority inversion happens
when a low-priority thread acquires a lock, then a high-priority
thread tries to acquire the lock and blocks. Any middle-priority
threads will prevent the low-priority thread from running and
unlocking the lock. In effect, the middle-priority threads block the
- How to prevent priority inversions? Use priority inheritance.
Any time a thread holds a lock that other threads are waiting on, give
the thread the priority of the highest-priority thread waiting to
get the lock. Problem is that priority inheritance makes the
scheduling algorithm less efficient and increases the overhead.
- Preemption can interact with synchronization
in a multiprocessor context to create another
nasty effect - the convoy effect. One thread acquires the lock, then
suspends. Other threads come along, and need to acquire the lock
to perform their operations. Everybody suspends until the lock that
has the thread wakes up. At this point the threads are synchronized,
and will convoy their way through the lock, serializing the
computation. So, drives down the processor utilization.
- If have non-blocking synchronization via operations like LL/SC,
don't get convoy effects caused by suspending a thread competing
for access to a resource. Why not? Because threads don't hold resources
and prevent other threads from accessing them.
- Similar effect when scheduling CPU and IO bound processes.
Consider a FCFS algorithm with several IO bound and one CPU bound
process. All of the IO bound processes execute their bursts
quickly and queue up for access to the IO device. The CPU bound
process then executes for a long time. During this time all of the IO
bound processes have their IO requests satisfied and move back into
the run queue. But they don't run - the CPU bound process is running
instead - so the IO device idles. Finally, the CPU bound process
gets off the CPU, and all of the IO bound processes run for a short
time then queue up again for the IO devices. Result is poor
utilization of IO device - it is busy for a time while it processes
the IO requests, then idle while the IO bound processes wait in the
run queues for their short CPU bursts. In this case an easy solution
is to give IO bound processes priority over CPU bound processes.
- In general, a convoy effect happens when a set of processes
need to use a resource for a short time, and one process holds the
resource for a long time, blocking all of the other processes.
Causes poor utilization of the other resources in the system.
Permission is granted to copy and distribute this
material for educational purposes only, provided that the
following credit line is included: "Operating Systems
Lecture Notes, Copyright 1997 Martin C. Rinard."
Permission is granted to alter and distribute this material provided
that the following credit line is included:
"Adapted from Operating Systems
Lecture Notes, Copyright 1997 Martin C. Rinard."
Martin Rinard, email@example.com, www.cag.lcs.mit.edu/~rinard