IEEE Transactions on Computers

IEEE Transactions on Computers (TC) is a monthly publication that publishes research in such areas as computer organizations and architectures, digital devices, operating systems, and new and important applications and trends.

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From the December 2018 issue

Contention-Aware Fair Scheduling for Asymmetric Single-ISA Multicore Systems

By Adrian Garcia-Garcia, Juan Carlos Saez, and Manuel Prieto-Matias

Featured article thumbnail image Asymmetric single-ISA multicore processors (AMPs), which integrate high-performance big cores and low-power small cores, were shown to deliver higher performance per watt than symmetric multicores. Previous work has demonstrated that the OS scheduler plays an important role in realizing the potential of AMP systems. While throughput optimization on AMPs has been extensively studied, delivering fairness on these platforms still constitutes an important challenge to the OS. To this end, the scheduler must be equipped with a mechanism enabling to accurately track the progress that each application in the workload makes as it runs on the various core types throughout the execution. In turn, this progress largely depends on the benefit (or speedup) that an application derives on a big core relative to a small one, which may differ greatly across applications. While existing fairness-aware schedulers take application relative speedup into consideration when tracking progress, they do not cater to the performance degradation that may occur naturally due to contention on shared resources among cores, such as the last-level cache or the memory bus. In this paper, we propose CAMPS, a contention-aware fair scheduler for AMPs that primarily targets long-running compute-intensive workloads. Unlike other schemes, CAMPS does not require special hardware extensions or platform-specific speedup-prediction models to function. Our experimental evaluation, which leverages real asymmetric hardware and scheduler implementations in the Linux kernel, demonstrates that CAMPS improves fairness by up to 11 percent with respect to a state-of-the-art fairness-aware OS-level scheme, while delivering better system throughput.

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