One-shot-oriented event timers management

Brandon Gooch jamesbrandongooch at
Wed Sep 1 17:53:06 UTC 2010

On Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 5:44 AM, Alexander Motin <mav at> wrote:
> Alexander Motin wrote:
>> Gary Jennejohn wrote:
>>> On Mon, 30 Aug 2010 12:11:48 +0200
>>> OK, this is purely anecdotal, but I'll report it anyway.
>>> I was running pretty much all day with the patched kernel and things
>>> seemed to be working quite well.
>>> Then, after about 7 hours, everything just stopped.
>>> I had gkrellm running and noticed that it updated only when I moved the
>>> mouse.
>>> This behavior leads me to suspect that the timer interrupts had stopped
>>> working and the mouse interrupts were causing processes to get scheduled.
>>> Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a dump and had to hit reset to
>>> recover.
>>> As I wrote above, this is only anecdotal, but I've never seen anything
>>> like this before applying the patches.
>> One-shot timers have one weak side: if for some reason timer interrupt
>> getting lost -- there will be nobody to reload the timer. Such cases
>> probably will require special attention. Same funny situation with
>> mouse-driven scheduler happens also if LAPIC timer dies when pre-Core-iX
>> CPU goes to C3 state.
> I have reproduced the problem locally. It happens more often when ticks
> are not stopped on idle, like in your original case (or if explicitly
> enabled by kern.eventtimer.idletick sysctl).
> I've made some changes to HPET driver, which, I hope, should fix
> interrupt losses there.
> Updated patch:
> Patch also includes some optimizations to reduce lock contention.
> Thanks for testing.

This latest patch causes an interrupt storm with the HPET timer on my
system. The machine took about 8 minutes to boot and bring me to a
login prompt. System interactivity (i.e. input from keyboard, output
on console) was fine, but after checking the output of `systat vmstat
-1`, I saw the interrupt rate on each HPET entry was over 120k!

Can I provide any useful detail? Of course, test patches are always welcome :)


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