How can this 'top' command output make sense? Load over 7 and total CPU use ~5%

Glen Barber glen.j.barber at
Mon May 25 19:31:25 UTC 2009

On Mon, May 25, 2009 at 3:24 PM, Wojciech Puchar
<wojtek at> wrote:
>> The CPU will perform the same, whether at 10% utilization, or at 100%
>> utilization, the system however won't.
>> That's the difference between load and utilization.
> still don't understand you.
> CPU will not perform the same at 10% utilization, it will perform 10 times
> less than at 100% utilization.

You are assuming this based on what?

> CPU load == CPU utilization == how big percentage of time CPU (or CPUs by
> average) are doing anything except being in idle loop or hlt/waiting for
> interrupt.
> it's exactly the same words in that context.

Not true.  top(1) can fully utilize the CPU.  Doing so does not put
the system under full load.

> load average is how much processes (by average) is not doing calculations
> because something is not yet available and depends of computer resources(*)
> - like CPU time, disk I/O results etc..
> (*) - for example waiting on tty read is not calculated to load average as
> it's depends on human not computer.


Glen Barber

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