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Subject[ANNOUNCE] Interbench v0.20 - Interactivity benchmark
	Interbench - The Linux Interactivity Benchmark v0.20

direct download link:


This benchmark application is designed to benchmark interactivity in Linux.

Interactivity, what is it?

There has been a lot of talk about what makes up a nice feeling desktop under
linux. It comes down to two different but intimately related parameters which
are not well defined. We often use the terms responsiveness and interactivity
in the same sentence, but I'd like to separate the two. As there is no formal
definition I prefer to define them as such:

Responsiveness: The rate at which your workloads can proceed under different
load conditions.

Interactivity: The scheduling latency and jitter present in tasks where the
user would notice a palpable deterioration under different load conditions.

Responsiveness would allow you to continue using your machine without too much
interruption to your work, whereas interactivity would allow you to play audio
or video without any dropouts, or drag a gui window across the screen and have
it render smoothly across the screen without jerks .

Contest was a benchmark originally written by me to test system
responsiveness, and interbench is a benchmark I wrote as a sequel to contest
to test interactivity.

It is designed to measure the effect of changes in Linux kernel design or
configuration changes such as cpu, I/O scheduler and filesystem changes and
options. With careful benchmarking, different hardware can be compared.

What does it do?

It is designed to emulate the cpu scheduling behaviour of interactive tasks
measure their scheduling latency and jitter. It does this with the tasks on
their own and then in the presence of various background loads, both with
configurable nice levels and the benchmarked tasks can be real time.

How does it work?

First it benchmarks how best to reproduce a fixed percentage of cpu usage on
the machine currently being used for the benchmark. It saves this to a file
and then uses this for all subsequent runs to keep the emulation of cpu usage

It runs a real time high priority timing thread that wakes up the thread or
threads of the simulated interactive tasks and then measures the latency in
the time taken to schedule. As there is no accurate timer driven scheduling
in linux the timing thread sleeps as accurately as linux kernel supports, and
latency is considered as the time from this sleep till the simulated task
gets scheduled.

What interactive tasks are simulated and how?

X is simulated as a thread that uses a variable amount of cpu ranging from 0
to 100%. This simulates an idle gui where a window is grabbed and then
dragged across the screen.

Audio is simulated as a thread that tries to run at 50ms intervals that then
requires 5% cpu. This behaviour ignores any caching that would normally be
done by well designed audio applications, but has been seen as the interval
used to write to audio cards by a popular linux audio player. It also ignores
any of the effects of different audio drivers and audio cards. Audio can also
be run as a real time SCHED_FIFO task.

Video is simulated as a thread that tries to receive cpu 60 times per second
and uses 40% cpu. This would be quite a demanding video playback at 60fps.
Like the audio simulator it ignores caching, drivers and video cards. As per
audio, video can be run SCHED_FIFO.

What loads are simulated?

Otherwise idle system.

The video simulation thread is also used as a background load.

The X simulation thread is used as a load.

A configurable number of threads fully cpu bound (4 by default).

A streaming write to disk repeatedly of a file the size of physical ram.

Repeatedly reading a file from disk the size of physical ram (to avoid any
caching effects).

Simulating a heavy 'make -j4' compilation by running Burn, Write and Read

Simulating heavy memory and swap pressure by repeatedly accessing 110% of
available ram and moving it around and freeing it.

What is measured and what does it mean?

1. The average scheduling latency (time to requesting cpu till actually
it) of deadlines met during the test period.
2. The scheduling jitter is represented by calculating the standard deviation
of the latency
3. The maximum latency seen during the test period
4. Percentage of desired cpu
5. Percentage of deadlines met.

This data is output to console and saved to a file which is stamped with the
kernel name and date. Use fixed font for clarity:

--- Benchmarking X in the presence of loads ---
Latency +/- SD (ms) Max Latency % Desired CPU % Deadlines Met
None 0.495 +/- 0.495 45 100 96
Video 11.7 +/- 11.7 1815 89.6 62.7
Burn 27.9 +/- 28.1 3335 78.5 44
Write 4.02 +/- 4.03 372 97 78.7
Read 1.09 +/- 1.09 158 99.7 88
Compile 28.8 +/- 28.8 3351 78.2 43.7
Memload 2.81 +/- 2.81 187 98.7 85

What can be seen here is that never during this test run were all the so
called deadlines met by the X simulator, although all the desired cpu was
achieved under no load. In X terms this means that every bit of window
movement was drawn while moving the window, but some were delayed and there
was enough time to catch up before the next deadline. In the 'Burn' column we
can see that only 44% of the deadlines were met, and only 78.5% of the
desired cpu was achieved. This means that some deadlines were so late
(%deadlines met was low) that some redraws were dropped entirely to catch up.
In X terms this would translate into jerky movement, in audio it would be a
skip, and in video it would be a dropped frame. Note that despite the massive
maximum latency of >3seconds, the average latency is still less than 30ms.
This is because redraws are dropped in order to catch up usually by these
sorts of applications.

What is relevant in the data?

The results pessimise quite a lot what happens in real world terms because
they ignore the reality of buffering, but this allows us to pick up subtle
differences more readily. In terms of what would be noticed by the end user,
dropping deadlines would make noticable clicks in audio, subtle visible frame
time delays in video, and loss of "smooth" movement in X. Dropping desired cpu
would be much more noticeable with audio skips, missed video frames or jerks
in window movement under X. The magnitude of these would be best represented
by the maximum latency. When the deadlines are actually met, the average
latency represents how "smooth" it would look. Average humans' limit of
perception for jitter is in the order of 7ms. Trained audio observers might
notice much less.

How to use it?

In response to critisicm of difficulty in setting up my previous benchmark,
contest, I've made this as simple as possible.

Short version:

Longer version:
Build with 'make'. It is a single executable once built so if you desire to
install it simply copy the interbench binary wherever you like.

To get good reproducible data from it you should boot into runlevel one so
that nothing else is running on the machine. All power saving (cpu throttling,
cpu frequency modifications) must be disabled on the first run to get an
accurate measurement for cpu usage. You may enable them later if you are
benchmarking their effect on interactivity on that machine. Root is almost
mandatory for this benchmark, or real time privileges at the very least. You
need free disk space in the directory it is being run in the order of 2* your
physical ram for the disk loads. A default run in v0.20 takes about 15
minutes to complete, longer if your disk is slow.

Command line options supported:
interbench [-l <int>] [-L <int>] [-t <int] [-B <int>] [-N <int>] [-b] [-c]
[-h] [-n] [-r]
-l Use <int> loops per sec (default: use saved benchmark)
-L Use cpu load of <int> with burn load (default: 4)
-t Seconds to run each benchmark (default: 30)
-B Nice the benchmarked thread to <int> (default: 0)
-N Nice the load thread to <int> (default: 0)
-b Benchmark loops_per_ms even if it is already known
-c Output to console only (default: use console and logfile)
-r Perform real time scheduling benchmarks (default: non-rt)
-h Show this help

There is one hidden option which is not supported by default, -u
which emulates a uniprocessor when run on an smp machine. The support for cpu
affinity is not built in by default because there are multiple versions of
the sched_setaffinity call in glibc that not only accept different variable
types but across architectures take different numbers of arguments. For x86
support you can change the '#if 0' in interbench.c to '#if 1' to enable the
affinity support to be built in. The function on x86_64 for those very keen
does not have the sizeof argument.

So how does -ck perform? As much as I'd like to say it was a walkover I have
to admit you need to squint hard to be convinced that -ck is better overall.
Both mainline and -ck perform better in different load settings:

The SCHED_NORMAL nice 0 runs are as below, performed on a pentium M 1.7Ghz:

Benchmarking kernel 2.6.13-rc1 with datestamp 200507121411

--- Benchmarking Audio in the presence of loads ---
Latency +/- SD (ms) Max Latency % Desired CPU % Deadlines Met
None 0.003 +/- 0 0.005 100 100
Video 1.02 +/- 0.487 1.68 100 100
X 1.32 +/- 2.22 10 100 100
Burn 0.518 +/- 306004 52 100 99
Write 0.031 +/- 0.209 2.58 100 100
Read 0.006 +/- 0.00173 0.01 100 100
Compile 4.59 +/- 5.74 426 96.5 94
Memload 0.021 +/- 0.0697 0.659 100 100

--- Benchmarking Video in the presence of loads ---
Latency +/- SD (ms) Max Latency % Desired CPU % Deadlines Met
None 0.003 +/- 0 0.005 100 100
X 3.27 +/- 3.2 41.3 88.8 77.7
Burn 0.003 +/- 0.001 0.005 100 100
Write 0.151 +/- 0.67 50 99.5 99
Read 0.004 +/- 0.00173 0.037 100 100
Compile 0.025 +/- 0.248 4.81 100 100
Memload 0.018 +/- 0.0572 0.715 100 100

--- Benchmarking X in the presence of loads ---
Latency +/- SD (ms) Max Latency % Desired CPU % Deadlines Met
None 0.009 +/- 0.0966 1 100 99
Video 4.46 +/- 4.43 572 91.9 66
Burn 1.58 +/- 1.58 156 100 98
Write 0.002 +/- 0.0237 4 100 98
Read 0.008 +/- 0.0797 15 100 96
Compile 0.009 +/- 0.0896 2 100 99
Memload 0.108 +/- 0.13 10 100 98

Benchmarking kernel 2.6.12-rc6-ck1 with datestamp 200507121345

--- Benchmarking Audio in the presence of loads ---
Latency +/- SD (ms) Max Latency % Desired CPU % Deadlines Met
None 0.003 +/- 0 0.005 100 100
Video 0.003 +/- 0 0.004 100 100
X 2.53 +/- 3.01 11 100 100
Burn 0.294 +/- 1.47 11 100 100
Write 0.025 +/- 0.116 1.02 100 100
Read 0.007 +/- 0.001 0.01 100 100
Compile 0.393 +/- 1.68 11 100 100
Memload 0.095 +/- 0.545 6 100 100

--- Benchmarking Video in the presence of loads ---
Latency +/- SD (ms) Max Latency % Desired CPU % Deadlines Met
None 0.003 +/- 0.00245 0.052 100 100
X 3.57 +/- 3.21 22.7 95.7 91.3
Burn 0.837 +/- 2.49 50 97.7 95.5
Write 0.094 +/- 0.596 16.7 100 99.8
Read 0.005 +/- 0.00872 0.169 100 100
Compile 0.543 +/- 1.91 33.3 98.8 97.7
Memload 0.21 +/- 0.836 16.7 99.7 99.3

--- Benchmarking X in the presence of loads ---
Latency +/- SD (ms) Max Latency % Desired CPU % Deadlines Met
None 0.009 +/- 0.0964 1 100 99
Video 2.31 +/- 2.27 754 90.9 65
Burn 0.129 +/- 0.151 12 100 98
Write 0.069 +/- 0.112 6 100 98
Read 0.009 +/- 0.0896 1 100 99
Compile 0.039 +/- 0.102 3 100 98
Memload 0.004 +/- 0.0408 1 100 99

The full logs are available here (including niced runs and real time runs):

For help from Zwane Mwaikambo, Bert Hubert, Seth Arnold, Rik Van Riel,
Nicholas Miell and John Levon. Aggelos Economopoulos for contest code, and
Bob Matthews for irman (mem_load) code.

This was quite some time in the making... I realise there's so much more that
could be done trying to simulate the interactive tasks and the loads, but
this is a start, it's quite standardised and the results are reproducible.
Adding more code to simulate loads and threads to benchmark is quite easy if
someone wishes to suggest or code up something I'm all ears. Of course
bugfixes, comments and suggestions are most welcome.

Con Kolivas
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