Fast Switching of Threads Between Cores

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Executive Summary

The authors address the software costs of switching threads between cores in a multicore processor. Fast core switching enables a variety of potential improvements, such as thread migration for thermal management, ne-grained load balancing, and exploiting asymmetric multicores, where performance asymmetry creates opportunities for more efficient resource utilization. Successful exploitation of these opportunities demands low core-switching costs. They describe the implementation of core switching in the Linux kernel, as well as software changes that can decrease switching costs. They use detailed simulations to evaluate several alternative implementations. They also explore how some simple architectural variations can reduce switching costs. They evaluate system efficiency using both real (But symmetric) hardware, and simulated asymmetric hardware, using both microbenchmarks and realistic applications.

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