Tuesday, 6 January 2009

What is SOS? part II

Part 1 Part 3

Resource Ownership Model

SOS implements an extensible resource ownership module. System resources such as memory, IPC 'mailboxes', semaphores and any user-defined resource are owned by either a loaded module or a running process. Process death results in process owned resources being freed. Module unload results in module owned resources being freed. Processes are owned by Modules.

Since all processes in SOS share memory by default (more like threads in other OS), a mechanism for cleaning up resources on process death is very useful.

Applications can arrange to have their own resources owned by a process or a module using a mechanism confusingly called 'Events'. This mechanism guarantees a callback on process death or module unload allowing arbitrary cleanup. This is essential as processes can exit at any point with no stack cleanup due to exceptions (divide by zero, bus error etc.).

Prioritised proportional scheduling

SOS processes are each placed in a process class. Each class has a guaranteed share of CPU where all process class shares sum to 100% of available CPU. Additionally, all process classes have a relative priority.

The scheduler chooses which process to run next based on answering the question "What is the highest priority class with both a runnable process and time left in it's CPU share?".

The guaranteed share mechanism is used to ensure that all process classes regularly get some share of CPU time even in a heavily loaded system, while still providing priority to high urgency tasks. This allows the system to avoid throughput or latency degradation as load increases.

The placement of processes into process classes is generally fixed at design time. The set of process class guaranteed shares (called a scheduler template) is also generally fixed, but is changed between restarts and normal operation.

Application control of scheduler pre-emption

The SOS scheduler implements pre-emptive multitasking on a single CPU core, changing the running process periodically. Processes can temporarily stop pre-emption occurring via the rather wordy setunpreemptable() call. This can be used to demarcate critical regions in code, where atomic actions are performed. All other processes can only observe the state of memory before the call to setunpreemptable(), or after a call to setpreemptable().

Since all other processes are excluded from running while the current process is unpreemptable, it is important that only bounded amounts of computation are performed while unpreemptable. To enforce this, SOS implements an unpreemptable timer, of the order of tens of milliseconds which stops the running process with an exception if it remains unpreemptable for longer than this. For this reason, activities like blocking IO and dynamic memory allocation cannot reliably be performed while unpreemptable.

Most applications are collections of message driven state machines, and run unpre-emptably in bursts, processing messages, updating state and sending responses.
As well as giving low-overhead mutual exclusion, making applications non-blocking with control over pre-emption maximises the instruction cache hit rate and improves data cache locality.

That's enough for now, I'm boring myself !