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Apr012012

Sharp utilization thresholds for some real-time scheduling problems

Sathish Gopalakrishnan
ACM SIGMETRICS Performance Evaluation Review
April 2012

Abstract
Scheduling policies for real-time systems exhibit threshold behavior that is related to the utilization of the task set they schedule, and in some cases this threshold is sharp. A task set is considered schedulable if it can be scheduled to meet all associated deadlines. A schedulability test for a chosen policy is a test of feasibility: given a task set, can all deadlines be met? For the rate monotonic scheduling policy, we show that periodic workload with utilization less than a threshold URM can be scheduled almost surely and that all workload with utilization greater than URM is almost surely not schedulable. We study such sharp threshold behavior in the context of processor scheduling using static task priorities, not only for periodic real-time tasks but for aperiodic real-time tasks as well. The notion of a utilization threshold provides a simple schedulability test for most real-time applications. These results improve our understanding of scheduling policies and provide an interesting characterization of the typical behavior of policies. The threshold is sharp (small deviations around the threshold cause schedulability, as a property, to appear or disappear) for most policies; this is a happy consequence that can be used to address the limitations of existing utilization-based tests for schedulability. We demonstrate the use of such an approach for balancing power consumption with the need to meet deadlines in web servers.

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