In the context of high-performance computing (HPC), the Operating System Noise (osnoise) refers to the interference experienced by an application due to activities inside the operating system. In the context of Linux, NMIs, IRQs, softirqs, and any other system thread can cause noise to the application. Moreover, hardware-related jobs can also cause noise, for example, via SMIs.
HPC users and developers that care about every microsecond stolen by the OS need not only a precise way to measure the osnoise but mainly to figure out who is stealing cpu time so that they can pursue the perfect tune of the system. These users and developers are the inspiration of Linux’s osnoise tracer. The osnoise tracer runs an in-kernel loop measuring how much time is available. It does it with preemption, softirq and IRQs enabled, thus allowing all the sources of osnoise during its execution.
The osnoise tracer takes note of the entry and exit point of any source of interferences. When the noise happens without any interference from the operating system level, the tracer can safely point to a hardware-related noise. In this way, osnoise can account for any source of interference. The osnoise tracer also adds new kernel tracepoints that auxiliaries the user to point to the culprits of the noise in a precise and intuitive way.
At the end of a period, the osnoise tracer prints the sum of all noise, the max single noise, the percentage of CPU available for the thread, and the counters for the noise sources, serving as a benchmark tool.