Tag Archives: kernel

Threadripper / Epyc processor core optimization

I had a pet project (folding@home) where I wanted to maximize computing power. I became frustrated with default CPU scheduling of my folding@home threads. Ideal performance would keep similar threads on the same CPU, but the threads were jumping all over the place, which was impacting performance.

Step one was to figure out which threads belonged to which physical cores. I found on this site that you can use cat to find out what your “sibling threads” are:

cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu{0..15}/topology/thread_siblings_list

The above command is for my Threadripper & Epyc systems, which each have 16 cores hyperthreaded to 32 cores. Adjust the {0..15} number to match your number of cores (core 0 being the fist core.) This was my output:

cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu{0..15}/topology/thread_siblings_list


Now that I know the sibling threads are offset by 16, I can use this information to optimize my folding@home VMs. I modified my CPU pinning script to take this into consideration. The script ensures that each VM is pinned to only use sibling threads (ensuring they all stay on the same physical CPU.)

This script should be used with caution. It pins processes to specific CPUs, which limits the kernel scheduler’s ability to move things around if needed. If configured badly this can cause the machine to lock up or VMs to be terminated.

I saw some impressive results spinning up four separate 8 core VMs and pinning them to sibling cores using this script. It almost doubled the rate at which I completed folding@home work units.

And now, the script:

#Properly assign CPU cores to their respective die for EPYC/Threadripper systems
#Based on how hyperthreads are done in these systems
#cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu{0..15}/topology/thread_siblings_list

#The script takes two arguments - the ID of the Proxmox VM to modify, and the core to begin the VM on
#If running this against multiple VMs, make sure to increment this second number by half of the cores of the previous VM
#For example, if I have one 8 core VM and I run this script specifying 0 for the offset, if I spin up a second VM, the second argument would be 4
#this would ensure the second VM starts on core 4 (the 5th core) and assigns sibling cores to match

set -eo pipefail

#take First argument as which VMID to pin CPU cores to, the second argument is which core to start pinning to

#Determine offset for sibling threads
SIBLING_THREAD_OFFSET=$(cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/topology/thread_siblings_list| sed 's/,/ /g' | awk '{print $2}')

#Function to determine number of CPU cores a VM has
cpu_tasks() {
	expect <<EOF | sed -n 's/^.* CPU .*thread_id=\(.*\)$/\1/p' | tr -d '\r' || true
spawn qm monitor $VMID
expect ">"
send "info cpus\r"
expect ">"

#Only act if VMID & OFFSET are set
if [[ -z $VMID  || -z $OFFSET ]]
	echo "Usage: cpupin.sh <VMID> <OFFSET>"
	exit 1
	#Get PIDs of each CPU core for VM, count number of VM cores, and get even/odd PIDs for assignment
	VCPU_EVEN_THREADS=($(for EVEN_THREAD in "${VCPUS[@]}"; do echo $EVEN_THREAD; done | awk '!(NR%2)'))
	VCPU_ODD_THREADS=($(for ODD_THREAD in "${VCPUS[@]}"; do echo $ODD_THREAD; done | awk '(NR%2)'))

	if [[ $VCPU_COUNT -eq 0 ]]; then
		echo "* No VCPUS for VM$VMID"
		exit 1

	echo "* Detected ${#VCPUS[@]} assigned to VM$VMID..."
	echo "* Resetting cpu shield..."

	#Start at offset CPU number, assign odd numbered PIDs to their own CPU thread, then increment CPU core number
	#0-3 if offset is 0, 4-7 if offset is 4, etc
	for PID in "${VCPU_ODD_THREADS[@]}"
		echo "* Assigning ODD thread $ODD_CPU_INDEX to $PID..."
		taskset -pc "$ODD_CPU_INDEX" "$PID"

	#Start at offset + CPU count, assign even number PIDs to their own CPU thread, then increment CPU core number
	#16-19 if offset is 0,	20-23 if offset is 4, etc
	for PID in "${VCPU_EVEN_THREADS[@]}"
		echo "* Assigning EVEN thread $EVEN_CPU_INDEX to $PID..."
		taskset -pc "$EVEN_CPU_INDEX" "$PID"

Fix Proxmox swapping issue

I recently had an issue with one of my Proxmox hosts where it would max out all swap and slow down to a crawl despite having plenty of physical memory free. After digging and tweaking, I found this post which directed to set the kernel swappiness setting to 0. More reading suggested I should set it to 1, which is what I did.

Append to /etc/sysctl.conf:

#Fix excessive swap usage
vm.swappiness = 1 

Apply settings with:

sysctl --system

This did the trick for me.

Slow Linux VM performance in VMware vSphere

Recently I’ve been scratching my head over a particular performance issue with Linux VMs hosted on VMWare vSphere. Everything seemed to move at a glacial pace.

vmstat gave a few clues as to what was happening, although depending on what I read it still wasn’t clear:


It became apparent that I was suffering from some kind of queuing problem. I wasn’t sure if it was CPU or disk related. I came across this post which has a lot of good performance tuning guides.This tip caught my eye:


7. Set your disk scheduling algorithm to ‘noop’

The Linux kernel has different ways to schedule disk I/O, using schedulers like deadline, cfq, and noop. The ‘noop’ — No Op — scheduler does nothing to optimize disk I/O. So why is this a good thing? Because ESX is also doing I/O optimization and queuing! It’s better for a guest OS to just hand over all the I/O requests to the hypervisor to sort out than to try optimizing them itself and potentially defeating the more global optimizations.

You can change the kernel’s disk scheduler at boot time by appending:


to the kernel parameters in /etc/grub.conf.

Sure enough, I modified /boot/grub/grub.conf on my Centos 6 boxes and appended elevator=noop to the kernel line, then rebooted. It helped a lot! Performance no longer was pitiful. I’m not nearly as familiar with vmware as I am with Xenserver so this was a good hint.