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From fast to predictably fast
Dominic Duval (email@example.com)
Many software applications used in finance, telecommunications, the military, and other industries have extremely demanding timing requirements. Forcing an application to wait for a few extra milliseconds can cause vast sums of money to be lost on the stock markets, important phone calls to be dropped, or an industrial welding laser to miss its target. Highly specialized realtime operating systems have historically been the only way to guarantee that timing constraints would always be respected.
Several enhancements to the Linux kernel have recently made it possible to achieve predictable, guaranteed response times. The Linux kernel is now--more than ever before--well equipped to compete with other realtime operating systems. However, applications may still need to be modified and adjusted in order to run predictably and fully benefit from these realtime extensions. This paper describes our findings, experiences and best practices in reducing latency in user-space applications. This discussion focuses on how applications can optimize the realtime extensions available in the Linux kernel, but is also relevant to any software developer who may be concerned with application response times.