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Arachne: Towards Core-Aware Scheduling

What is core aware scheduling?

In today's large-scale data center systems, there are many complex software components which make a binary trade-off between latency and throughput. They either overprovision their systems to obtain lower latencies and consequently waste resources, or oversubscribe their systems and experience very high latencies due to imbalance between application load and system resources.

Core-aware scheduling is the notion that we can balance an application's offered load to a system's available resources by scheduling threads at user level, and performing coarse-grained core allocation at operating system level.

Under this approach, the kernel no longer preemptively multiplexes between threads without any awareness of what the application is doing. This enables us to avoid the performance degradations caused by slow context switches, priority inversion, and cache pollution from the threads of other processes.

What is Arachne?

According to Greek mythology, Arachne was a mortal weaver who challenged the goddess Athena to a weaving competition. Similarly, the Arachne user threading system attempts to challenge the current dominance of kernel threads in the C++ world.

Arachne is the first step towards core-aware scheduling, allowing an application to run only as many threads in parallel as cores available to it.

Arachne is a user-level, cooperative thread management system written in C++, designed to improve core utilization and maximize throughput in server applications without impacting latency. It performs M:N scheduling over kernel threads running exclusively on CPU cores and features ~200 ns cross-core thread creations and ~100 ns cross-core signals on Nehalem X3470. Arachne also estimates CPU load and adjusts the number of cores accordingly.

How do I use it?

  1. Recursively clone Arachne super repository.

     git clone --recursive
  2. Build the library with ./ in the top level directory.

     cd arachne-all
  3. Write your application using the public Arachne API, documented here.

    #include <stdio.h>
    #include "Arachne/Arachne.h"

    void numberPrinter(int n) {
        printf("NumberPrinter says %d\n", n);

    // This is where user code should start running.
    void AppMain(int argc, const char** argv) {
        printf("Arachne says hello world and creates a thread.\n");
        auto tid = Arachne::createThread(numberPrinter, 5);

    // The following bootstrapping code should be copied verbatim into most Arachne
    // applications.
    void AppMainWrapper(int argc, const char** argv) {
        AppMain(argc, argv);
    int main(int argc, const char** argv){
        Arachne::init(&argc, argv);
        Arachne::createThread(&AppMainWrapper, argc, argv);
  1. Link your application against Arachne.

     g++ -std=c++11 -o MyApp  -Iarachne-all/Arachne/include -Iarachne-all/CoreArbiter/include  -Iarachne-all/PerfUtils/include -Larachne-all/Arachne/lib -lArachne -Larachne-all/CoreArbiter/lib -lCoreArbiter -Larachne-all/PerfUtils/lib/ -lPerfUtils  -lpcrecpp -pthread

User Threading vs Kernel Threadpool

For those who are unfamiliar with the benefits of user threading, it may seem that a simple kernel thread pool would achieve the same result as a user threading library. However, tasks running in a kernel thread pool generally should not block at user level, so they must run to completion without blocking.

Here is an example of a use case that would require manual stack ripping in a thread pool, but could be implemented as a single function under Arachne.