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The performance of parallel applications on large scale systems is shown to disproportionately degrade due to interference from system services. This interference from system services is also known as jitter. However, there is limited understanding of sources and patterns of jitter on multi-core systems. In this paper, we identify and characterize jitter sources in terms of their amplitude and execution interval distributions on multi-core IBM Power systems with UNIX-based general purpose operating systems: AIX and Linux. Our analysis shows that there are various kinds of jitter sources and their execution varies drastically between different cores and between hardware threads within each core for practical reasons. This in-depth knowledge of jitter events is leveraged to devise effective approaches to mitigate the jitter impact on application performance in large scale systems. Moreover, such knowledge would provide useful insights to a new generation of operating system designs such as multikernel or satellite kernel for multi-core systems.

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