The Scheduler - by Dave Westbury
Having disassembled part of JS QDOS many years ago to get an idea of exactly how it worked, I jotted down an algorithm of how the scheduler performed its task. Thought some readers might find the following interesting.
The scheduler is the part of the operating system which controls the executing and scheduling of all the jobs in the machine. It is normally called every time a frame interrupt occurs (approx every 1/50th second), or indirectly after other certain operating system routines have been used (Traps). Apart from switching the processor from the current job to the next deserving processor time (based on priority) it also deals with waiting input/output. Since this function makes the system more efficient I’ll explain it in more detail.
To save a job wasting time (ie, using a whole processor time slice of 20mS) for things like; waiting for the user to press a key (input), or to send a byte to SER (eg, output to printer) QDOS allows a job to be suspended and its waiting input/output attempted by the scheduler. To do this, every time a job requests an input/output operation to be done (through a previously opened channel), the job is required to specify a ‘timeout’ for the operation. Each time the scheduler attempts the jobs input/output it decrements this timeout according to the number of frame interrupts that (may) have occurred since the last attempt. If it never gets done in the time allocated it returns its request as incomplete, otherwise the operation is done and (in both cases) the job is released from suspension so that it can continue. As a frame interrupt normally occurs every 20mS this timeout figure thus specifies how long in 1/50ths of a second it has to do the operation. Instead of giving a finite timeout most jobs usually give -1, which means wait until the operation is done else wait forever.
For example the SuperBasic function INKEY$ requires a timeout to be specified, this is used directly in the call to get a key from a channel opened to the device ‘con’. Eg, a$=INKEY$(50) means wait for up to 1 second for a key to be pressed else return, (incomplete in this case returns an empty string). Thus using -1 means wait forever if no key pressed. Since infinite timeouts in jobs can cause a job to be suspended forever if they never can do the input or output operation, SuperBasic has a special key to force an abort for any of its input/output operations ie, the ‘break’ key CTRL SPACE.
If we could likewise specify timeouts on PRINTing in SuperBasic (like other jobs can) we could write programs (or compile them) such that it would be possible to detect when we have been unable to print to our buried job windows. eg, “here’s the answer you wanted, but if I find I’m buried (ie, times out incomplete) I’ll tell you later when I’m not buried, but in the meantime I’ll get on with something else rather than wait idly by in suspension”.
The scheduler also performs some other housekeeping tasks on the computer ie, flash the cursor, service any SER transmit, and any other tasks that may be linked in to be done when the scheduler is run. For example, a task could be set up to release the buffer memory used after a previously closed output channel’s data has all been sent to the device, or any other (User mode) task a job might like to link in to be done periodically rather than depend on the job being in a position to do it.
The scheduler decides which job is next in line for the processor by looking at information stored in the header added to each job currently in the machine (including SuperBASIC). The jobs registers (ie, the CPU state for that job) are stored in this header whilst the job is waiting for its slice of processor time.
Along with other parameters in the job header, which are used by the job control routines of QDOS, are the four which the scheduler inspects and updates in turn for each job to find out which job merits control of the processor next :
|JB.PRIOR||This holds the jobs current running total of ‘priority’ points. Whosoever is the highest after the job table has been scanned has the processor next. (The job who had the processor last automatically has this reset to 1 beforehand).|
|JB.PRINC||This is the actual job priority. This gets set as required either when a job is started (defaults to 32 if started by SuperBASIC) or it can be changed whilst the job is running (ie, MT.PRIOR or Toolkit 2 command SPJOB). A priority of 0 means the job is inactive (not the same as suspended, whereby the priority setting is retained). It is used as the priority increment; each time the scheduler scans for the next job it adds this figure to JB.PRIOR (JB.PRIOR never exceeds 255).|
|JB.STAT||The status of this particular job. It can have the values in the table below. A job can be suspended for a finite time if required (ie, made idle). The timeout until reactivation, which is stored here (as does the timeout for waiting input/output), gets decremented for each frame interrupt until it reaches 0. Only jobs with a JB.STAT of 0 are considered eligible for ‘next’ job. Jobs at -1 are either waiting forever for their input/output or have been suspended indefinitely (ie, MT.SUSJB), -2 means this job has been suspended until another has finished (ie, like EXEC_W from SuperBASIC).|
|JB.HOLD||Location to be cleared when this job is released from suspension (equals 0 if not required). This can be used, if required, to let another job know when this job has timed out of suspension.|
|>0||Delay time to reactivation|
|-2||Waiting for another job to complete|
Another parameter taken into account when the scheduler is run is the system variable SV.POLLM, this figure is incremented every time a frame interrupt is serviced. The scheduler uses the value of this variable to decrement any positive value found in a job’s JB.STAT (SV.POLLM is reset to zero once used). Because the scheduler is normally run every time a frame interrupt occurs SV.POLLM usually has the value 1, but occasions may arise when a frame interrupt doesn’t automatically call the scheduler, this is if the frame interrupt occured whilst the processor was in Supervisor mode (ie, an atomic action). Thus when the scheduler may finally get called SV.POLLM ensures that any job in (finite) suspension gets timed out correctly, the ‘missed’ frame interrupts having been stored in SV.POLLM. Of course it doesn’t stop frame interrupts getting missed when interrupts are turned off ie, for FLP access, network driver etc!
The process the scheduler goes through whenever it is called can now be illustrated by the following algorithm;
Entry; Frame interrupt in User mode, or After certain non-atomic TRAP calls If current job's JB.PRIOR <> 0 THEN JB.PRIOR = 1 Save current jobs registers in its header D3 = SV.POLLM (* re-entry point, see below) SV.POLLM = 0 Increment SV.RAND (psuedo random number) Do scheduler linked list; * Flash cursor * Do any SER transmit * Do any waiting input/output (ie, scan the channel table) * Do any other externally linked in tasks Set D1 = 0 (highest JB.PRIOR found so far) Set D0 = -2 (to indicate if no 'next' job found)
Now a search for the next possible job is done by interrogating each job’s header. The job table is searched from the entry of the (last) current job +1 to the end of the table, and then from the start of the table back upto the entry for the last job.
REPeat for each valid job in table IF JB.PRINC = 0 (inactive) THEN ignore, look at next job. IF JB.STAT < 0 (suspended) THEN ignore, look at next job. IF JB.STAT > 0 (waiting I/O or idle) JB.STAT = JB.STAT - D3 (ie, old SV.POLLM) IF JB.STAT > 0 THEN ignore, look at next job JB.STAT = 0 (in case overshot out-of-time) IF JB.HOLD <> 0 THEN clear location pointed to by JB.HOLD END IF IF JB.PRIOR = 0 (ie, when MT.PRIOR done) JB.PRIOR = 1 ELSE JB.PRIOR = JB.PRIOR + JB.PRINC IF JB.PRIOR > 255 THEN JB.PRIOR = 255 IF JB.PRIOR > D1 D1 = JB.PRIOR D0 = this job header location END IF END IF END REPeat for each valid job in table
After the job table has been scanned the next job is deemed to be the one pointed to by D0 which has the (first found) highest accumulated priority (D1). The jobs registers are then unloaded from job header and put back into the processor and control handed to the job until the next frame interrupt.
If no suitable job is found (D0=-2) then the scheduler is re entered (at *) until one is found. Although this might appear unlikely, ie, no job wants a slice of processor time, in fact it happens quite often. Most jobs spend their time waiting for the user! (ie, the scheduler is doing their pending input/output attempts whilst JB.STAT >0 and the job has a channel open with pending action). It reminds of the time when logging off a computer terminal used to generate the report; “You have been logged on 2 hours 47 minutes and you have used 11.31 seconds of processor time”!
The following simple SuperBASIC program illustrates how assigning different priorities to jobs affects how much processor time is apportioned to each, you may be surprised at the results. For example, it is better to assign two competing jobs priorities of 2 and 64, rather than 8 and 127 respectively, if you wish give one job more precedence over the other.
At the prompt for each of the five example jobs input a priority of between 0 and 127 (ENTER alone =0, ie, to represent an inactive or suspended job). Change the value used in the INKEY$ function (line 230) to speed up/slow down the update rate (0-25). Notice some low priority jobs hardly get a look-in on the processor until quite a time has elapsed, their low priority increment takes quite a time to build up their job merit. After an erratic start the percentage figures should settle down to reflect the long term proportion of processor time assigned to the job (use CTRL F5, as usual, to momentarily freeze the display if necessary).
The SuperBASIC program mimics quite closely what actually happens on a JS QDOS machine (standard QL or with SGC/GC). Some of the behaviour was so unexpected at first I didn’t believe it until I ran some machine code tasks specially written to confirm it. For example if you only have two active jobs running with priorities a factor of two apart (eg, 64/32, 16/8 etc) then they end up both getting half the total processor time slices each. If one priority is changed by just 1 (ie, priorities 65 and 32) then the ratio becomes the expected 2:1 (approx). Once other jobs become active (at the same time), this behaviour (of 64/32 etc) changes to reflect the true priority spread.
The Minerva scheduler appears to have a slightly different action. Although it still exhibits the same effect as mentioned above it doesn’t drop off when you have, say, five jobs with priorities; 1,2,4,8 and 16 (or similar). The SuperBASIC program shows that in this case (as with a real JS with SGC/GC), the lowest two jobs get the same amount of processor time (ie, approx 6%,6%,13%,25% and 50% respectively). With Minerva the time is apportioned as you would expect; 3%,6%,13%,26% and 52%.
If there is any interest I can detail the simple machine code jobs I used (tasks with definable priorities) in another article. I have yet to get around to delving into Minerva’s background priorities and the SMSQ’s scheduler with its definable IO_PRIORITY (retry loading for waiting input/output).
Note that any jobs waiting for input/ouput on a real machine are effectively suspended (ie, SuperBASIC waiting at cursor).
100 ch%=FOPEN('con') : PAPER#ch%;4 : INK#ch%;0 : BORDER#ch%;8,4 110 DIM jp%(4),ap%(4),jx%(4) 120 REPeat main 130 CLS#ch% : t%=0 : c%=-1 140 FOR n=0 TO 4 150 INPUT#ch%;'Job '&n&' priority :'!a$ 160 IF a$='' THEN jp%(n)=0 : ELSE jp%(n)=a$ 170 ap%(n)=1 : jx%(n)=0 180 END FOR n 190 CLS#ch% : PRINT#ch%;'Job Priority','Processor time'\\ 200 FOR n=0 TO 4 : PRINT#ch%;' ';n,jp%(n)\\ 210 PRINT#ch%\\'Press ESCape to STOP, any other key to re run' 220 REPeat show 230 a$=INKEY$(10) : IF CODE(a$)=27 THEN CLOSE#ch% : STOP 240 IF CODE(a$) THEN EXIT show : ELSE t%=t%+1 250 AT#ch%;0,34 : PRINT#ch%;t% : h%=0 : j%=-1 : p=1 260 FOR n=c%+1 TO 4, 0 TO c% 270 IF jp%(n) 280 ap%(n)=ap%(n)+jp%(n) : IF ap%(n)>255 THEN ap%(n)=255 290 IF ap%(n)>h% THEN h%=ap%(n) : j%=n 300 END IF 310 END FOR n 320 IF j%>-1 330 jx%(j%)=jx%(j%)+1 : c%=j% : ap%(c%)=1 340 p=0 : FOR n=0 TO 4 : p=p+jx%(n) 350 END IF 360 FOR n=0 TO 4 370 z=100*jx%(n)/p : z%=INT(z*2) : y%=20+n*20 380 AT#ch%;n*2+2,15 : PRINT#ch%;FDEC$(z,6,2);'%' 390 BLOCK#ch%;z%,10,140,y%,7 400 BLOCK#ch%;200-z%,10,140+z%,y%,0 410 END FOR n 420 END REPeat show 430 END REPeat main
00936 jsr $000009D4(PC) save current job/check JB.PRIOR 0093A move.w $0030(a6),d3 get lost polls, SV.POLLM 0093E clr.w $0030(a6) zero SV.POLLM 00942 addq.w #$01,$002E(a6) increment SV.RAND 00946 moveq #-$10,d0 link offset 00948 movea.l $0040(a6),a0 SV.SHLST 0094C jsr $00000A9E(PC) do scheduler task list ie; $120A flash cursor $2D14 as transmit interrupt $3488 do waiting I/O 00950 jsr $00000A0C(PC) do job table 00954 tst.l d0 d0=-2 if no active job! 00956 blt.s $0000093A try again... 00958 move.l d0,$0064(a6) update SV.JBPNT to new job 0095C jsr $00000A78(PC) rte by restore to next active job 00960 jsr $000003BC(PC) 00964 move.w d3,$0014(a0) 00968 move.l a1,$000C(a0) 0096C moveq #$00,d0 0096E bra $00000936 * Save current job details 009D4 move.l a6,-(a7) 009D6 movea.l $0064(a6),a6 SV.JBPNT current job table entry 009DA movea.l (a6),a6 current job header 009DC tst.b $0012(a6) JB.PRIOR current job 009E0 beq.s $000009E8 branch if 0 009E2 move.b #$01,$0012(a6) else reduce to 1 009E8 movem.l d0-d7/a0-a4,$0020(a6) save jobs registers 009EE move.l (a5)+,$003C(a6) d7 009F2 move.l (a5)+,$0054(a6) a5 009F6 move.l (a5)+,$0058(a6) a6 009FA move USP,a0 009FC move.l a0,$005C(a6) a7=USP 00A00 move.w (a5)+,$0060(a6) SR 00A04 move.l (a5)+,$0062(a6) PC 00A08 movea.l (a7)+,a6 Restore a6 with $28000 00A0A rts * Go through job table 00A0C moveq #-$02,d0 nul job table entry return code 00A0E moveq #$00,d1 highest JB.PRIOR found 00A10 movea.l $0064(a6),a2 SV.JBPNT current job entry 00A14 movea.l a2,a4 00A16 move.w $0062(a6),d2 SV.JBMAX highest ever job no. 00A1A lsl.w #$02,d2 00A1C movea.l $0068(a6),a3 SV.JBBAS base of job table 00A20 adda.w d2,a3 a3 = table entry SV.JBMAX 00A22 addq.w #$04,a2 next table entry 00A24 cmpa.l a3,a2 00A26 ble.s $00000A2C do each entry till top 00A28 movea.l $0068(a6),a2 then wrap round to base 00A2C tst.b (a2) 00A2E blt.s $00000A72 branch if job invalid, 'FF000000' 00A30 movea.l (a2),a0 get job header 00A32 tst.b $0013(a0) JB.PRINC 00A36 beq.s $00000A72 if inactive (=0) ignore, get next 00A38 tst.w $0014(a0) JB.STAT 00A3C beq.s $00000A54 branch if active (=0) 00A3E blt.s $00000A72 if suspended or waiting, get next 00A40 sub.w d3,$0014(a0) else deduct lost polls SV.POLLM 00A44 bgt.s $00000A72 if frames left, do next job 00A46 clr.w $0014(a0) else timeout expired 00A4A move.l $000C(a0),d2 JB.HOLD 00A4E beq.s $00000A54 branch if no location to clear 00A50 movea.l d2,a1 00A52 sf (a1) clear job waiting flag location 00A54 move.b $0012(a0),d2 ; if JB.PRIOR = 0, set to 1 00A58 beq.s $00000A64 ; else add JB.PRINC 00A5A add.b $0013(a0),d2 ; if >255 set to 255 00A5E bcc.s $00000A66 ; else set to result 00A60 st d2 ; 00A62 bra.s $00000A66 ; 00A64 moveq #$01,d2 ; 00A66 move.b d2,$0012(a0) Update JB.PRIOR 00A6A cmp.b d1,d2 highest JB.PRIOR to this JB.PRIOR 00A6C bls.s $00000A72 if not higher branch 00A6E move.l a2,d0 highest job table entry to d0 00A70 move.b d2,d1 this now highest JB.PRIOR 00A72 cmpa.l a4,a2 done all entries in job table ? 00A74 bne.s $00000A22 00A76 rts * Restore to next job 00A78 movea.l $0064(a6),a0 SV.JBPNT 00A7C movea.l (a0),a0 00A7E adda.w #$0016,a7 reset SSP stack 00A82 move.l $0062(a0),-(a7) JB.PC to SSP 00A86 move.w $0060(a0),-(a7) JB.SR to SSP 00A8A move.l $001C(a0),$0050(a6) JB.TRAPV to SV.TRAPV 00A90 movea.l $005C(a0),a1 JB.A7 00A94 move a1,USP 00A96 movem.l $0020(a0),d0-d7/a0-a6 get jobs previous regs back 00A9C rte * Do linkage block list 00A9E move.w d0,-(a7) stack offset 00AA0 movea.l a0,a3 link block base address 00AA2 adda.w (a7),a3 set up a3 to link with offset 00AA4 move.l a0,-(a7) stack current link address 00AA6 beq.s $00000ABC empty or finished list ? 00AA8 move.w d3,-(a7) stack current flag (?) 00AAA andi.w #$007F,d3 mask flag (?) 00AAE movea.l $0004(a0),a0 get link start address 00AB2 jsr (a0) go do link routine 00AB4 move.w (a7)+,d3 restore flag (?) 00AB6 movea.l (a7)+,a0 restore last link done 00AB8 movea.l (a0),a0 address of next link 00ABA bra.s $00000AA0 do next link 00ABC addq.l #$06,a7 clear stack 00ABE rts