Implementation and experimental performance evaluation of a hybrid interrupt-handling scheme

K. Salah, A. Qahtan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The performance of network hosts can be severely degraded when subjected to heavy traffic of today's Gigabit networks. This degradation occurs as a result of the interrupt overhead associated with the high rate of packet arrivals. NAPI, a packet reception mechanism integrated into the latest version of Linux networking subsystem, was designed to improve Linux performance to suit today's Gigabit traffic. NAPI is definitely a major step up from earlier reception mechanisms; however, NAPI has shortcomings and its performance can be further enhanced. A hybrid interrupt-handling scheme, which was recently proposed in Salah et al. [K. Salah, K. El-Badawi, F. Haidari, Performance Analysis and Comparison of Interrupt-Handling Schemes in Gigabit Networks, International Journal of Computer Communications, Elsevier, Amsterdam 30 (17) (2007) 3425-3441], can better improve the performance of Gigabit network hosts. The hybrid scheme switches between interrupt disabling-enabling (DE) and polling (NAPI). In this paper, we present and discuss major changes required to implement such a hybrid scheme in the latest version of Linux kernel 2.6.15. We prove experimentally that the hybrid scheme can significantly improve the performance of general-purpose network desktops or servers running network I/O-bound applications, when subjecting such network hosts to both light and heavy traffic load conditions. The performance is measured and analyzed in terms of throughput, packet loss, latency, and CPU availability.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)179-188
Number of pages10
JournalComputer Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 23 Jan 2009


  • High-speed networks
  • Interrupts
  • Linux
  • NAPI
  • Operating systems


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