getiopolicy_np(3) BSD Library Functions Manual getiopolicy_np(3)
getiopolicy_np, setiopolicy_np -- manipulate the I/O policy of a process or thread
Standard C Library (libc, -lc)
getiopolicy_np(int iotype, int scope);
setiopolicy_np(int iotype, int scope, int policy);
The getiopolicy_np() and setiopolicy_np() functions are provided to get or set the I/O policies of the current process or the current thread.
The policy of the I/O of the given type iotype can be get or set for the given scope.
The I/O type is specified in the argument iotype. The currently supported I/O type is IOPOL_TYPE_DISK, which means the I/O policy for I/Os
to local disks can be get or set. I/Os to local disks are I/Os sent to the media without going through a network, including I/Os to internal
and external hard drives, optical media in internal and external drives, flash drives, floppy disks, ram disks, and mounted disk images which
reside on these media, but not including remote volumes mounted through networks (AFP, SMB, NFS, etc) or disk images residing on remote vol-
The scope that the I/O policy takes effect is specified in the argument scope as follows:
IOPOL_SCOPE_PROCESS The I/O policy of all I/Os issued by the current process is get or set.
IOPOL_SCOPE_THREAD The I/O policy of all I/Os issued by the current thread is get or set.
In getiopolicy_np(), the I/O policy of the given I/O type and scope is returned. In setiopolicy_np(), the argument policy is an integer
which contains the new I/O policy to be set for the given I/O type and scope. Policy can have the following values:
IOPOL_IMPORTANT I/Os with the IMPORTANT policy are unrestricted. This policy should only be used for I/Os that are critical to system
responsiveness. This is the default I/O policy for new threads.
IOPOL_STANDARD The STANDARD policy is for work requested by the user, but that is not the user's current focus. I/Os with this policy may
be delayed slightly to allow IMPORTANT I/Os to complete quickly.
IOPOL_UTILITY The UTILITY policy is for short-running background work. I/Os with this policy are throttled to prevent a significant
impact on the latency of IMPORTANT and STANDARD I/Os.
IOPOL_THROTTLE The THROTTLE policy is for long-running I/O intensive background work, such as backups, search indexing, or file synchro-
nization. I/Os with this policy will be throttled to avoid impacting performance of higher priority I/Os.
IOPOL_PASSIVE The PASSIVE I/Os are a special type of I/O that are ignored by the other policies so that the threads issuing lower prior-
ity I/Os are not slowed down by PASSIVE I/Os. The PASSIVE I/O policy is useful for server type applications. The I/Os
generated by these applications are called passive I/Os because these I/Os are caused directly or indirectly by the I/O
requests they receive from client applications. For example, when an image file is mounted by DiskImages, DiskImages gen-
erate passive I/Os. DiskImages should mark these I/Os using the PASSIVE I/O policy so that when client applications that
access the volume managed by DiskImages, these client applications will not be slowed down by the I/Os generated by DiskIm-
I/Os with the STANDARD, UTILITY, and THROTTLE policies are called throttleable I/Os and are of decreasing priority. If a throttleable
request occurs within a small time window of a request of higher priority, the thread that issued the throttleable I/O is forced to a sleep
for a short period. (Both this window and the sleep period are dependent on the policy of the throttleable I/O.) This slows down the thread
that issues the throttleable I/O so that higher-priority I/Os can complete with low-latency and receive a greater share of the disk band-
width. Furthermore, an IMPORTANT I/O request may bypass a previously issued throttleable I/O request in kernel or driver queues and be sent
to the device first. In some circumstances, very large throttleable I/O requests will be broken into smaller requests which are then issued
The I/O policy of a newly created process is inherited from its parent process. The I/O policy of an I/O request is the lowest priority pol-
icy of the current thread and the current process.
The getiopolicy_np() call returns the I/O policy of the given I/O type and scope. If error happens, -1 is returned. The setiopolicy_np()
call returns 0 if there is no error, or -1 if there is an error. When error happens, the error code is stored in the external variable
Getiopolicy_np() and setiopolicy_np() will fail if:
[EINVAL] Io_type or scope is not one of the values defined in this manual.
In addition to the errors indicated above, setiopolicy_np() will fail if:
[EINVAL] Policy is not one of the values defined in this manual.
The thread or process with a throttleable I/O policy enabled will be generally prevented from having an adverse effect on the throughput or
latency of higher priority I/Os of other processes. However, there are a few considerations that users of the throttleable I/O policies
should keep in mind:
Consider using the F_NOCACHE fcntl(2) command to prevent caching when using a throttleable I/O policy. This will reduce contention for
available caches with IMPORTANT I/O.
Large read requests will automatically be broken up into smaller requests to avoid stalling IMPORTANT I/O requests. However, due to the con-
sistency guarantees provided to contiguous writes, this can not be done automatically for large writes. If a thread or process with a throt-
tleable I/O policy enabled will be issuing large writes, consider the use of the F_SINGLE_WRITER fcntl(2) command. This will indicate to the
system that there is only one thread writing to the file and allow automatic division of large writes.
Write-heavy throttleable I/O workloads may fill a drive's track (write) cache. Subsequent higher priority writes must then wait for enough
of the track cache to be flushed before they can continue. If the writes issued as throttleable I/O are small and not contiguous, many seeks
may be incurred before space is available for a subsequent higher priority write. Issuers of throttleable I/O should attempt to issue their
writes sequentially or to locations in a single small area of the drive (i.e. different positions in the same file) to ensure good spacial
The F_FULLFSYNC fcntl(2) command can cause very long system-wide IO stalls; use this command only if absolutely necessary.
nice(3), getpriority(2), setpriority(2), fcntl(2), open(2), renice(8)
The getiopolicy_np() and setiopolicy_np() function call first appeared in Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) .
April 30, 2013 BSD