Thunderbolt: Throughput-Optimized, Quality-of-Service-Aware Power Capping at Scale


Shaohong Li, Xi Wang, Xiao Zhang, Vasileios Kontorinis, Sreekumar Kodakara, David Lo, and Parthasarathy Ranganathan, Google LLC


As the demand for data center capacity continues to grow, hyperscale providers have used power oversubscription to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Power oversubscription requires power capping systems to smooth out the spikes that risk overloading power equipment by throttling workloads. Modern compute clusters run latency-sensitive serving and throughput-oriented batch workloads on the same servers, provisioning resources to ensure low latency for the former while using the latter to achieve high server utilization. When power capping occurs, it is desirable to maintain low latency for serving tasks and throttle the throughput of batch tasks. To achieve this, we seek a system that can gracefully throttle batch workloads and has task-level quality-of-service (QoS) differentiation.

In this paper we present Thunderbolt, a hardware-agnostic power capping system that ensures safe power oversubscription while minimizing impact on both long-running throughput-oriented tasks and latency-sensitive tasks. It uses a two-threshold, randomized unthrottling/multiplicative decrease control policy to ensure power safety with minimized performance degradation. It leverages the Linux kernel's CPU bandwidth control feature to achieve task-level QoS-aware throttling. It is robust even in the face of power telemetry unavailability. Evaluation results at the node and cluster levels demonstrate the system's responsiveness, effectiveness for reducing power, capability of QoS differentiation, and minimal impact on latency and task health. We have deployed this system at scale, in multiple production clusters. As a result, we enabled power oversubscription gains of 9%--25%, where none was previously possible.

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@inproceedings {258872,
author = {Shaohong Li and Xi Wang and Xiao Zhang and Vasileios Kontorinis and Sreekumar Kodakara and David Lo and Parthasarathy Ranganathan},
title = {Thunderbolt: Throughput-Optimized, Quality-of-Service-Aware Power Capping at Scale},
booktitle = {14th {USENIX} Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation ({OSDI} 20)},
year = {2020},
isbn = {ISBN 978-1-939133-19-9},
pages = {1241--1255},
url = {},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},
month = nov,

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