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Documentation / nmi_watchdog.txt




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Based on kernel version 3.3. Page generated on 2012-03-23 21:36 EST.

1	
2	[NMI watchdog is available for x86 and x86-64 architectures]
3	
4	Is your system locking up unpredictably? No keyboard activity, just
5	a frustrating complete hard lockup? Do you want to help us debugging
6	such lockups? If all yes then this document is definitely for you.
7	
8	On many x86/x86-64 type hardware there is a feature that enables
9	us to generate 'watchdog NMI interrupts'.  (NMI: Non Maskable Interrupt
10	which get executed even if the system is otherwise locked up hard).
11	This can be used to debug hard kernel lockups.  By executing periodic
12	NMI interrupts, the kernel can monitor whether any CPU has locked up,
13	and print out debugging messages if so.
14	
15	In order to use the NMI watchdog, you need to have APIC support in your
16	kernel. For SMP kernels, APIC support gets compiled in automatically. For
17	UP, enable either CONFIG_X86_UP_APIC (Processor type and features -> Local
18	APIC support on uniprocessors) or CONFIG_X86_UP_IOAPIC (Processor type and
19	features -> IO-APIC support on uniprocessors) in your kernel config.
20	CONFIG_X86_UP_APIC is for uniprocessor machines without an IO-APIC.
21	CONFIG_X86_UP_IOAPIC is for uniprocessor with an IO-APIC. [Note: certain
22	kernel debugging options, such as Kernel Stack Meter or Kernel Tracer,
23	may implicitly disable the NMI watchdog.]
24	
25	For x86-64, the needed APIC is always compiled in.
26	
27	Using local APIC (nmi_watchdog=2) needs the first performance register, so
28	you can't use it for other purposes (such as high precision performance
29	profiling.) However, at least oprofile and the perfctr driver disable the
30	local APIC NMI watchdog automatically.
31	
32	To actually enable the NMI watchdog, use the 'nmi_watchdog=N' boot
33	parameter.  Eg. the relevant lilo.conf entry:
34	
35	        append="nmi_watchdog=1"
36	
37	For SMP machines and UP machines with an IO-APIC use nmi_watchdog=1.
38	For UP machines without an IO-APIC use nmi_watchdog=2, this only works
39	for some processor types.  If in doubt, boot with nmi_watchdog=1 and
40	check the NMI count in /proc/interrupts; if the count is zero then
41	reboot with nmi_watchdog=2 and check the NMI count.  If it is still
42	zero then log a problem, you probably have a processor that needs to be
43	added to the nmi code.
44	
45	A 'lockup' is the following scenario: if any CPU in the system does not
46	execute the period local timer interrupt for more than 5 seconds, then
47	the NMI handler generates an oops and kills the process. This
48	'controlled crash' (and the resulting kernel messages) can be used to
49	debug the lockup. Thus whenever the lockup happens, wait 5 seconds and
50	the oops will show up automatically. If the kernel produces no messages
51	then the system has crashed so hard (eg. hardware-wise) that either it
52	cannot even accept NMI interrupts, or the crash has made the kernel
53	unable to print messages.
54	
55	Be aware that when using local APIC, the frequency of NMI interrupts
56	it generates, depends on the system load. The local APIC NMI watchdog,
57	lacking a better source, uses the "cycles unhalted" event. As you may
58	guess it doesn't tick when the CPU is in the halted state (which happens
59	when the system is idle), but if your system locks up on anything but the
60	"hlt" processor instruction, the watchdog will trigger very soon as the
61	"cycles unhalted" event will happen every clock tick. If it locks up on
62	"hlt", then you are out of luck -- the event will not happen at all and the
63	watchdog won't trigger. This is a shortcoming of the local APIC watchdog
64	-- unfortunately there is no "clock ticks" event that would work all the
65	time. The I/O APIC watchdog is driven externally and has no such shortcoming.
66	But its NMI frequency is much higher, resulting in a more significant hit
67	to the overall system performance.
68	
69	On x86 nmi_watchdog is disabled by default so you have to enable it with
70	a boot time parameter.
71	
72	It's possible to disable the NMI watchdog in run-time by writing "0" to
73	/proc/sys/kernel/nmi_watchdog. Writing "1" to the same file will re-enable
74	the NMI watchdog. Notice that you still need to use "nmi_watchdog=" parameter
75	at boot time.
76	
77	NOTE: In kernels prior to 2.4.2-ac18 the NMI-oopser is enabled unconditionally
78	on x86 SMP boxes.
79	
80	[ feel free to send bug reports, suggestions and patches to
81	  Ingo Molnar <mingo@redhat.com> or the Linux SMP mailing
82	  list at <linux-smp@vger.kernel.org> ]
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