Back in 2012 I wrote a utility called “ThreadLocker” for dealing with CPU heavy processes or multi threaded processes that have a nasty tendency to cause sluggish performance or even hangs in shared computing environments.
You can read all about the original concept here. My good friend and fellow CTP Barry Schiffer also wrote a really good article about the need for a product like ThreadLocker here.
In essence, ThreadLocker was a utility for both shared and 1:1 desktop environments. It allowed you to layer in rules for processes that had a history of high or discruptive CPU usage, to protect the other users (in a shared environment) or to protect other running processes and the users interface (explorer.exe) while a large compute job was occurring.
ThreadLocker exploded with popularity and has received well over 100,000 downloads in the last three years. Alike ThinKiosk, ThreadLocker is a tool I regularly come across in my customers environments while consulting and it always suprised me with it’s uptake and popularity. I have observed ThreadLocker in VDI, SBC and even on stand alone workstations with great levels of success.
One of the frustrations I had with ThreadLocker, was any .NET based language (c#, vb.net, etc.) was never quick enough to be able to add an intelligent aspect to the utility without actually making CPU usage worse by implementing. ThreadLocker 1.0 relied on static rules and any new processes would have to be observed and added.
Recently David Coombes and I undertook the side project of redesigning ThreadLocker to run in c++, adding the raw speed we needed to be able to make intelligent decisions based on CPU usage and react in a fraction of a second to a sudden CPU spike. ThreadLocker 2.0 was designed to specifically tackle two issues:
- Processes comsuming a large % of CPU and is multithreaded.
- Many buggy or heavy processes, each consuming a core each.
We didnt want to tackle this with the approach of many others, where they’ll pause and resume threads many times a second creating a “SawTooth” effect on the processes CPU usage. We wanted the processes to run as fast as they need up to a certain threshold and only be restricted when contention is likely.
Having experienced other vendors approaches where process priority is dropped, many times this simply does not cut it as a heavy process, even at idle priority, will cause the other users and processes to feel slow and sluggish.
Why is ThreadLocker different?
With ThreadLocker 2.0, you can elect a percentage of your CPU cores that ThreadLocker can use for isolating these processes. When a process violates the ThreadLocking criteria, they are locked into these subset of cores to contend with any other processes that are also ThreadLocked, leaving well behaved processes to be able to take advantage of all cores in system. Once they start to behave again and do so for a certain amount of time, the processes are dropped back into the “wild” unless they decide to misbehave again.
This approach is extremely fast (ThreadLocker consumes less CPU than Microsoft’s own Task Manager) from a processing point of view and also has the benefit of allowing users to multitask with other applications while, for example, Excel hammers the ThreadLocking cores during a calculation.
The end result has been fantastic. Threadlocker can be installed and up and running in seconds. There is no longer a requirement for static rules and out of box, all aspects of the logic can be tuned to suit your environment, but more than likely wont be needed.
We are proud to announce the general availability of ThreadLocker 2.0 and more information can be found on our website at http://www.thinscaletechnology.com/threadlocker.