Understanding top and load averages

czerdrill

Well-Known Member
Feb 18, 2011
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I'm just trying to understand the top output as I'm a little confused at what I'm looking at here. I'm running a quad core box, and when I run top the load averages are 7.33, 7.43, 7.10

From what I understand #cores=max load right? So doesn't this mean that my server is under some pretty bad strain? Or does it mean I have to divide each average by 4 to get the actual results so it would be 1.83, 1.86, 1.78?

Just trying to understand if I have something to worry about or nothing at all...
 

ruzbehraja

Well-Known Member
May 19, 2011
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To put it simply, Load Average shows you the Number of processes, waiting to use the CPU(s) of your machine.

This is not a % of the CPU usage.

The CPU can either be 100% used or 100% unused, it cant be half used or 20% used logically.
But the Load Average shows you how many processes will be using the CPU shortly.

CPU Load Average != CPU % Used.

When you say the your Load Averages are: 7.33, 7.43, 7.10

Load Averages show you the value for an entire machine and not per CPU. They do not know the number of CPUs you have in your machine.

Assuming you had a single CPU:
This means that they are high and if you had a processor 7.33 times faster, it would have done your job instantly.
The load of 7.33 means you made it work 633% more times than what it could have done.

If you had 4 CPU's, then you can say that they are being overworked. Ideally it should have been 4.00
If you had 7 CPU's, then you can say that all are being used at their full potential.

To check out the actual CPU% used for the day use the command
Hope this clears your doubt.
 
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