Tune node performance

One way to improve performance for container-based applications is to increase cluster resources by adding nodes or adding resources, like CPUs or memory, to your nodes. This approach, however, can become expensive. Tuning your cluster Nodes for better performance helps you optimize resource utilization for your workloads in a cost-effective way. This document describes how to use Performance Tuning Operator to tune worker nodes to optimize workload performance for GKE on Bare Metal.

To get the most from underlying hardware and software, different types of applications, especially high-performance applications, benefit from tuning node settings like the following:

  • Dedicated CPUs for performance-sensitive workloads
  • Reserved CPUs for standard Kubernetes Daemons and Services
  • Increased memory page sizes with 1 GiB (gibibyte) or 2 MiB (mebibyte) hugepages
  • Workload distribution based on the system architecture, such as multi-core processors and NUMA

With Performance Tuning Operator, you configure node-level performance settings by creating Kubernetes custom resources that apply performance configurations. Here are the benefits:

  • Single, unified configuration interface: With Performance Tuning Operator, you update one or more PerformanceTuningProfile manifests that can be applied to worker nodes with node selectors. You don't need to configure each node individually with multiple configuration and policy settings. This approach lets you manage node-level and container-level configurations in a single, unified way.

  • Persistence and reliability: You also get all the reliability that Kubernetes provides with its high-availability architecture. PerformanceTuningProfile custom resources can be updated whenever you like and their settings persist across major cluster operations, such as upgrades.

Performance Tuning Operator works by orchestrating the following performance-related Kubernetes and operating system (OS) features and tools:

To prevent conflicts, when you use Performance Tuning Operator, we recommend that you don't use the previously mentioned Kubernetes and OS tools and features independently.

Prerequisites and limitations

Here are the prerequisites and limitations for using Performance Tuning Operator:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) only: Performance Tuning Operator is supported for nodes running supported versions of RHEL only.

  • User or hybrid cluster with worker nodes: Performance Tuning Operator is supported for use with worker nodes in user or hybrid clusters only. Using Performance Tuning Operator to tune control plane nodes isn't supported. Performance Tuning Operator uses a node selector to determine how to apply tuning profiles. To ensure that tuning profiles are applied to worker nodes only, the nodeSelector in each profile custom resource must include the standard worker node label node-role.kubernetes.io/worker: "". If the nodeSelector in a tuning profile matches labels on a control plane node, that node isn't tuned and an error condition is set. For more information about error conditions, see Check status. Make sure your cluster is operating correctly before installing Performance Tuning Operator and applying tuning profiles.

  • TuneD 2.22.0: Performance Tuning Operator requires TuneD version 2.22.0 to be pre-installed in worker nodes you intend to tune. For additional information about TuneD, including installation instructions, see Getting started with TuneD in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux documentation. Performance Tuning Operator uses TuneD with the cpu-partitioning profile. If you don't have this profile, you can install it with the following command:

    dnf install -y tuned-profiles-cpu-partitioning
  • Workload resource requirements: To get the most from performance tuning, you should have a good understanding of the memory and CPU requirements (resource requests and limits) for your workloads.

  • Available node resources: Find the CPU and memory resources for your nodes. You can get detailed CPU and memory information for your node in the /proc/cpuinfo and /proc/meminfo files respectively. You can also use kubectl get nodes to retrieve the amount of compute and memory resources (status.allocatable) a worker node has that are available for Pods.

  • Requires draining: As part of the tuning process, Performance Tuning Operator first drains nodes, then applies a tuning profile. As a result, nodes may report a NotReady status during performance tuning. We recommend that you use the rolling update strategy (spec.updateStrategy.type: rolling) instead of a batch update to minimize workload unavailability.

  • Requires rebooting: For node tuning changes to take effect, Performance Tuning Operator reboots the node after applying the tuning profile.

Install Performance Tuning Operator

Performance Tuning Operator consists primarily of two controllers (a Deployment and a DaemonSet) that interact with each other to tune nodes based on your profile settings. Performance Tuning Operator isn't installed with GKE on Bare Metal, by default. You download the Performance Tuning Operator manifests from Cloud Storage and you use kubectl apply to create Performance Tuning Operator resources on your cluster.

To enable performance tuning with default values for your cluster:

  1. Create a performance-tuning directory on your admin workstation.

  2. From the performance-tuning directory, download the latest Performance Tuning Operator package from the Cloud Storage release bucket:

    gsutil cp -r gs://anthos-baremetal-release/node-performance-tuning/0.1.0-gke.47 .

    The downloaded files include manifests for the performance-tuning-operator Deployment and the nodeconfig-controller-manager DaemonSet. Manifests for related functions, such as role-based access control (RBAC) and dynamic admission control, are also included.

  3. As the root user, apply all of Performance Tuning Operator manifests recursively to your user (or hybrid) cluster:

    kubectl apply -f performance-tuning --recursive –-kubeconfig USER_KUBECONFIG

    Once the Deployment and DaemonSet are created and running, your only interaction is to edit and apply PerformanceTuningProfile manifests.

Review the resource requirements for your workloads

Before you can tune your nodes, you need to understand the computing and memory resource requirements of your workloads. If your worker nodes have sufficient resources, nodes can be tuned to provide guaranteed memory (standard and hugepages) for your workloads in the guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS) class.

Kubernetes assigns QoS classes to each of your Pods, based on the resource constraints you specify for the associated containers. Kubernetes then uses QoS classes to determine how to schedule your Pods and containers and allocate resources to your workloads. To take full advantage of Node tuning for your workloads, your workloads must have CPU or memory resource requests or limits settings.

To be assigned a QoS class of guaranteed, your Pods must meet the following requirements:

  • For each Container in the Pod:
    • Specify values for both memory resource requests (spec.containers[].resources.requests.memory) and limits (spec.containers[].resources.limits.memory).
    • The memory limits value must equal the memory requests value.
    • Specify values for both CPU resource requests (spec.containers[].resources.requests.cpu) and limits (spec.containers[].resources.limits.cpu).
    • The CPU limits value must equal the CPU requests value.

The following Pod spec excerpt shows CPU resources settings that meet the guaranteed QoS class requirements:

  - name: sample-app
    image: images.my-company.example/app:v4
        memory: "128Mi"
        cpu: "2"
        memory: "128Mi"
        cpu: "2"

When you retrieve pod details with kubectl get pods, the status section should include the assigned QoS class as shown in the following example:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  creationTimestamp: "2023-09-22T21:05:23Z"
  generateName: my-deployment-6fdd69987d-
    app: metrics
    department: sales
    pod-template-hash: 6fdd69987d
  name: my-deployment-6fdd69987d-7kv42
  namespace: default
  - lastProbeTime: null
    lastTransitionTime: "2023-09-22T21:05:23Z"
    status: "True"
    type: Initialized
  qosClass: BestEffort
  startTime: "2023-09-22T21:05:23Z"

For more information about the QoS classes, see Pod Quality of Service Classes in the Kubernetes documentation. For instructions for configuring your Pods and containers so that they get assigned a QoS class, see Configure Quality of Service for Pods

CPU requirements

When tuning a node, you can specify a set of reserved CPU cores (spec.cpu.reservedCPUs) for running Kubernetes system daemons like the kubelet and container runtime. This same set of reserved CPUs runs operating system daemons, such as sshd and udev, too. The remainder of CPU cores on the are allocated as isolated. The isolated CPUs are meant for CPU-bound applications, which require dedicated CPU time without interference from other applications or interrupts from network or other devices.

To schedule a Pod on the isolated CPUs of a worker node:

  • Configure the Pod for a guaranteed quality of service (QoS).

  • The CPU requirements and limits must be specified in integers. If you specify partial CPU resources in your Pod spec, such as cpu: 0.5 or cpu: 250m (250 millicores), scheduling can't be guaranteed.

Memory requirements

When tuning a node with Performance Tuning Operator, you can create hugepages and associate them with the non-uniform memory access (NUMA) nodes on the machine. Based on Pod and Node settings, Pods can be scheduled with NUMA-node affinity.

Create a performance tuning profile

After you've installed Performance Tuning Operator, you interact only with the cluster that runs your workloads. You create PerformanceTuningProfile custom resources directly on your user cluster or hybrid cluster, not on your admin cluster. Each PerformanceTuningProfile resource contains a set of parameters that specifies the performance configuration that's applied to a node.

The nodeSelector in the resource determines the nodes to which the tuning profile is applied. To apply a profile to a node, you place the corresponding key-value pair label on the node. A tuning profile is applied to nodes that have all the labels specified in the nodeSelector field.

You can create multiple PerformanceTuningProfile resources in a cluster. If more than one profile matches a given node, then an error condition is set in the status of the PerformanceTuningProfile custom resource. For more information about the status section, see Check status.

Set the namespace for your PerformanceTuningProfile custom resource to kube-system.

To tune one or more worker nodes:

  1. Edit the PerformanceTuningProfile manifest.

    For information about each field in the manifest and a sample manifest, see the PerformanceTuningProfile resource reference.

  2. (Optional) For the worker Nodes to which you're applying a profile, add labels to match the spec.nodeSelector key-value pair.

    If no spec.nodeSelector key-value pair is specified in the PerformanceTuningProfile custom resource, the profile is applied to all worker nodes.

  3. Apply the manifest to your cluster.

    kubectl apply -f PROFILE_MANIFEST --kubeconfig KUBECONFIG

    Replace the following:

    • PROFILE_MANIFEST: the path of the manifest file for the PerformanceTuningProfile custom resource.
    • KUBECONFIG: the path of the cluster kubeconfig file.

Remove a tuning profile

To reset a node to its original, untuned state:

  1. Delete the PerformanceTuningProfile custom resource from the cluster.

  2. Update or remove the labels on the node so that it isn't selected by the tuning profile, again.

If you have multiple tuning profiles associated with the node, repeat the preceding steps, as needed.

Pause a tuning profile

If you need to perform maintenance on your cluster, you can temporarily pause tuning by editing the PerformanceTuningProfile custom resource. We recommend that you pause tuning before you perform critical cluster operations, such as a cluster upgrade.

Unsuccessful profile application is another case where you might pause tuning. If the tuning process is unsuccessful, the controller may continue trying to tune the node, which may result in the node rebooting over and over. If you observe the node status flipping between the ready and not ready state, pause tuning so that you can recover from the broken state.

To pause tuning:

  1. Edit the PerformanceTuningProfile custom resource manifest to set spec.paused to true.

  2. Use kubectl apply to update the resource.

When performance tuning is paused, the Performance Tuning Operator controller stops all of its operations. Pausing prevents the risk of Performance Tuning Operator controller operations conflicting with any GKE on Bare Metal controller operations.

PerformanceTuningProfile resource reference

This section describes each of the fields in the PerformanceTuningProfile custom resource. This resource is used to create a tuning profile for one or more of your cluster nodes. All the fields in the resource are mutable after profile creation. Profiles have to be in the kube-system namespace.

The following numa sample profile manifest for nodes with 8 CPU cores specifies the following resource allocations:

  • 4 CPU cores (0-3) are reserved for Kubernetes system overhead.

  • 4 CPU cores (4-7) are set aside for workloads only.

  • Node memory is split into 2‑MiB pages by default, instead of the standard 4‑Ki pages.

  • 10 pages of memory sized at 1 GiB are set aside for use by NUMA node 0.

  • 5 pages of memory sized at 2 MiB are set aside for use by NUMA node 1.

  • Topology Manager uses the best-effort policy for scheduling workloads.

apiVersion: anthos.gke.io/v1alpha1
kind: PerformanceTuningProfile
  name: numa
  namespace: kube-system
    isolatedCPUs: 4-7
    reservedCPUs: 0-3
  defaultHugepagesSize: 2M
    app: database
    node-role.kubernetes.io/worker: ""
  - count: 10
    numaNode: 0
    size: 1G
  - count: 5
    numaNode: 1
    size: 2M
  topologyManagerPolicy: best-effort

You can retrieve the related PerformanceTuningProfile custom resource definition from the anthos.gke.io group in your cluster. The custom resource definition is installed once the preview feature annotation is added to the self-managed cluster resource.

CPU configuration

Property Description
cpu.reservedCPUs Required. Mutable. String. This field defines a set of CPU cores to reserve for Kubernetes system daemons, such as the kubelet, the container runtime, and the node problem detector. These CPU cores are also used for operating system (OS) system daemons, such as sshd and udev.

The cpu.reservedCPUs field takes a list of CPU numbers or ranges of CPU numbers. Ensure that the list of CPUs doesn't overlap with the list specified with cpu.isolatedCPUs. The union of the CPUs listed in these two fields must include all CPUs for the node.

cpu.isolatedCPUs Optional. Mutable. String. The cpu.isolatedCPUs field defines a set of CPUs that are used exclusively for performance sensitive applications. CPU Manager schedules containers on the non-reserved CPUs only, according to Kubernetes Quality of Service (QoS) classes. To ensure that workloads run on the isolated CPUs, configure Pods with the guaranteed QoS class and assign a CPU resource to the Pod or Container. For guaranteed Pod scheduling, you must specify integer CPU units, not partial CPU resources (cpu: "0.5").
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
        cpu: "1"
        cpu: "1"

Maximizing isolated CPUs for workloads provides the best performance benefit. This field takes a list of CPU numbers or ranges of CPU numbers. Ensure that the list of CPUs doesn't overlap with the list specified with cpu.reservedCPUs and that the union of the lists in these two fields includes all CPUs for the node.

cpu.balanceIsolated Optional. Mutable. Boolean. Default: true. This field specifies whether or not the Isolated CPU set is eligible for automatic load balancing of workloads across CPUs. When you set this field to false, your workloads have to assign each thread explicitly to a specific CPU to distribute the load across CPUs. With explicit CPU assignments, you get the most predictable performance for guaranteed workloads, but it adds more complexity to your workloads.
cpu.globallyEnableIRQLoadBalancing Required. Mutable. Boolean. Default: true. This field specifies whether or not to enable interrupt request (IRQ) load balancing for the isolated CPU set.

Memory configuration

Property Description
defaultHugePageSize Optional. Mutable. Enumeration: 1G or 2M. This field defines the default hugepage size in kernel boot parameters. Hugepages are allocated at boot time, before memory becomes fragmented. It's important to notice that setting hugepages default size to 1G removes all 2M related folders from the node. A default hugepage size of 1G prevents you from configuring 2M hugepages in the node.
pages Optional. Mutable. Integer. This field specifies the number of hugepages to create at boot time. This field accepts an array of pages. Check available memory for your nodes before specifying hugepages. Don't request more hugepages than needed and don't reserve all memory for hugepages, either. Your workloads need standard memory, as well.

Node Selection

Property Description
nodeSelector Required. Mutable. This field always requires the Kubernetes worker node label, node-role.kubernetes.io/worker:"", which ensures that performance tuning is done on worker nodes only. This field takes an optional node label as a key-value pair. The key-value pair labels are used to select specific worker nodes with matching labels. When the nodeSelector labels match labels on a worker node, the performance profile is applied to that node. If you don't specify a key-value label in your profile, it's applied to all worker nodes in the cluster.

For example, the following nodeSelector specifies that the tuning profile is applied only to worker nodes with matching app: database labels:

    app: database
    node-role.kubernetes.io/worker: ""

Kubelet Configuration

Property Description
topologyManagerPolicy Optional. Mutable. Enumeration: none, best-effort, restricted, or single-numa-node. Default: best-effort. This field specifies the Kubernetes Topology Manager policy used to allocate resources for your workloads, based on assigned quality of service (QoS) class. For more information about how QoS classes are assigned, see Configure Quality of Service for Pods.

Profile operations

Property Description
paused Optional. Mutable. Boolean. Set paused to true to temporarily prevent the DaemonSet controllers from tuning selected nodes.
updateStrategy Optional. Mutable. Specifies the strategy for applying tuning configuration changes to selected nodes.
updateStrategy.rollingUpdateMaxUnavailalble Optional. Mutable. Integer. Default: 1. Specifies the maximum number of nodes that can be tuned at the same time. This field applies only when type is set to rolling.
updateStrategy.type Optional. Mutable. Enumeration: batch or rolling. Default: rolling. Specifies how to apply profile updates to selected nodes. If you want to apply the update to all selected nodes at the same time, set type to batch. By default, updates are rolled out sequentially to individual nodes, one after the other.

Check status

After the PerformanceTuningProfile custom resource is created or updated, a controller tunes the selected nodes based on the configuration provided in the resource. To check the status of the PerformanceTuningProfile, we are exposing the following field in Status:

Property Description
conditions Condition represents the latest available observations of the current state of the profile resource.
conditions.lastTransitionTime Always returned. String (in date-time format). Last time the condition transitioned from one status to another. This time usually indicates when the underlying condition changed. If that time isn't known, then the time indicates when the API field changed.
conditions.message Optional. String. A human readable message indicating details about the transition. This field might be empty.
conditions.observedGeneration Optional. Integer. If set, this field represents the metadata.generation that the condition was set based on. For example, if metadata.generation is 12, but the status.condition[x].observedGeneration is 9, the condition is out of date regarding the current state of the instance.
conditions.reason Required. String. The reason for the last condition transition.
conditions.status Required. Status of the condition: True, False, or Unknown.
conditions.type Required. Type is the condition type: Stalled or Reconciling.
readyNodes The number of nodes to which the tuning profile has been successfully applied.
reconcilingNodes The number of selected (or previously selected) nodes that are in the process of being reconciled with the latest tuning profile by the nodeconfig-controller-manager DaemonSet.
selectedNodes The number of notes that have been selected. That is, the number of nodes that match the node selector for this PerformanceTuningProfile custom resource.

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