Energy Model of devices

1. Overview

The Energy Model (EM) framework serves as an interface between drivers knowing the power consumed by devices at various performance levels, and the kernel subsystems willing to use that information to make energy-aware decisions.

The source of the information about the power consumed by devices can vary greatly from one platform to another. These power costs can be estimated using devicetree data in some cases. In others, the firmware will know better. Alternatively, userspace might be best positioned. And so on. In order to avoid each and every client subsystem to re-implement support for each and every possible source of information on its own, the EM framework intervenes as an abstraction layer which standardizes the format of power cost tables in the kernel, hence enabling to avoid redundant work.

The power values might be expressed in micro-Watts or in an ‘abstract scale’. Multiple subsystems might use the EM and it is up to the system integrator to check that the requirements for the power value scale types are met. An example can be found in the Energy-Aware Scheduler documentation Energy Aware Scheduling. For some subsystems like thermal or powercap power values expressed in an ‘abstract scale’ might cause issues. These subsystems are more interested in estimation of power used in the past, thus the real micro-Watts might be needed. An example of these requirements can be found in the Intelligent Power Allocation in Power allocator governor tunables. Kernel subsystems might implement automatic detection to check whether EM registered devices have inconsistent scale (based on EM internal flag). Important thing to keep in mind is that when the power values are expressed in an ‘abstract scale’ deriving real energy in micro-Joules would not be possible.

The figure below depicts an example of drivers (Arm-specific here, but the approach is applicable to any architecture) providing power costs to the EM framework, and interested clients reading the data from it:

+---------------+  +-----------------+  +---------------+
| Thermal (IPA) |  | Scheduler (EAS) |  |     Other     |
+---------------+  +-----------------+  +---------------+
        |                   | em_cpu_energy()   |
        |                   | em_cpu_get()      |
        +---------+         |         +---------+
                  |         |         |
                  v         v         v
                 |    Energy Model     |
                 |     Framework       |
                    ^       ^       ^
                    |       |       | em_dev_register_perf_domain()
         +----------+       |       +---------+
         |                  |                 |
 +---------------+  +---------------+  +--------------+
 |  cpufreq-dt   |  |   arm_scmi    |  |    Other     |
 +---------------+  +---------------+  +--------------+
         ^                  ^                 ^
         |                  |                 |
 +--------------+   +---------------+  +--------------+
 | Device Tree  |   |   Firmware    |  |      ?       |
 +--------------+   +---------------+  +--------------+

In case of CPU devices the EM framework manages power cost tables per ‘performance domain’ in the system. A performance domain is a group of CPUs whose performance is scaled together. Performance domains generally have a 1-to-1 mapping with CPUFreq policies. All CPUs in a performance domain are required to have the same micro-architecture. CPUs in different performance domains can have different micro-architectures.

To better reflect power variation due to static power (leakage) the EM supports runtime modifications of the power values. The mechanism relies on RCU to free the modifiable EM perf_state table memory. Its user, the task scheduler, also uses RCU to access this memory. The EM framework provides API for allocating/freeing the new memory for the modifiable EM table. The old memory is freed automatically using RCU callback mechanism when there are no owners anymore for the given EM runtime table instance. This is tracked using kref mechanism. The device driver which provided the new EM at runtime, should call EM API to free it safely when it’s no longer needed. The EM framework will handle the clean-up when it’s possible.

The kernel code which want to modify the EM values is protected from concurrent access using a mutex. Therefore, the device driver code must run in sleeping context when it tries to modify the EM.

With the runtime modifiable EM we switch from a ‘single and during the entire runtime static EM’ (system property) design to a ‘single EM which can be changed during runtime according e.g. to the workload’ (system and workload property) design.

It is possible also to modify the CPU performance values for each EM’s performance state. Thus, the full power and performance profile (which is an exponential curve) can be changed according e.g. to the workload or system property.

2. Core APIs

2.1 Config options

CONFIG_ENERGY_MODEL must be enabled to use the EM framework.

2.2 Registration of performance domains

Registration of ‘advanced’ EM

The ‘advanced’ EM gets its name due to the fact that the driver is allowed to provide more precised power model. It’s not limited to some implemented math formula in the framework (like it is in ‘simple’ EM case). It can better reflect the real power measurements performed for each performance state. Thus, this registration method should be preferred in case considering EM static power (leakage) is important.

Drivers are expected to register performance domains into the EM framework by calling the following API:

int em_dev_register_perf_domain(struct device *dev, unsigned int nr_states,
              struct em_data_callback *cb, cpumask_t *cpus, bool microwatts);

Drivers must provide a callback function returning <frequency, power> tuples for each performance state. The callback function provided by the driver is free to fetch data from any relevant location (DT, firmware, ...), and by any mean deemed necessary. Only for CPU devices, drivers must specify the CPUs of the performance domains using cpumask. For other devices than CPUs the last argument must be set to NULL. The last argument ‘microwatts’ is important to set with correct value. Kernel subsystems which use EM might rely on this flag to check if all EM devices use the same scale. If there are different scales, these subsystems might decide to return warning/error, stop working or panic. See Section 3. for an example of driver implementing this callback, or Section 2.4 for further documentation on this API

Registration of EM using DT

The EM can also be registered using OPP framework and information in DT “operating-points-v2”. Each OPP entry in DT can be extended with a property “opp-microwatt” containing micro-Watts power value. This OPP DT property allows a platform to register EM power values which are reflecting total power (static + dynamic). These power values might be coming directly from experiments and measurements.

Registration of ‘artificial’ EM

There is an option to provide a custom callback for drivers missing detailed knowledge about power value for each performance state. The callback .get_cost() is optional and provides the ‘cost’ values used by the EAS. This is useful for platforms that only provide information on relative efficiency between CPU types, where one could use the information to create an abstract power model. But even an abstract power model can sometimes be hard to fit in, given the input power value size restrictions. The .get_cost() allows to provide the ‘cost’ values which reflect the efficiency of the CPUs. This would allow to provide EAS information which has different relation than what would be forced by the EM internal formulas calculating ‘cost’ values. To register an EM for such platform, the driver must set the flag ‘microwatts’ to 0, provide .get_power() callback and provide .get_cost() callback. The EM framework would handle such platform properly during registration. A flag EM_PERF_DOMAIN_ARTIFICIAL is set for such platform. Special care should be taken by other frameworks which are using EM to test and treat this flag properly.

Registration of ‘simple’ EM

The ‘simple’ EM is registered using the framework helper function cpufreq_register_em_with_opp(). It implements a power model which is tight to math formula:

Power = C * V^2 * f

The EM which is registered using this method might not reflect correctly the physics of a real device, e.g. when static power (leakage) is important.

2.3 Accessing performance domains

There are two API functions which provide the access to the energy model: em_cpu_get() which takes CPU id as an argument and em_pd_get() with device pointer as an argument. It depends on the subsystem which interface it is going to use, but in case of CPU devices both functions return the same performance domain.

Subsystems interested in the energy model of a CPU can retrieve it using the em_cpu_get() API. The energy model tables are allocated once upon creation of the performance domains, and kept in memory untouched.

The energy consumed by a performance domain can be estimated using the em_cpu_energy() API. The estimation is performed assuming that the schedutil CPUfreq governor is in use in case of CPU device. Currently this calculation is not provided for other type of devices.

More details about the above APIs can be found in <linux/energy_model.h> or in Section 2.5

2.4 Runtime modifications

Drivers willing to update the EM at runtime should use the following dedicated function to allocate a new instance of the modified EM. The API is listed below:

struct em_perf_table __rcu *em_table_alloc(struct em_perf_domain *pd);

This allows to allocate a structure which contains the new EM table with also RCU and kref needed by the EM framework. The ‘struct em_perf_table’ contains array ‘struct em_perf_state state[]’ which is a list of performance states in ascending order. That list must be populated by the device driver which wants to update the EM. The list of frequencies can be taken from existing EM (created during boot). The content in the ‘struct em_perf_state’ must be populated by the driver as well.

This is the API which does the EM update, using RCU pointers swap:

int em_dev_update_perf_domain(struct device *dev,
                      struct em_perf_table __rcu *new_table);

Drivers must provide a pointer to the allocated and initialized new EM ‘struct em_perf_table’. That new EM will be safely used inside the EM framework and will be visible to other sub-systems in the kernel (thermal, powercap). The main design goal for this API is to be fast and avoid extra calculations or memory allocations at runtime. When pre-computed EMs are available in the device driver, than it should be possible to simply re-use them with low performance overhead.

In order to free the EM, provided earlier by the driver (e.g. when the module is unloaded), there is a need to call the API:

void em_table_free(struct em_perf_table __rcu *table);

It will allow the EM framework to safely remove the memory, when there is no other sub-system using it, e.g. EAS.

To use the power values in other sub-systems (like thermal, powercap) there is a need to call API which protects the reader and provide consistency of the EM table data:

struct em_perf_state *em_perf_state_from_pd(struct em_perf_domain *pd);

It returns the ‘struct em_perf_state’ pointer which is an array of performance states in ascending order. This function must be called in the RCU read lock section (after the rcu_read_lock()). When the EM table is not needed anymore there is a need to call rcu_real_unlock(). In this way the EM safely uses the RCU read section and protects the users. It also allows the EM framework to manage the memory and free it. More details how to use it can be found in Section 3.2 in the example driver.

There is dedicated API for device drivers to calculate em_perf_state::cost values:

int em_dev_compute_costs(struct device *dev, struct em_perf_state *table,
                         int nr_states);

These ‘cost’ values from EM are used in EAS. The new EM table should be passed together with the number of entries and device pointer. When the computation of the cost values is done properly the return value from the function is 0. The function takes care for right setting of inefficiency for each performance state as well. It updates em_perf_state::flags accordingly. Then such prepared new EM can be passed to the em_dev_update_perf_domain() function, which will allow to use it.

More details about the above APIs can be found in <linux/energy_model.h> or in Section 3.2 with an example code showing simple implementation of the updating mechanism in a device driver.

2.5 Description details of this API

struct em_perf_state

Performance state of a performance domain


struct em_perf_state {
    unsigned long performance;
    unsigned long frequency;
    unsigned long power;
    unsigned long cost;
    unsigned long flags;



CPU performance (capacity) at a given frequency


The frequency in KHz, for consistency with CPUFreq


The power consumed at this level (by 1 CPU or by a registered device). It can be a total power: static and dynamic.


The cost coefficient associated with this level, used during energy calculation. Equal to: power * max_frequency / frequency


see “em_perf_state flags” description below.

struct em_perf_table

Performance states table


struct em_perf_table {
    struct rcu_head rcu;
    struct kref kref;
    struct em_perf_state state[];



RCU used for safe access and destruction


Reference counter to track the users


List of performance states, in ascending order

struct em_perf_domain

Performance domain


struct em_perf_domain {
    struct em_perf_table __rcu *em_table;
    int nr_perf_states;
    unsigned long flags;
    unsigned long cpus[];



Pointer to the runtime modifiable em_perf_table


Number of performance states


See “em_perf_domain flags”


Cpumask covering the CPUs of the domain. It’s here for performance reasons to avoid potential cache misses during energy calculations in the scheduler and simplifies allocating/freeing that memory region.


In case of CPU device, a “performance domain” represents a group of CPUs whose performance is scaled together. All CPUs of a performance domain must have the same micro-architecture. Performance domains often have a 1-to-1 mapping with CPUFreq policies. In case of other devices the cpus field is unused.

int em_pd_get_efficient_state(struct em_perf_state *table, int nr_perf_states, unsigned long max_util, unsigned long pd_flags)

Get an efficient performance state from the EM


struct em_perf_state *table

List of performance states, in ascending order

int nr_perf_states

Number of performance states

unsigned long max_util

Max utilization to map with the EM

unsigned long pd_flags

Performance Domain flags


It is called from the scheduler code quite frequently and as a consequence doesn’t implement any check.


An efficient performance state id, high enough to meet max_util requirement.

unsigned long em_cpu_energy(struct em_perf_domain *pd, unsigned long max_util, unsigned long sum_util, unsigned long allowed_cpu_cap)

Estimates the energy consumed by the CPUs of a performance domain


struct em_perf_domain *pd

performance domain for which energy has to be estimated

unsigned long max_util

highest utilization among CPUs of the domain

unsigned long sum_util

sum of the utilization of all CPUs in the domain

unsigned long allowed_cpu_cap

maximum allowed CPU capacity for the pd, which might reflect reduced frequency (due to thermal)


This function must be used only for CPU devices. There is no validation, i.e. if the EM is a CPU type and has cpumask allocated. It is called from the scheduler code quite frequently and that is why there is not checks.


the sum of the energy consumed by the CPUs of the domain assuming a capacity state satisfying the max utilization of the domain.

int em_pd_nr_perf_states(struct em_perf_domain *pd)

Get the number of performance states of a perf. domain


struct em_perf_domain *pd

performance domain for which this must be done


the number of performance states in the performance domain table

struct em_perf_state *em_perf_state_from_pd(struct em_perf_domain *pd)

Get the performance states table of perf. domain


struct em_perf_domain *pd

performance domain for which this must be done


To use this function the rcu_read_lock() should be hold. After the usage of the performance states table is finished, the rcu_read_unlock() should be called.


the pointer to performance states table of the performance domain

int em_dev_update_perf_domain(struct device *dev, struct em_perf_table __rcu *new_table)

Update runtime EM table for a device


struct device *dev

Device for which the EM is to be updated

struct em_perf_table __rcu *new_table

The new EM table that is going to be used from now


Update EM runtime modifiable table for the dev using the provided table.

This function uses a mutex to serialize writers, so it must not be called from a non-sleeping context.

Return 0 on success or an error code on failure.

struct em_perf_domain *em_pd_get(struct device *dev)

Return the performance domain for a device


struct device *dev

Device to find the performance domain for


Returns the performance domain to which dev belongs, or NULL if it doesn’t exist.

struct em_perf_domain *em_cpu_get(int cpu)

Return the performance domain for a CPU


int cpu

CPU to find the performance domain for


Returns the performance domain to which cpu belongs, or NULL if it doesn’t exist.

int em_dev_register_perf_domain(struct device *dev, unsigned int nr_states, struct em_data_callback *cb, cpumask_t *cpus, bool microwatts)

Register the Energy Model (EM) for a device


struct device *dev

Device for which the EM is to register

unsigned int nr_states

Number of performance states to register

struct em_data_callback *cb

Callback functions providing the data of the Energy Model

cpumask_t *cpus

Pointer to cpumask_t, which in case of a CPU device is obligatory. It can be taken from i.e. ‘policy->cpus’. For other type of devices this should be set to NULL.

bool microwatts

Flag indicating that the power values are in micro-Watts or in some other scale. It must be set properly.


Create Energy Model tables for a performance domain using the callbacks defined in cb.

The microwatts is important to set with correct value. Some kernel sub-systems might rely on this flag and check if all devices in the EM are using the same scale.

If multiple clients register the same performance domain, all but the first registration will be ignored.

Return 0 on success

void em_dev_unregister_perf_domain(struct device *dev)

Unregister Energy Model (EM) for a device


struct device *dev

Device for which the EM is registered


Unregister the EM for the specified dev (but not a CPU device).

int em_dev_update_chip_binning(struct device *dev)

Update Energy Model after the new voltage information is present in the OPPs.


struct device *dev

Device for which the Energy Model has to be updated.


This function allows to update easily the EM with new values available in the OPP framework and DT. It can be used after the chip has been properly verified by device drivers and the voltages adjusted for the ‘chip binning’.

3. Examples

3.1 Example driver with EM registration

The CPUFreq framework supports dedicated callback for registering the EM for a given CPU(s) ‘policy’ object: cpufreq_driver::register_em(). That callback has to be implemented properly for a given driver, because the framework would call it at the right time during setup. This section provides a simple example of a CPUFreq driver registering a performance domain in the Energy Model framework using the (fake) ‘foo’ protocol. The driver implements an est_power() function to be provided to the EM framework:

-> drivers/cpufreq/foo_cpufreq.c

01    static int est_power(struct device *dev, unsigned long *mW,
02                    unsigned long *KHz)
03    {
04            long freq, power;
06            /* Use the 'foo' protocol to ceil the frequency */
07            freq = foo_get_freq_ceil(dev, *KHz);
08            if (freq < 0);
09                    return freq;
11            /* Estimate the power cost for the dev at the relevant freq. */
12            power = foo_estimate_power(dev, freq);
13            if (power < 0);
14                    return power;
16            /* Return the values to the EM framework */
17            *mW = power;
18            *KHz = freq;
20            return 0;
21    }
23    static void foo_cpufreq_register_em(struct cpufreq_policy *policy)
24    {
25            struct em_data_callback em_cb = EM_DATA_CB(est_power);
26            struct device *cpu_dev;
27            int nr_opp;
29            cpu_dev = get_cpu_device(cpumask_first(policy->cpus));
31            /* Find the number of OPPs for this policy */
32            nr_opp = foo_get_nr_opp(policy);
34            /* And register the new performance domain */
35            em_dev_register_perf_domain(cpu_dev, nr_opp, &em_cb, policy->cpus,
36                                        true);
37    }
39    static struct cpufreq_driver foo_cpufreq_driver = {
40            .register_em = foo_cpufreq_register_em,
41    };

3.2 Example driver with EM modification

This section provides a simple example of a thermal driver modifying the EM. The driver implements a foo_thermal_em_update() function. The driver is woken up periodically to check the temperature and modify the EM data:

-> drivers/soc/example/example_em_mod.c

01    static void foo_get_new_em(struct foo_context *ctx)
02    {
03            struct em_perf_table __rcu *em_table;
04            struct em_perf_state *table, *new_table;
05            struct device *dev = ctx->dev;
06            struct em_perf_domain *pd;
07            unsigned long freq;
08            int i, ret;
10            pd = em_pd_get(dev);
11            if (!pd)
12                    return;
14            em_table = em_table_alloc(pd);
15            if (!em_table)
16                    return;
18            new_table = em_table->state;
20            rcu_read_lock();
21            table = em_perf_state_from_pd(pd);
22            for (i = 0; i < pd->nr_perf_states; i++) {
23                    freq = table[i].frequency;
24                    foo_get_power_perf_values(dev, freq, &new_table[i]);
25            }
26            rcu_read_unlock();
28            /* Calculate 'cost' values for EAS */
29            ret = em_dev_compute_costs(dev, table, pd->nr_perf_states);
30            if (ret) {
31                    dev_warn(dev, "EM: compute costs failed %d\n", ret);
32                    em_free_table(em_table);
33                    return;
34            }
36            ret = em_dev_update_perf_domain(dev, em_table);
37            if (ret) {
38                    dev_warn(dev, "EM: update failed %d\n", ret);
39                    em_free_table(em_table);
40                    return;
41            }
43            /*
44             * Since it's one-time-update drop the usage counter.
45             * The EM framework will later free the table when needed.
46             */
47            em_table_free(em_table);
48    }
50    /*
51     * Function called periodically to check the temperature and
52     * update the EM if needed
53     */
54    static void foo_thermal_em_update(struct foo_context *ctx)
55    {
56            struct device *dev = ctx->dev;
57            int cpu;
59            ctx->temperature = foo_get_temp(dev, ctx);
60            if (ctx->temperature < FOO_EM_UPDATE_TEMP_THRESHOLD)
61                    return;
63            foo_get_new_em(ctx);
64    }