Convoy Effect in Operating Systems | Convoy Effect in FCFS Scheduling

Hello Friends! Today, we will explain about what is convoy effect in Operating Systems and its examples; and involving with convoy effect in FCFS (First Come First Served) scheduling with ease. This is unique article over the internet. Making ensure that at the end of this article; you will definitely fully aware about Convoy Effect in Operating Systems without any hindrance.

What is Convoy Effect in OS?

The “Convoy effect” is a situation that can present in operating systems whenever multiple processes or tasks compete for system resources, including CPU time or I/O operations. It is such condition where a slow or inefficient process can cause other processes to get more delayed or slowed down, making a “convoy” of processes waiting for the slowest one to complete its operation.


The Convoy Effect can make significant impact on entire system performance. So, especially when there is a mix of long-running and short-running processes. So, it can utilize the inefficient resource, increased response times for short processes, and removed the overall system throughput.

Convoy Effect Tutorial Headlines:

In this section, we will show you all headlines about this entire article; you can check them as your choice; below shown all:

  1. What is Convoy Effect in OS?
  2. Convoy Effect in FCFS Scheduling
  3. Causes of Convoy Effect in Operating System
  4. Stages of Convoy Effect in OS
  5. Mitigation of Convoy Effect in OS
  6. Convoy Effect Example in OS
  7. FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
  • What is difference between convoy effect and starvation?
  • How does the convoy effect impact system performance?
  • Are there any specific scheduling algorithms to address the convoy effect?
  • Can the convoy effect occur in distributed systems?

Let’s Get Started!!

Convoy Effect in FCFS Scheduling

The Convoy Effect can occur particularly in First-Come-First-Served (FCFS) scheduling. In FCFS scheduling, processes are executed in the order they arrive, with the first process that arrives being the first one to be executed.

The Convoy Effect arises when a long-running process holds up the execution of other short processes that are ready to run.

As a result, these short processes experience increased waiting times, leading to a convoy-like situation where multiple short processes are delayed due to the long-running process.

Causes of Convoy Effect in Operating System

The convoy effect arises due to several factors:

Resource Utilization: Whenever, the multiple tasks are going to concurrently, so they help to utilize with more efficiently of available system resources such as CPU, memory, and disk I/O. This is able to better utilization of hardware resources and overall enhanced system performance.

Context Switching: Context switching refers to the process of saving and restoring the state of a process or task so that execution can be resumed from the same point later. When, tasks are going to execute in parallel, the frequency of context switching increases.

However, the overhead associated with context switching is often negligible compared to the benefits gained from concurrent execution.

Scheduling Efficiency: Operating systems employ various scheduling algorithms to allocate CPU time to different tasks. The convoy effect can occur when the scheduling algorithm design takes advantage of concurrent execution.

For example, if a scheduling algorithm prioritizes tasks that are ready to execute, it can lead to efficient utilization of CPU cycles and faster completion of tasks.

I/O Operations: In systems with input/output (I/O) operations, the convoy effect can occur when multiple tasks perform I/O operations concurrently. If one task is waiting for I/O to complete, other tasks can continue execution, utilizing the CPU and other system resources.

This overlapping of I/O operations can significantly improve the overall throughput of the system.

Caching: Caching plays a vital role in improving system performance. When multiple tasks are going to execute in concurrently; then having the higher chance of cache hits.

Where one task access data  that is already presenting in the cache. This reduces the time spent on accessing data from main memory, resulting in faster execution.

Stages of Convoy Effect in OS

There are the various stages that involve in the Convoy Effect in an OS:

Task Arrival: The convoy effect begins when a batch of tasks or processes arrives in the system for execution. These tasks may have dependencies or shared resources, which can cause delays in their execution.

Resource Contention: As the tasks are scheduled for execution, they may compete for shared system resources, such as the CPU, memory, or I/O devices. If these resources are limited or insufficiently allocated, the tasks may experience delays, leading to resource contention.

Dependency Chain: In many cases, the tasks in the convoy have dependencies on each other, meaning that one task cannot start until another completes. This creates a sequential execution pattern, where the completion of a task is a prerequisite for the next one in the convoy.

Delayed Execution: Due to resource contention and dependencies; in the convoy’s task experience delays in their execution. This delay is significant if the system resources are heavily getting to utilize or if the tasks require substantial computational or I/O operations.

Cascading Delays: The delayed execution of tasks in the convoy can cause a cascading effect, where the subsequent tasks are further going to delay because they are dependent on the completion of previous tasks.

As a result, the convoy progresses slowly, prolonging the overall time required for task completion.

Inefficiency and Reduced Throughput: The Convoy Effect leads to inefficiency in resource utilization and reduced throughput of the system. While some tasks might be waiting for resources, others may remain idle, leading to under utilization of the available system capacity.

Convoy Dissipation: Eventually, as the tasks in the convoy complete, the effect dissipates, and the system returns to normal operation. However, the delays and inefficiencies caused by the convoy can have a lasting impact on the overall system performance.

Mitigation of Convoy Effect in OS

Mitigating the convoy effect in operating systems typically involves implementing various scheduling and resource allocation techniques to optimize system performance. Here are some approaches that can help alleviate the convoy effect:

Process Scheduling: The choice of scheduling algorithm can significantly impact system performance. Schedulers such as Shortest Job Next (SJN) or Shortest Remaining Time (SRT) prioritize shorter tasks, reducing the waiting time for faster processes.

Task Prioritization: Assigning appropriate priorities to tasks that can help ensure that higher-priority tasks execute before lower-priority ones. This way, critical or time-sensitive tasks are not delayed by slower tasks.

Pre-emption: Preemptive scheduling allows a running task to be interrupted and replaced by a higher-priority task. By preempting slower tasks, faster tasks can be executed promptly, reducing the impact of the convoy effect.

Parallelism and Multithreading: Utilizing multiple cores or implementing multithreading techniques can enable the execution of tasks in parallel, effectively reducing the dependency on sequential execution. This approach permits the independent tasks to progress concurrently, and decreasing the convoy effect.

Resource Management: Optimizing the allocation of system resources, such as CPU time, memory, and I/O, is crucial to mitigate the convoy effect. This techniques or resource reservations can help ensure that resources are distributing efficiently among tasks, and preventing the resource contention and bottlenecks.

Load Balancing: Distributing the workload evenly across multiple processing units or nodes can help avoid the concentration of tasks on specific resources. Load balancing algorithms can dynamically allocate tasks to available resources, reducing the convoy effect by utilizing the available resources optimally.

Caching and Prefetching: Utilizing caching mechanisms and prefetching techniques can minimize the impact of slower I/O operations.

Task Offloading: Offloading computationally intensive or time-consuming tasks to specialized hardware accelerators or remote servers can alleviate the convoy effect.

Convoy Effect Example in OS

There are two examples that help to illustrate the Convoy Effect in an operating system:

1) Example

Let’s consider a scenario where multiple processes need to access a printer to print their respective documents. Suppose there are three processes: Process A, Process B, and Process C. Each process generates a print request and waits for the printer to become available.

Initially, Process A is the first to arrive and request access to the printer. However, at that moment, the printer is busy fulfilling another request, so Process A is put in a waiting state.

Shortly after, Process B and Process C also arrive and request access to the printer. Since Process A is already waiting, both Process B and Process C are also going into a waiting state.

Eventually, the printer finishes the on-going task and becomes available. However, the operating system can only grant access to one process at a time.

Process A starts printing its document, and while it is doing so, Processes B and C remain in the waiting state, even though the printer could potentially handle their requests in parallel.

Once Process A finishes printing, the operating system then grants access to the printer to Process B. Similarly, after Process B finishes printing, Process C finally gets its turn. The processes are getting to process one after another, forming a convoy-like effect.

As a result, the processes experience unnecessary delays due to the sequential processing of their requests, even though the printer could handle multiple requests concurrently. This leads to decreased overall efficiency and performance in the system.

2) Example

To provide an example of the convoy effect in FCFS, let’s consider a simple scenario with three processes: P1, P2, and P3, with their respective burst times representing the time they need to complete execution.

P1 Process: Burst time = 10 units

P2 Process: Burst time = 3 units

P3 Process: Burst time = 5 units

In FCFS, the processes are getting to execute in the order they arrive. So, let’s assume that P1 arrives first, followed by P2, and then P3. The execution timeline would look like this:

Time      Execution            Process

0              P1 (10 units)         P1

10           P2 (3 units)           P2

13           P3 (5 units)           P3

Here, the total execution time is 18 units. Process P1, being the first to arrive, occupies the CPU for 10 units, causing processes P2 and P3 to wait. As a result, the shorter processes have to wait longer before they get a chance to execute.

So, they make the leading to increased waiting times and reduced overall system efficiency.

Example, the convoy effect is evident as the long process P1 delays the execution of subsequent shorter processes, P2 and P3.

This effect can easily get minimize by using different CPU scheduling algorithms, such as Shortest Job First or Round Robin. They prioritize shorter processes or allocate CPU time in a time-sliced manner, respectively.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is difference between convoy effect and starvation?

The convoy effect and starvation are two distinct concepts related to resource allocation in computer systems.

Convoy Effect: The convoy effect refers to a phenomenon in which the performance of a system is going to hinder due to the synchronization of resources. It typically occurs when multiple processes are waiting for a shared resource.

And, They have to wait in a sequential manner. This can create a “convoy” or a queue of tasks waiting for the resource, leading to reduced overall system performance.

Starvation: Starvation occurs when a task or process is unable to make progress or receive its required resources, even though it is eligible to do so.

In other words, a task is continually delaying or preventing from executing due to resource allocation issues. It can happen when resources are going to prioritize or allocate in a way.

How does the convoy effect impact system performance?

The convoy effect can significantly degrade system performance by introducing delays and reducing overall system throughput. It can create a situation where a single slow process or resource bottleneck affects the performance of all other processes in the system.

Are there any specific scheduling algorithms to address the convoy effect?

Several scheduling algorithms, such as fair-share scheduling, priority-based scheduling, and round-robin scheduling, can help mitigate the convoy effect. Additionally, employing preemptive scheduling and optimizing resource allocation policies can also contribute to reducing the impact of the convoy effect.

Can the convoy effect occur in distributed systems?

Yes! The convoy effect can occur in distributed systems. Therefore, multiple nodes or processes compete for shared resources or face congestion issues. In distributed systems, effective load balancing, parallel processing, and efficient resource allocation strategies are crucial to minimizing the convoy effect.

Wrapping Up

Now we can hope that you have been completely educated about what is convoy effect in operating systems and its examples; and involving with convoy effect in FCFS (First Come First Served) scheduling with ease. If this article is useful for you, then please share it along with your friends, family members or relatives over social media platforms like as Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, Twitter, and more.

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