Ubuntu – What’s the difference between load average and CPU load

cpu load

Here's the output of top:

top - 23:30:49 up  2:18,  1 user,  load average: 4.36, 4.36, 4.39
Tasks: 105 total,   2 running, 103 sleeping,   0 stopped,   0 zombie
Cpu(s):  3.6%us,  8.0%sy,  0.0%ni, 73.4%id,  9.0%wa,  1.1%hi,  4.9%si,  0.0%st
Mem:   2029820k total,  1979312k used,    50508k free,     6828k buffers
Swap:  5947384k total,        0k used,  5947384k free,  1855304k cached

How can the load average be high while the CPU load is low.

How is load average calculated?

Best Answer

This site does a good job of explaining it. Basically, load average is the amount of traffic to your CPU(s) over the past 1, 5, and 15 minutes. Generally you want this number to be below the number of CPU(s)/cores you have. 1.0 on a single core machine means it's using the CPU to it's maximum, and anything above that means things are getting queued.

The CPU line in your top output is the current usage broken down by process types.

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