The cost of context switching

If you think context switching activities is cheap, then just try saying two sentences; and then try interleaving those two sentences.  For example, I can say “I like kites” and “puppies are cute” in under 2 seconds. But to interleave them (“I puppies like are kites cute”) took me about 10 seconds.

This is obviously a silly example, but it may be a helpful way to explain to some people why you don’t want to be interupted in the middle of an intense thought-process to go handle some other random unrelated task.

Comments (2)

  1. Boris says:

    This is a big issue, but how can i show to my boss HOW many time we are wasting on the context switching? I understand that this time rely on machine, OS, memory, skills of sysadmin, but still, is context switching have "Price"?

  2. Boris, great question. Context switching will ultimately cost time. I’m not sure of a good way to measure that though. Hop on over to Rico’s blog at: Rico know’s performance and will certainly give better advice than me here.