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System Administration Guide: Virtualization Using the Solaris Operating System
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CPU Share Versus Utilization

Share allocation is not the same as utilization. A project that is allocated 50 percent of the CPU resources might average only a 20 percent CPU use. Moreover, shares serve to limit CPU usage only when there is competition from other projects. Regardless of how low a project's allocation is, it always receives 100 percent of the processing power if it is running alone on the system. Available CPU cycles are never wasted. They are distributed between projects.

The allocation of a small share to a busy workload might slow its performance. However, the workload is not prevented from completing its work if the system is not overloaded.

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