|TIME(7)||Linux Programmer's Manual||TIME(7)|
Process time is defined as the amount of CPU time used by a process. This is sometimes divided into user and system components. User CPU time is the time spent executing code in user mode. System CPU time is the time spent by the kernel executing in system mode on behalf of the process (e.g., executing system calls). The time(1) command can be used to determine the amount of CPU time consumed during the execution of a program. A program can determine the amount of CPU time it has consumed using times(2), getrusage(2), or clock(3).
The value of HZ varies across kernel versions and hardware platforms. On i386 the situation is as follows: on kernels up to and including 2.4.x, HZ was 100, giving a jiffy value of 0.01 seconds; starting with 2.6.0, HZ was raised to 1000, giving a jiffy of 0.001 seconds. Since kernel 2.6.13, the HZ value is a kernel configuration parameter and can be 100, 250 (the default) or 1000, yielding a jiffies value of, respectively, 0.01, 0.004, or 0.001 seconds. Since kernel 2.6.20, a further frequency is available: 300, a number that divides evenly for the common video frame rates (PAL, 25 HZ; NTSC, 30 HZ).
The times(2) system call is a special case. It reports times with a granularity defined by the kernel constant USER_HZ. User-space applications can determine the value of this constant using sysconf(_SC_CLK_TCK).
Since Linux 2.6.21, Linux supports high-resolution timers (HRTs), optionally configurable via CONFIG_HIGH_RES_TIMERS. On a system that supports HRTs, the accuracy of sleep and timer system calls is no longer constrained by the jiffy, but instead can be as accurate as the hardware allows (microsecond accuracy is typical of modern hardware). You can determine whether high-resolution timers are supported by checking the resolution returned by a call to clock_getres(2) or looking at the "resolution" entries in /proc/timer_list.
HRTs are not supported on all hardware architectures. (Support is provided on x86, arm, and powerpc, among others.)
A program can determine the calendar time via the clock_gettime(2) CLOCK_REALTIME clock, which returns time (in seconds and nanoseconds) that have elapsed since the Epoch; time(2) provides similar information, but only with accuracy to the nearest second. The system time can be changed using clock_settime(2).
Various system calls allow a process to set a timer that expires at some point in the future, and optionally at repeated intervals; see alarm(2), getitimer(2), timerfd_create(2), and timer_create(2).