Here is the top output which I gathered: top output

I noticed that top is showing vlc's cpu usage is > 100%.

Can anybody please justify me why it is showing like this, whether this is a bug in top application or something else.

  • It's not lying to you, because your load average is up over 4. That seems high - try restarting vlc, and do something to free up some memory first. – Paul Tomblin Mar 18 '12 at 11:43
  • Also, I see you're using compiz. Do you have a good 3d graphics card? If not, that's probably where all your CPU is going, trying to render a movie onto a 3d surface. – Paul Tomblin Mar 18 '12 at 11:45

You are in a multi-core/multi-CPU environment and "top" is working in Irix mode. That means that your process (vlc) is performing a computation that keeps 1.2 CPUs/cores busy. That could mean 100%+20%, 60%+60%, etc.

Press 'I' to switch to Solaris mode. You get the same value divided by the number of cores/CPUs.

  • 2
    After you switch out of Irix mode by pressing I, you can press W to save that as the default configuration if you are root. – AKWF Oct 17 '12 at 13:37
  • 2
    Before you've pressed W to have saved those as def. config, you can also press 1 once or twice to get an idea of how exactly CPUs/cores are being loaded. ;) – poige Oct 20 '12 at 11:19
  • what should be concluded if we have a single core machine and top displays one of the process as 100% cpu usage. Does this means the machine is hung and no other process will get CPU time. – Krishna Oza Jul 5 '18 at 12:20
  • @krishna_oza: If that were the case then top wouldn't be able to update the list of processes anymore, cause it's a process too. 100% on a single core machine means “no other process requested any CPU time during the measuring interval” (or maybe something did, but was so quick it ended up a measuring error). Most importantly, when another process becomes active you should see that 100% value drop in top again with the other process getting the remaining share. – ntninja Oct 1 '19 at 16:21
  • Update on the comments of @AKWF & @poige: I'm not sure whether this was the case in 2012 already, but as of now (2019) top will save the configuration file to ${XDG_CONFIG_HOME:-~/.config}/procps/toprc if the W key is used when running it as regular user. – ntninja Oct 1 '19 at 16:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.