Interrupt latency, also called interrupt response time, is the length of time that it takes for a computer interrupt to be acted on after it has been generated. In most computers, a trade-off exists among interrupt latency, throughput, and processor utilization.
An interrupt is a signal from a device attached to a computer, or from a program within the computer, that tells the OS (operating system) to stop and decide what to do next. Factors that affect interrupt latency include the microprocessor design (or architecture), the microprocessor clock speed, the particular OS employed, and the type of interrupt controller used. Minimum interrupt latency depends mainly on the configuration of the interrupt controller, which combines interrupts onto processor lines, and assigns priority levels to the interrupts. Maximum interrupt latency depends mainly on the OS.