Disabling CPU Limit Enforcement On EKS Managed Nodes

When it comes to managing resources in kubernetes it's often recommended to disable CPU limit enforcement. This will allow you to set requests=limits so your pods have Guaranteed QoS class without being unnecessarily throttled.

If you're running relatively well-behaved workloads, with some leeway when it comes to available resources and that can scale out using HPA and cluster autoscaler if need be, the risk of disabling CPU limit enforcement should be low and should be outweighed by the benefits of your pods being able to handle short load spikes without losing performance.

A lot of online resources suggest using --cpu-cfs-quota kubelet command line flag to disable CPU limit enforcement. However this flag has been deprecated along with most other flags. Even though it doesn't seem like these flags will be removed soon (especially on EKS since it's usually a couple releases behind) it's safer to use the config file.

The config file parameter we're looking to change is cpuCFSQuota. Since the managed node AMIs come with existing kubelet config we need to modify it. To do so we need to use user data of the launch template used for the node groups. To modify the the config file we can use jq:

MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary="==MYBOUNDARY=="

Content-Type: text/x-shellscript; charset="us-ascii"

echo "$(jq ".cpuCFSQuota=false" /etc/kubernetes/kubelet/kubelet-config.json)" \
    > /etc/kubernetes/kubelet/kubelet-config.json


Bottlerocket uses toml for user data. Since I've never used bottlerocket I haven't had a chance to test it but it should look something like this:

cpuCFSQuota = false

Note that depending on what you're using to set the user data you may need to base64-encode it first (e.g. using base64encode function in terraform).

For more info see EKS managed node user data docs as well as user guide for the official managed node AMIs.


If you've come this far with the article you may want to know a thing or two about me if you don't already. You can also read other blog posts or about stuff I've learned recently.

This website is open source. If you've come across a mistake please let me know there. For other types of feedback you can reach out to me through email or social-media.