Go and monotonic time


Some time ago, I learned the importance of monotonic time. Was reading the Go time documentation today and noticed the following:

The rest of this section gives the precise details of how operations use monotonic clocks, but understanding those details is not required to use this package.

The Time returned by time.Now contains a monotonic clock reading. If Time t has a monotonic clock reading, t.Add adds the same duration to both the wall clock and monotonic clock readings to compute the result. Because t.AddDate(y, m, d), t.Round(d), and t.Truncate(d) are wall time computations, they always strip any monotonic clock reading from their results. Because t.In, t.Local, and t.UTC are used for their effect on the interpretation of the wall time, they also strip any monotonic clock reading from their results. The canonical way to strip a monotonic clock reading is to use t = t.Round(0).

If Times t and u both contain monotonic clock readings, the operations t.After(u), t.Before(u), t.Equal(u), and t.Sub(u) are carried out using the monotonic clock readings alone, ignoring the wall clock readings. If either t or u contains no monotonic clock reading, these operations fall back to using the wall clock readings.

On some systems the monotonic clock will stop if the computer goes to sleep. On such a system, t.Sub(u) may not accurately reflect the actual time that passed between t and u.

Because the monotonic clock reading has no meaning outside the current process, the serialized forms generated by t.GobEncode, t.MarshalBinary, t.MarshalJSON, and t.MarshalText omit the monotonic clock reading, and t.Format provides no format for it. Similarly, the constructors time.Date, time.Parse, time.ParseInLocation, and time.Unix, as well as the unmarshalers t.GobDecode, t.UnmarshalBinary. t.UnmarshalJSON, and t.UnmarshalText always create times with no monotonic clock reading.

The monotonic clock reading exists only in Time values. It is not a part of Duration values or the Unix times returned by t.Unix and friends.

Note that the Go == operator compares not just the time instant but also the Location and the monotonic clock reading. See the documentation for the Time type for a discussion of equality testing for Time values.

For debugging, the result of t.String does include the monotonic clock reading if present. If t != u because of different monotonic clock readings, that difference will be visible when printing t.String() and u.String().

The above is a nice way to handle things that is fairly transparent to the programmer. If you are comparing timestamps within an application, then it uses monotonic time. If you are getting timestamps from external sources, then wall time is used, but the programmer does not need to worry about it – very clever.