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Version: 2.25.2

Managing OpenAI API Rate Limits

Understanding OpenAI rate limits

OpenAI imposes fine-grained rate limits on both requests per minute and tokens per minute for each AI model they offer. For example:

ModelTokens per minuteRequests per minute

Dealing with these limits can be tricky, as API calls to OpenAI have high latency (several seconds). As the rate limits are quite aggressive, back-off and retry loops run for several minutes before a request can be successfully sent to OpenAI. When working with OpenAI APIs, request prioritization can be quite beneficial to ensure that the most important requests are sent to OpenAI first.

Managing OpenAI rate limits with Aperture

Aperture can help manage OpenAI rate limits and improve user experience by queuing and prioritizing requests before sending them to OpenAI. Aperture offers a blueprint for managing quotas, consisting of two main components:

  • Rate limiter: OpenAI employs a token bucket algorithm to impose rate limits, and that is directly compatible with Aperture's rate limiter. For example, in the tokens per minute policy for gpt-4, we can allocate a burst capacity of 40000 tokens, and a refill rate of 40000 tokens per minute. The bucket begins to refill the moment the tokens are withdrawn, aligning with OpenAI's rate-limiting mechanism. This ensures our outbound request and token rate remains synchronized with OpenAI's enforced limits.
  • Scheduler: Aperture has a weighted fair queuing scheduler that prioritizes the requests based on multiple factors such as the number of tokens, priority levels and workload labels.


Before you begin with this guide, verify the prerequisites are fulfilled.


Before creating a policy, a control point needs to be defined. Control Point specifies where the policy should apply the decisions. There are multiple ways to achieve this; for the scope of this guide, a JavaScript SDK is used to create a control point—check out the Control Point Concept & Integrations section for more details.

Control Point with JavaScript SDK

The Aperture JavaScript SDK allows you to set a control point manually. How an Aperture Client instance is created is not discussed in this guide; detailed information around SDK integration can be found in Manually setting feature control points using JavaScript SDK.

The code below provides a general idea of control point creation and setting labels.

Integration with Aperture TypeScript SDK

Import and setup Aperture Client:

import { ApertureClient, FlowStatusEnum } from "@fluxninja/aperture-js";

apertureClient = new ApertureClient({
address: "localhost:8080",
channelCredentials: grpc.credentials.createSsl(),

Wrap the OpenAI API call with Aperture Client's StartFlow and End methods:

const PRIORITIES: Record<string, number> = {
paid_user: 10000,
trial_user: 1000,
free_user: 100,

let flow: Flow | undefined = undefined

if (this.apertureClient) {
// Alternatively, simply use JSON.stringify() to get charCount
const charCount =
this.systemMessage.length +
message.length +
String("system" + "user").length
const labels: Record<string, string> = {
api_key: CryptoES.SHA256(api.apiKey).toString(),
estimated_tokens: (
Math.ceil(charCount / 4) + responseTokens
model_variant: modelVariant,
priority: String(

flow = await this.apertureClient.StartFlow("openai", {
labels: labels,
grpcCallOptions: {
deadline: + 1200000,

// As we use Aperture as a queue, send the message regardless of whether it was accepted or rejected
try {
const { data: chatCompletion, response: raw } = await
model: modelVariant,
temperature: temperature,
top_p: topP,
max_tokens: responseTokens,
messages: messages,
.catch(err => {
logger.error(`openai chat error: ${JSON.stringify(err)}`)
throw err
return chatCompletion.choices[0]?.message?.content ?? ""
} catch (e) {
throw e // throw the error to be caught by the chat function
} finally {

Let's understand the code snippet above; we are creating a control point named openai and setting the labels, which will be used by the policy to identify and schedule the request. Before calling OpenAI, we rely on Aperture Agent to gate the request using the StartFlow method. To provide more context to Aperture, we also attach the following labels to each request:

  • model_variant: This specifies the model variant being used (gpt-4, gpt-3.5-turbo, or gpt-3.5-turbo-16k). Requests and tokens per minute rate limit policies are set individually for each model variant.
  • api_key - This is a cryptographic hash of the OpenAI API key, and rate limits are enforced on a per-key basis.
  • estimated_tokens: As the tokens per minute quota limit is enforced based on the estimated tokens for the completion request, we need to provide this number for each request to Aperture for metering. Following OpenAI's guidance, we calculate estimated_tokens as (character_count / 4) + max_tokens. Note that OpenAI's rate limiter doesn't tokenize the request using the model's specific tokenizer but relies on a character count-based heuristic.
  • priority: Requests are ranked according to a priority number provided in this label. For example, requests from paid_user can be given precedence over those from trial_user and free_user in example code.


To generate a policy using quota scheduler blueprint, values files should be generated first, specific to the policy. The values file can be generated using the following command:

aperturectl blueprints values --name=quota-scheduling/base --output-file=gpt-4-tpm-values.yaml

The values file needs to be adjusted to match the application requirements -

  • policy_name: Name of the policy — This value should be unique and required.
  • bucket_capacity: This value defines burst capacity. For example, in the case of gpt-4 tokens per minute policy, the bucket will have a capacity of 40000 tokens.
  • fill_amount: After the tokens are consumed, the bucket will be filled with this amount. For example, in the case of gpt-4 tokens per minute policy, the bucket will fill at 40000 tokens per minute.
  • rate_limiter:
    • interval: Interval at which the rate limiter will be filled. When to reset the bucket.
    • label_key: Label key to match the request against. This label key in this case is the OpenAI API key (api_key) which helps determine the quota for the request.

The scheduler helps prioritize the requests based on the labels and priority defined. In this case, we are using the priority label, which is being passed by Aperture SDK in code, containing the priority of the request.

  • scheduler:
    • priority_label_key: Priority label key to match the request against. In this case, it is priority.
    • tokens_label_key: In the case of tokens per minute policy, each request has a estimated_tokens label value, which can be used to prioritize the request based on the number of tokens. In this case, it is estimated_tokens.
    • workloads:
      • name: To match the label value against the name of workloads. In this case, it is paid_user, trial_user, free_user.
      • label_matcher:
        • match_labels: Labels to match the request against. In this case, it is product_reason.

Selector parameters allow filtering of the requests to ensure where the policy will act on.

  • selectors:
    • control_point: Control point name to match the request against. In this case, it will be openai.
    • agent_group: Agent group name to match the request against. It is optional.
    • label_matcher:
      • match_labels: Labels to match the request against. It is optional.

Below are examples of values file adjusted to match the SDK code snippet & control point labels.

Client-side quota management policies for gpt-4

# yaml-language-server: $schema=
# Generated values file for quota-scheduling/base blueprint
# Documentation/Reference for objects and parameters can be found at:

blueprint: quota-scheduling/base
# Name of the policy.
# Type: string
# Required: True
policy_name: gpt-4-tpm
# Bucket capacity.
# Type: float64
# Required: True
bucket_capacity: 40000
# Fill amount.
# Type: float64
# Required: True
fill_amount: 40000
# Rate Limiter Parameters
# Type: aperture.spec.v1.RateLimiterParameters
# Required: True
interval: 60s
label_key: api_key
priority_label_key: priority
tokens_label_key: estimated_tokens
# Flow selectors to match requests against
# Type: []aperture.spec.v1.Selector
# Required: True
- control_point: openai
agent_group: default
model_variant: gpt-4

Apply Policy

aperturectl cloud blueprints apply --values-file=gpt-4-tpm.yaml

Policy in Action

Once the policy is activated, it will begin to ensure that API requests conform to OpenAI's rate limits, prioritizing requests based on the workload types defined in the policy. These workloads are matched with the labels that the SDK passes to Aperture, where paid users are prioritized over trial users, and trial users over free users, thereby establishing a baseline experience for each tier.

Should rate limits be exhausted, Aperture will schedule the requests, placing them in a queue until either the bucket is reset or a token becomes available. Requests will remain in the queue up to the specified timeout value, provided in the StartFlow function. There is no minimum waiting time for requests; as soon as tokens are available, requests will be forwarded to OpenAI. A request can be transmitted to OpenAI as soon as it reaches the application, or it can wait until the timeout.

Monitoring the Policy and OpenAI Performance

Aperture Cloud provides comprehensive observability of the policy and OpenAI performance, providing a granular view of each workload, such as paid, trial, and free.

The image below shows the incoming token rate and the accepted token rate for the gpt-4 tokens-per-minute policy. We can observe that the incoming token rate is spiky, while the accepted token rate remains smooth and hovers around 666 tokens per second. This roughly translates to 40,000 tokens per minute. Essentially, Aperture is smoothing out the fluctuating incoming token rate to align it with OpenAI's rate limits.

Token Rate in Light Mode

Token Rate in Dark Mode Incoming and Accepted Token Rate for gpt-4

The below image shows request prioritization metrics from the Aperture Cloud console during the same peak load period:

Prioritization Metrics in Light Mode

Prioritization Metrics in Dark Mode Prioritization Metrics for gpt-4

In the upper left panel of the metrics, noticeable peaks indicate that some requests got queued for several minutes in Aperture. We can verify that the trial and free-tier users tend to experience longer queue times compared to their paid counterparts and chat requests.

Queue wait times can fluctuate based on the volume of simultaneous requests in each workload. For example, wait times are significantly longer during peak hours as compared to off-peak hours. Aperture provides scheduler preemption metrics to offer further insight into the efficacy of prioritization. As observed in the lower panels, these metrics measure the relative impact of prioritization for each workload by comparing how many tokens a request gets preempted or delayed in the queue compared to a purely First-In, First-Out (FIFO) ordering.

In addition to effectively managing the OpenAI quotas, Aperture provides insights into OpenAI API performance and errors. The graphs below show the overall response times for various OpenAI models we use. We observe that the gpt-4 family of models is significantly slower compared to the gpt-3.5-turbo family of models.

Flow Analytics

Flow Analytics Performance Metrics for OpenAI Models