Re: [patch][rfc][rft] vm throughput 2.4.2-ac4

From: Mike Galbraith (
Date: Tue Feb 27 2001 - 16:28:18 EST

On Tue, 27 Feb 2001, Rik van Riel wrote:

> On Tue, 27 Feb 2001, Mike Galbraith wrote:
> > Attempting to avoid doing I/O has been harmful to throughput here
> > ever since the queueing/elevator woes were fixed. Ever since then,
> > tossing attempts at avoidance has improved throughput markedly.
> >
> > IMHO, any patch which claims to improve throughput via code deletion
> > should be worth a little eyeball time.. and maybe even a test run ;-)
> >
> > Comments welcome.
> Before even thinking about testing this thing, I'd like to
> see some (detailed?) explanation from you why exactly you
> think the changes in this patch are good and how + why they
> work.

Ok.. quite reasonable ;-)

First and foremost: What does refill_inactive_scan do? It places
work to do on a list.. and nothing more. It frees no memory in and
of itself.. none (but we count it as freed.. that's important). It
is the amount of memory we want desperately to free in the immediate
future. We count on it getting freed. The only way to free I/O bound
memory is to do the I/O.. as fast as the I/O subsystem can sync it.

This is the nut.. scan/deactivate percentages are fairly meaningless
unless we do something about these pages.

What the patch does is simply to push I/O as fast as we can.. we're
by definition I/O bound and _can't_ defer it under any circumstance,
for in this direction lies constipation. The only thing in the world
which will make it better is pushing I/O.

If you test the patch, you'll notice one very important thing. The
system no longer over-reacts.. as badly. That's a diagnostic point.
(On my system under my favorite page turnover rate load, I see my box
drowning in a pool of dirty pages.. which it's not allowed to drain)

What we do right now (as kswapd) is scan a tiny portion of the active
page list, and then push an arbitrary amount of swap because we can't
possibly deactivate enough pages if our shortage is larger than the
search area (nr_active_pages >> 6).. repeat until give-up time. In
practice here (test load, but still..), that leads to pushing soon
to be unneeded [supposition!] pages into swap a full 3/4 of the time.

> IMHO it would be good to not apply ANY code to the stable
> kernel tree unless we understand what it does and what the
> author meant the code to do...

Yes.. I agree 100%. I was not suggesting that this be blindly
integrated. (I know me.. can get all cornfoosed and fsck up;)


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Feb 28 2001 - 21:00:15 EST