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SubjectRe: Poor read performance when sequential write presents
William Lee Irwin III wrote:
> On Fri, May 24, 2002 at 02:26:48AM -0700, Andrew Morton wrote:
> > Oh absolutely. That's the reason why 2.4 is beating 2.5 at tiobench with
> > more than one thread. 2.5 is alternating fairly between threads and 2.4
> > is not. So 2.4 seeks less.
> In one sense or another some sort of graceful transition to unfair
> behavior could be considered a kind of thrashing control; how meaningful
> that is in the context of disk I/O is a question I can't answer directly,
> though. Do you have any comments on this potential strategic unfairness?

Well we already have controls for strategic unfairness: the "read passovers"
thing. It sets a finite limit on the number of times which a request can
be walked past by the merging algorithm. Once that counter has
expired, the request becomes effectively a merging barrier and it will
propagate to the head of the queue as fast as the disk can retire the

I don't have a problem if the `read latency' tunable (and this
algorithm) cause a single thread to hog the disk head across
multiple successive readahead windows. That's probably a good thing,
and it's tunable.

But it seems to not be working right.

And there's no userspace tunable at this time.

> On Fri, May 24, 2002 at 02:26:48AM -0700, Andrew Morton wrote:
> > I've been testing this extensively on 2.5 + multipage BIO I/O and when you
> > increase readahead from 32 pages (two BIOs) to 64 pages (4 BIOs), 2.5 goes
> > from perfect to horrid - each threads grabs the disk head and performs many,
> > many megabytes of read before any other thread gets a share. Net effect is
> > that the tiobench numbers are great, but any operation which involves
> > reading disk has 30 or 60 second latencies.
> > Interestingly, it seems specific to IDE. SCSI behaves well.
> > I have tons of traces and debug code - I'll bug Jens about this in a week or
> > so.
> What kinds of phenomena appear to be associated with IDE's latencies?
> I recall some comments from prior IDE maintainers on poor interactions
> between generic disk I/O layers and IDE drivers, particularly with
> respect to small transactions being given to the drivers to perform.
> Are these comments still relevant, or is this of a different nature?

I assume that there's a difference in the way in which the generic layer
treats queueing for IDE devices. In 2.4, IDE devices are `head active',
so the request at the head of the queue is under I/O. But SCSI isn't
head-active. Requests get removed from the head of the queue prior to
being serviced. At least, that's how I think it goes. I also believe that
the 2.4 elevator does not look at the active request at the head when making
merging decisions.

But in 2.5, head-activeness went away and as far as I know, IDE and SCSI are
treated the same. Odd.

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