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SubjectRe: 2.6.12 Performance problems


--- Jesper Juhl <jesper.juhl@gmail.com> wrote:

> > > >>If you have preemtion enabled you could
> > > disable
> > > >>it. Low latency comes
> > > >>at the cost of decreased throughput -
> can't
> > > >>have both. Also try using
> > > >>a HZ of 100 if you are currently using
> 1000,
> > > >>that should also improve
> > > >>throughput a little at the cost of
> slightly
> > > >>higher latencies.
> > > >>
> > > >>I doubt that it'll do any huge
> difference,
> > > but
> > > >>if it does, then that
> > > >>would probably be valuable info.
> > > >>
> > > >>
> > > >>
> > > >Ok, well you'll have to explain this one:
> > > >
> > > >"Low latency comes at the cost of
> decreased
> > > >throughput - can't have both"
> > > >
> > > >
> > > Configuring "preempt" gives lower latency,
> > > because then
> > > almost anything can be interrupted
> (preempted).
> > > You can then
> > > get very quick responses to some things,
> i.e.
> > > interrupts and such.
> >
> > I think part of the problem is the continued
> > misuse of the word "latency". Latency, in
> > language terms, means "unexplained delay".
> Its
> > wrong here because for one, its explainable.
> But
> > it also depends on your perspective. The
> > "latency" is increased for kernel tasks,
> while it
> > may be reduced for something that is getting
> the
> > benefit of preempting the kernel. So you
> really
> > can't say "the price of reduced latency is
> lower
> > throughput", because thats simply backwards.
> > You've increased the kernel tasks latency by
> > allowing it to be pre-empted. Reduced latency
> > implies higher efficiency. All you've done
> here
> > is shift the latency from one task to
> another, so
> > there is no reduction overall, in fact there
> is
> > probably a marginal increase due to the
> overhead
> > of pre-emption vs doing nothing.
> >
>
>
> No. That's simply not correct.
>
> 1. Preempt adds overhead in tracking when it's
> safe to preempt and
> when it is not and overhead for checking if
> something needs to preempt
> something else at various points.
> This means more bookkeeping, which means more
> work done by the kernel
> and less work done on behalf of user processes
> == lower overall
> throughput / bandwith [1].
>
> 2. Every time a process is preempted work has
> to be done to switch to
> the new process, caches will be flushed/cold,
> stuff may have to paged
> in/out, etc.
> This means more copying of process related
> data and more cache misses
> == lower overall throughput.
>
> But, generally the overhead associated with
> preemption is low, which
> is also why I said in a previous email that on
> many systems you won't
> even notice it.
>
>
> But, this whole thing has gotten sidetracked
> into a discussion about;
> is preempt good or bad, what does the word
> "latency" means exactely
> (and I don't agree with your definition) [2].
>
> When I originally suggested to you to try a
> non-preempt kernel (if
> your current one is even using preempt, which
> you haven't told us) I
> was simply trying to gather a datapoint.
> Since preemption is a major thing that has
> changed from 2.4 to 2.6 and
> since in some cases it *does* impact
> performance I thought it would be
> a valid thing to eliminate it from the list of
> things that could be
> causing your problem. I also believe I said
> that I didn't think it
> would make a big difference, but that it
> /might/ and we might as well
> see what difference it does make (if any).
>
> So, if instead of arguing the exact meaning of
> a word, making
> statements about you /assuming/ that HZ or
> PREEMPT won't affect
> things, you had instead just *tested* it then
> we would have saved 2
> days of arguing and getting nowhere and could
> instead have gotten that
> little detail out of the way and then moved on
> to the next thing to
> check.
>
> When I made the suggestion I had hoped for a
> reply along the lines of this :
>
> I just tried a HZ=1000 + PREEMPT vs a HZ=100 +
> NO-PREEMPT kernel, and
> the NO-PREEMPT kernel achieves x% higher
> throughput. We seem to have a
> problem with PREEMPT.
>
> or
>
> Sorry Jesper, you were wrong, booting a kernel
> with HZ=100 and no
> PREEMPT makes absolutely no difference to my
> network throughput, so
> the bug must lie elsewhere.
>
>
> If you'd done that (and what would it have
> taken? all of 30min perhaps
> to build two kernels and test them), then
> everyone would have had a
> valid piece of information and could have gone
> off looking for a
> preempt related bug or put preempt out of their
> minds and gone hunting
> for the bug somewhere else.
> That was my intention with the original
> suggestion to test a no
> preempt kernel, not to start arguing the
> merrits of preemption in
> general or the exact meaning of the word
> "latency".

I did do it, and there was no difference. It
seemed that no one thought it was going to make a
3-fold difference, so it wasn't worthy of
reporting. When someone suggests "try this,
although I don't think its going to make much of
a difference", I usually don't get excited about
spending time trying it out. But I did, and it
made no difference. So I'm trying to get a handle
on the philosophy of how things work, so I tune
my tests without having to ask you, so I can get
my boss off my case about trying the new linux
version because he read somewhere that its
really, really fast.

Secondly, I think you said above what I said,
which is that pre-emption bookeeping adds
latency, because overhead = latency. The precise
meaning may not matter, but when the term is used
completely backwards, then it can be
misinterpreted or just plain disregarded. If
someone says "its slower because we reduced the
latency", I wonder if I'm talking to someone who
has credibility, because its like saying "only
the shortest guys could reach the top shelf". It
just makes no common sense. Pre-emption doesn't
reduce latency, it reduces CONTENTION for the
CPU. Using the word latency to describe anything
thats timing based is just wrong.

>
> Finally, here's a little article you might like
> to read :
>
http://www.linuxdevices.com/articles/AT5152980814.html

Articles are nice, mainly because they tell the
sunny side of the story without mentioning the
trade offs. If dropping packets is the price you
pay for it, then its worthy of mention. I don't
need a real-time OS, I need an OS that can
process a million packets/second without dropping
any. So my question isn't how suitable linux is
for mythTV, its about turning off all of the crap
that makes songs play nice and getting it to
stop dropping traffic, because dropped traffic
piss off my clients (who mostly use Windows to
listen to music).

Danial

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