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SubjectRe: high system cpu load during intense disk i/o
Date
On Tuesday 07 August 2007 03:37:08 Alan Cox wrote:
> > > acpi_pm_read is capable of disappearing into SMM traps which will make
> > > it look very slow.
> >
> > what is an SMM trap? I googled a bit but didn't get it...
>
> One of the less documented bits of the PC architecture. It is possible to
> arrange that the CPU jumps into a special mode when triggered by some
> specific external event. Originally this was used for stuff like APM and
> power management but some laptops use it for stuff like faking the
> keyboard interface and the Geode uses it for tons of stuff.
>
> As SMM mode is basically invisible to the OS what oprofile and friends
> see isn't what really occurs. So you see
>
> pci write -> some address
>
> you don't then see
>
> SMM
> CPU saves processor state
> Lots of code runs (eg i2c polling the battery)
> code executes RSM
>
> Back to the OS
>
> and the next visible profile point. This can make an I/O operation look
> really slow even if it isn't the I/O which is slow.

I always thought x86 is becoming a really dirty architecture. I now think it
is even uglier. :-p Thank you for the thorough explanation.

>
> > the reason I'm talking about a "software driver limit" is because I am
> > sure about some facts:
> > - The disks can reach very high speeds (60 MB/s on other systems with
> > udma5)
>
> Is UDMA5 being selected firstly ?

What the kernel selects by default is udma4 (66MB/s). I tried forcing udma5
(100MB/s) with hdparm even though I think my chipset doesn't support it, and
indeed there was a difference! After repetitive tests udma4 gives 20MB/s,
udma5 gives 22MB/s. I'm mostly surprised however that I could even set this
option.

>
> > So what is left? Probably only the corresponding kernel module.
>
> Unlikely to be the disk driver as that really hasn't changed tuning for a
> very long time. I/O scheduler interactions are however very possible.

I'm now trying to use the new libata driver and see what happens...


Thanks,
Dimitris
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