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SubjectRe: Page alloc failures under network/disk IO load
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On Thu, 2008-12-04 at 13:54 -0500, Dan Noé wrote:
> On Thu, 04 Dec 2008 09:42:08 +0100
> Peter Zijlstra <peterz@infradead.org> wrote:
>
> > On Thu, 2008-12-04 at 09:23 +0100, Peter Zijlstra wrote:
> > > On Wed, 2008-12-03 at 22:27 -0500, Dan Noé wrote:
> > > > This is on Linux 2.6.28-rc7, on a Core 2 Duo. The system has
> > > > plenty of memory:
> > > >
> > > > total used free shared buffers
> > > > cached
> > > > Mem: 1893 1822 70 0 0
> > >
> > > filled to the brim with data
> > >
> > > > 1573
> > > > -/+ buffers/cache: 249 1644
> > > > Swap: 1906 37 1868
> > > >
> > > > I am using rsync to transfer data onto this system. The
> > > > filesystem is XFS, and the target drive is a 1TB Western Digital
> > > > on ata_piix. The system files are on a RAID 1 (Linux md, also on
> > > > ata_piix).
> > > >
> > > > Periodically I get page allocation failures, from
> > > > __netdev_alloc_skb. I suppose this causes the driver to drop
> > > > packets and thus hurts performance.
> > >
> > > There isn't much we can do about that, memory is filled and your
> > > network card tries to allocate memory in a mode that doesn't allow
> > > freeing some.
> > >
> > > Looking at the timestamps its not very frequent, so it doesn't hurt
> > > performance much if anything. If you're really bothered with this,
> > > you could quiet it by sticking in a __GFP_NOWARN in
> > > __netdev_alloc_skb() or something..
> >
> > Another thing you can do is increase /proc/sys/vm/min_free_kbytes
>
> I'm a bit confused because on another system (2.6.26.3) I never see
> messages like this despite having the same amount of physical RAM in
> each. The 2.6.26.3 system is also under more active use, and has more
> userspace memory usage. On that system:
>
> total used free shared buffers
> cached Mem: 2017 1681 335 0
> 99 603 -/+ buffers/cache: 979 1037
> Swap: 972 137 835
>
> dpn@colobus:~$ cat /proc/sys/vm/min_free_kbytes
> 3816
>
> Yet on the system where I saw the allocation failures:
>
> dpn@trout:~/kernels/linux-2.6$ cat /proc/sys/vm/min_free_kbytes
> 5711
>
> If I understand it correctly the issue is that __netdev_alloc_skb must
> make a GFP_ATOMIC allocation, which fails because the page cache must
> evict pages before there is sufficient memory. And
> min_free_kbytes allows tuning of the point where try_to_free_pages is
> called and thus the "reserve" memory available. Is that correct?

yes

> Wouldn't a higher min_free_kbytes mean less likelihood of GFP_ATOMIC
> allocations failing? Or are these allocations failing on my 2.6.26.3
> system and I don't know it because of different config options?
>
> Why am I seeing this on the system with the *higher* min_free_kbytes?

Higher burst rate? For the reserve pool to dry out, you need a high rate
of incoming packets. If one machine has a steady workload and the other
a bursty one, that could be the full difference.

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