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Subject[RFC PATCH 0/3] sched: core balancer
Hi Ingo, Peter, Srivatsa,

The following series is an RFC for some code I wrote in conjunction with
some rt/cfs load-balancing enhancements. The enhancements arent quite
ready to see the light of day yet, but this particular fix is ready for
comment. It applies to sched-devel.

This series addresses a problem that I discovered while working on the rt/cfs
load-balancer, but it appears it could affect upstream too (though its much
less likely to ever occur).

Patches 1&2 move the existing balancer data into a "sched_balancer" container
called "group_balancer". Patch #3 then adds a new type of balancer called a
"core balancer".

Here is the problem statement (also included in Documentation/scheduler):

Core Balancing

The standard group_balancer manages SCHED_OTHER tasks based on a
hierarchy of sched_domains and sched_groups as dictated by the
physical cache/node topology of the hardware. Each group may contain
one or more cores which have a specific relationship to other members
of the group. Balancing is always performed on an inter-group basis.

For example, consider a quad-core, dual socket Intel Xeon system. It
has a total of 8 cores across one logical NUMA node, with a cache
shared between cores [0,2], [1,3], [4,6], [5,7]. From a
sched_domain/group perspective on core 0, this looks like the

domain-0: (MC)
span: 0x5
groups = 2 -> [0], [2]
domain-1: (SMP)
span: 0xff
groups = 4 -> [0,2], [1,3], [4,6], [5,7]
domain-2: (NUMA)
span: 0xff
groups = 1 -> [0-7]

Recall that balancing is always inter-group, and will get more
aggressive in the lower domains than the higher ones. The balancing
logic will attempt to balance between [0],[2] first, [0,2], [1,3],
[4,6], [5,7] second, and [0-7] last. Note that since domain-2 only
consists of 1 group, it will never result in a balance decision since
there must be at least two groups to consider.

This layout is quite logical. The idea is that [0], and [2] can
balance between each other aggresively in a very efficient manner
since they share a cache. Once the load is equalized between two
cache-peers, domain-1 can spread the load out between the other
peer-groups. This represents a pretty good way to structure the
balancing operations.

However, there is one slight problem with the group_balancer: Since we
always balance inter-group, intra-group imbalances may result in
suboptimal behavior if we hit the condition where lower-level domains
(domain-0 in this example) are ineffective. This condition can arise
whenever a domain-level imbalance cannot be resolved such that the
group has a high aggregate load rating, yet some cores are relatively

For example, if a core has a large but affined load, or otherwise
untouchable tasks (e.g. RT tasks), SCHED_OTHER will not be able to
equalize the load. The net result is that one or more members of the
group may remain relatively unloaded, while the load rating for the
entire group is high. The higher layer domains will only consider the
group as a whole, and the lower level domains are left powerless to
equalize the vacuum.

To address this concern, core_balancer adds the concept of a new
grouping of cores at each domain-level: a per-core grouping (each core
in its own unique group). This "core_balancer" group is configured to
run much less aggressively than its topologically relevant brother:
"group_balancer". Core_balancer will sweep through the cores every so
often, correcting intra-group vacuums left over from lower level
domains. In most cases, the group_balancer should have already
established equilibrium, therefore benefiting from the hardwares
natural affinity hierarchy. In the cases where it cannot achieve
equilibrium, the core_balancer tries to take it one step closer.

By default, group_balancer runs at sd->min_interval, whereas
core_balancer starts at sd->max_interval (both of which will respond
to dynamic programming). Both will employ a multiplicative backoff
algorithm when faced with repeated migration failure.



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