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SubjectRe: [RFC PATCH 0/3] Avoid the use of congestion_wait under zone pressure
On Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 09:20:58AM +0200, Christian Ehrhardt wrote:
> Johannes Weiner wrote:
> >On Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 02:22:36PM +0200, Christian Ehrhardt wrote:
> >>So now coming to the probably most critical part - the evict once
> >>discussion in this thread.
> >>I'll try to explain what I found in the meanwhile - let me know whats
> >>unclear and I'll add data etc.
> >>
> >>In the past we identified that "echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches" helps
> >>to improve the accuracy of the used testcase by lowering the noise from
> >>5-8% to <1%.
> >>Therefore I ran all tests and verifications with that drops.
> >>In the meanwhile I unfortunately discovered that Mel's fix only helps for
> >>the cases when the caches are dropped.
> >>Without it seems to be bad all the time. So don't cast the patch away due
> >>to that discovery :-)
> >>
> >>On the good side I was also able to analyze a few more things due to that
> >>insight - and it might give us new data to debug the root cause.
> >>Like Mel I also had identified "56e49d21 vmscan: evict use-once pages
> >>first" to be related in the past. But without the watermark wait fix,
> >>unapplying it 56e49d21 didn't change much for my case so I left this
> >>analysis path.
> >>
> >>But now after I found dropping caches is the key to "get back good
> >>performance" and "subsequent writes for bad performance" even with
> >>watermark wait applied I checked what else changes:
> >>- first write/read load after reboot or dropping caches -> read TP good
> >>- second write/read load after reboot or dropping caches -> read TP bad
> >>=> so what changed.
> >>
> >>I went through all kind of logs and found something in the system
> >>activity report which very probably is related to 56e49d21.
> >>When issuing subsequent writes after I dropped caches to get a clean
> >>start I get this in Buffers/Caches from Meminfo:
> >>
> >>pre write 1
> >>Buffers: 484 kB
> >>Cached: 5664 kB
> >>pre write 2
> >>Buffers: 33500 kB
> >>Cached: 149856 kB
> >>pre write 3
> >>Buffers: 65564 kB
> >>Cached: 115888 kB
> >>pre write 4
> >>Buffers: 85556 kB
> >>Cached: 97184 kB
> >>
> >>It stays at ~85M with more writes which is approx 50% of my free 160M
> >>memory.
> >
> >Ok, so I am the idiot that got quoted on 'the active set is not too big, so
> >buffer heads are not a problem when avoiding to scan it' in eternal
> >history.
> >
> >But the threshold inactive/active ratio for skipping active file pages is
> >actually 1:1.
> >
> >The easiest 'fix' is probably to change that ratio, 2:1 (or even 3:1?)
> >appears
> >to be a bit more natural anyway? Below is a patch that changes it to 2:1.
> >Christian, can you check if it fixes your regression?
> I'll check it out.
> from the numbers I have up to now I know that the good->bad transition
> for my case is somewhere between 30M/60M e.g. first and second write.
> The ratio 2:1 will eat max 53M of my ~160M that gets split up.
> That means setting the ratio to 2:1 or whatever else might help or not,
> but eventually there is just another setting of workload vs. memory
> constraints that would still be affected. Still I guess 3:1 (and I'll
> try that as well) should be enough to be a bit more towards the save side.
> >Additionally, we can always scan active file pages but only deactivate them
> >when the ratio is off and otherwise strip buffers of clean pages.
> In think we need something that allows the system to forget its history
> somewhen - be it 1:1 or x:1 - if the workload changes "long enough"(tm)
> it should eventually throw all old things out.

The idea is that it pans out on its own. If the workload changes, new
pages get activated and when that set grows too large, we start shrinking
it again.

Of course, right now this unscanned set is way too large and we can end
up wasting up to 50% of usable page cache on false active pages.

A fixed ratio does not scale with varying workloads, obviously, but having
it at a safe level still seems like a good trade-off.

We can still do the optimization, and in the worst case the amount of
memory wasted on false active pages is small enough that it should leave
the system performant.

You have a rather extreme page cache load. If 4:1 works for you, I think
this is a safe bet for now because we only frob the knobs into the
direction of earlier kernel behaviour.

We still have a nice amount of pages we do not need to scan regularly
(up to 50k file pages for a streaming IO load on a 1G machine).


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