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SubjectRe: [PATCH 2/3] mm: page allocator: Calculate a better estimate of NR_FREE_PAGES when memory is low and kswapd is awake
On Fri,  3 Sep 2010 10:08:45 +0100
Mel Gorman <mel@csn.ul.ie> wrote:

> From: Christoph Lameter <cl@linux.com>
>
> Ordinarily watermark checks are based on the vmstat NR_FREE_PAGES as
> it is cheaper than scanning a number of lists. To avoid synchronization
> overhead, counter deltas are maintained on a per-cpu basis and drained both
> periodically and when the delta is above a threshold. On large CPU systems,
> the difference between the estimated and real value of NR_FREE_PAGES can
> be very high. If NR_FREE_PAGES is much higher than number of real free page
> in buddy, the VM can allocate pages below min watermark, at worst reducing
> the real number of pages to zero. Even if the OOM killer kills some victim
> for freeing memory, it may not free memory if the exit path requires a new
> page resulting in livelock.
>
> This patch introduces a zone_page_state_snapshot() function (courtesy of
> Christoph) that takes a slightly more accurate of an arbitrary vmstat counter.
> It is used to read NR_FREE_PAGES while kswapd is awake to avoid the watermark
> being accidentally broken. The estimate is not perfect and may result
> in cache line bounces but is expected to be lighter than the IPI calls
> necessary to continually drain the per-cpu counters while kswapd is awake.
>

The "is kswapd awake" heuristic seems fairly hacky. Can it be
improved, made more deterministic? Exactly what state are we looking
for here?


> +/*
> + * More accurate version that also considers the currently pending
> + * deltas. For that we need to loop over all cpus to find the current
> + * deltas. There is no synchronization so the result cannot be
> + * exactly accurate either.
> + */
> +static inline unsigned long zone_page_state_snapshot(struct zone *zone,
> + enum zone_stat_item item)
> +{
> + long x = atomic_long_read(&zone->vm_stat[item]);
> +
> +#ifdef CONFIG_SMP
> + int cpu;
> + for_each_online_cpu(cpu)
> + x += per_cpu_ptr(zone->pageset, cpu)->vm_stat_diff[item];
> +
> + if (x < 0)
> + x = 0;
> +#endif
> + return x;
> +}

aka percpu_counter_sum()!

Can someone remind me why per_cpu_pageset went and reimplemented
percpu_counters rather than just using them?

> extern unsigned long global_reclaimable_pages(void);
> extern unsigned long zone_reclaimable_pages(struct zone *zone);
>
> diff --git a/mm/mmzone.c b/mm/mmzone.c
> index f5b7d17..e35bfb8 100644
> --- a/mm/mmzone.c
> +++ b/mm/mmzone.c
> @@ -87,3 +87,24 @@ int memmap_valid_within(unsigned long pfn,
> return 1;
> }
> #endif /* CONFIG_ARCH_HAS_HOLES_MEMORYMODEL */
> +
> +#ifdef CONFIG_SMP
> +/* Called when a more accurate view of NR_FREE_PAGES is needed */
> +unsigned long zone_nr_free_pages(struct zone *zone)
> +{
> + unsigned long nr_free_pages = zone_page_state(zone, NR_FREE_PAGES);
> +
> + /*
> + * While kswapd is awake, it is considered the zone is under some
> + * memory pressure. Under pressure, there is a risk that
> + * per-cpu-counter-drift will allow the min watermark to be breached
> + * potentially causing a live-lock. While kswapd is awake and
> + * free pages are low, get a better estimate for free pages
> + */
> + if (nr_free_pages < zone->percpu_drift_mark &&
> + !waitqueue_active(&zone->zone_pgdat->kswapd_wait))
> + return zone_page_state_snapshot(zone, NR_FREE_PAGES);
> +
> + return nr_free_pages;
> +}

Is this really the best way of doing it? The way we usually solve
this problem (and boy, was this bug a newbie mistake!) is:

foo = percpu_counter_read(x);

if (foo says something bad) {
/* Bad stuff: let's get a more accurate foo */
foo = percpu_counter_sum(x);
}
if (foo still says something bad)
do_bad_thing();
In other words, don't do all this stuff with percpu_drift_mark and the
kswapd heuristic. Just change zone_watermark_ok() to use the more
accurate read if it's about to return "no".



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