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SubjectRe: [linux-audio-dev] low-latency scheduling patch for 2.4.0
On Sat, Jan 13, 2001 at 12:30:46AM +1100, Andrew Morton wrote:
> what worries me about this is the Apache-flock-serialisation saga.
>
> Back in -test8, kumon@fujitsu demonstrated that changing this:
>
> lock_kernel()
> down(sem)
> <stuff>
> up(sem)
> unlock_kernel()
>
> into this:
>
> down(sem)
> <stuff>
> up(sem)
>
> had the effect of *decreasing* Apache's maximum connection rate
> on an 8-way from ~5,000 connections/sec to ~2,000 conn/sec.
>
> That's downright scary.
>
> Obviously, <stuff> was very quick, and the CPUs were passing through
> this section at a great rate.
>
> How can we be sure that converting spinlocks to semaphores
> won't do the same thing? Perhaps for workloads which we
> aren't testing?
>
> So this needs to be done with caution.
>

Hmmm...
if <stuff> is very quick, and is guaranteed not to sleep, then a semaphore
is the wrong way to protect it. A spinlock is the correct choice. If it's
always slow, and can sleep, then a semaphore makes more sense, although if
it's highly contented, you're going to serialize and throughput will die.
At that point, you need to redesign :-)
If it's mostly quick but occasionally needs to sleep, I don't know what the
correct idiom would be in Linux. DYNIX/ptx has the concept of atomically
releasing a spinlock and going to sleep on a semaphore, and that would be
the solution there e.g.

p_lock(lock);
retry:
...
if (condition where we need to sleep) {
p_sema_v_lock(sema, lock);
/* we got woken up */
p_lock(lock);
goto retry;
}
...
I'm stating the obvious here, and re-iterating what you said, and that is that
we need to carefully pick the correct primitive for the job. Unless there's
something very unusual in the Linux implementation that I've missed, a
spinlock is a "cheaper" method of protecting a short critical section, and
should be chosen.

I know the BKL is a semantically a little unusual (the automatic release on
sleep stuff), but even so, isn't

lock_kernel()
down(sem)
<stuff>
up(sem)
unlock_kernel()

actually equivalent to

lock_kernel()
<stuff>
unlock_kernel()

If so, it's no great surprise that performance dropped given that we replaced
a spinlock (albeit one guarding somewhat more than the critical section) with
a semaphore.

Tim

--
Tim Wright - timw@splhi.com or timw@aracnet.com or twright@us.ibm.com
IBM Linux Technology Center, Beaverton, Oregon
"Nobody ever said I was charming, they said "Rimmer, you're a git!"" RD VI
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