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SubjectRe: Misaligned write performance: was Re: [Bench] Fileserving performance problems

On Fri, 19 Oct 2001, Robert Cohen wrote:
> However, look what happens if I run 5 copies at once.
> writing to file of size 60 Megs with buffers of 5000 bytes
> writing to file of size 60 Megs with buffers of 5000 bytes
> writing to file of size 60 Megs with buffers of 5000 bytes
> writing to file of size 60 Megs with buffers of 5000 bytes
> writing to file of size 60 Megs with buffers of 5000 bytes
> write elapsed time=33.96 seconds, write_speed=1.77
> write elapsed time=37.43 seconds, write_speed=1.60
> write elapsed time=37.74 seconds, write_speed=1.59
> write elapsed time=37.93 seconds, write_speed=1.58
> write elapsed time=40.74 seconds, write_speed=1.47
> rewrite elapsed time=512.44 seconds, rewrite_speed=0.12
> rewrite elapsed time=518.59 seconds, rewrite_speed=0.12
> rewrite elapsed time=518.05 seconds, rewrite_speed=0.12
> rewrite elapsed time=518.96 seconds, rewrite_speed=0.12
> rewrite elapsed time=517.08 seconds, rewrite_speed=0.12
> Here we see a factor of about 15 between write speed and rewrite speed.
> That seems a little extreme.

The cumulative plain write speed (non-rewrite) doesn't change much,
because plain writes can be re-ordered and running five copies at once
isn't THAT big of a deal (ie still ends up seeking much more than just one
file would, but it's not catastrophic).

> >From the amount of seeking happening, I believe that all the reads are
> being done as single page separate reads. Surely there should be some
> readahead happening.

Well, we _could_ do read-ahead even for the read-modify-write, but the
fact is that it doesn't tend to be worth it for real-life loads.

That's because read-modify-write is _usually_ of the type where you lseek,
and modify a smallish thing in-place: anybody who cares about performance
and does consecutive modifications should have coalesced them anyway, so
only made-up benchmarks actually show the problem.

> I tested the same program under Solaris and I get about a factor of 2
> difference regardless whether its one copy or 5 copies.

I wouldn't be surprised if Solaris just always reads ahead. Most "big
iron" unixes try very very hard to make all IO in big chunks, whether it
is necessary or not.

> I believe that this is an odd situation and sure it only happens for
> badly written program. I can see that it would be stupid to optimise for
> this situation.
> But do we really need to do this badly for this case?

Well, if you find a real application that cares, I might change my mind,
but right now read-ahead looks like a waste of time to me.. Does anybody
really do re-write in practice?

(Yes, I know about databases, but they tend to want to be cached anyway,
and tend to do direct block IO, not sub-block read-modify-write).


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