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SubjectRe: New net features for added performance
Jeff Garzik wrote:
> 1) Rx Skb recycling.
> 2) Tx packet grouping.
> 3) Slabbier packet allocation.

Let's see what the profiler says. 10 seconds of TCP xmit
followed by 10 seconds of TCP receive. 100 mbits/sec.
Kernel 2.4.2+ZC.

c0119470 do_softirq 97 0.7132
c020e718 ip_output 99 0.3694
c020a2c8 ip_route_input 103 0.2893
c01fdc4c skb_release_data 113 1.0089
c021312c tcp_sendmsg 113 0.0252
c0129c64 kmalloc 117 0.3953
c0112efc __wake_up_sync 128 0.6667
c01fdd24 __kfree_skb 153 0.6071
c020e824 ip_queue_xmit 154 0.1149
c011be80 del_timer 163 2.2639
c0222fac tcp_v4_rcv 173 0.1022
c010a778 handle_IRQ_event 178 1.4833
c01127fc schedule 200 0.1259
c01d39f8 boomerang_rx 332 0.2823
c024284c csum_partial_copy_generic 564 2.2742
c01d2c84 boomerang_start_xmit 654 0.9033
c0242b3c __generic_copy_from_user 733 12.2167
c01d329c boomerang_interrupt 910 0.8818
c01071f4 poll_idle 41813 1306.6562
00000000 total 48901 0.0367
7088 non-idle ticks.
153+117+113 ticks in skb/memory type functions.

So, naively, the most which can be saved here by optimising
the skb and memory usage is 5% of networking load. (1% of
system load @100 mbps)

Total device driver cost is 27% of the networking load.

All the meat is in the interrupt load. The 3com driver
transfers about three packets per interrupt. Here's
the system load (dual CPU):

Doing 100mbps TCP send with netperf: 14.9%
Doing 100mbps TCP receive with netperf: 23.3%

When tx interrupt mitigation is disabled we get 1.5 packets
per interrupt doing transmit:

Doing 100mbps TCP send with netperf: 16.1%
Doing 100mbps TCP receive with netperf: 24.0%

So a 2x reduction in interrupt frequency on TCP transmit has
saved 1.2% of system load. That's 8% of networking load, and,
presumably, 30% of the driver load. That all seems to make sense.

The moral?

- Tuning skb allocation isn't likely to make much difference.
- At the device-driver level the most effective thing is
to reduce the number of interrupts.
- If we can reduce the driver cost to *zero*, we improve
TCP efficiency by 27%.
- At the system level the most important thing is to rewrite
applications to use sendfile(). (But Rx is more expensive
than Tx, so even this ain't the main game).

I agree that batching skbs into hard_start_xmit() may allow
some driver optimisations. Pass it a vector of skbs rather
than one, and let it return an indication of how many were
actually consumed. But we'd need to go through an exercise
like the above beforehand - it may not be worth the
protocol-level trauma.

I suspect that a thorough analysis of the best way to
use Linux networking, and then a rewrite of important
applications so they use the result of that analysis
would pay dividends.

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