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SubjectRe: spindown [was Re: 2.4.6-pre2, pre3 VM Behavior]
On Sunday 17 June 2001 12:05, Mike Galbraith wrote:
> It _juuust_ so happens that I was tinkering... what do you think of
> something like the below? (and boy do I ever wonder what a certain
> box doing slrn stuff thinks of it.. hint hint;)

It's too subtle for me ;-) (Not shy about sying that because this part of
the kernel is probably subtle for everyone.)

The question I'm tackling right now is how the system behaves when the load
goes away, or doesn't get heavy. Your patch doesn't measure the load
directly - it may attempt to predict it as a function of memory pressure, but
that's a little more loosely coupled than what I had in mind.

I'm now in the midst of hatching a patch. [1] The first thing I had to do is
go explore the block driver code, yum yum. I found that it already computes
the statistic I'm interested in, namely queued_sectors, which is used to pace
the IO on block devices. It's a little crude - we really want this to be
per-queue and have one queue per "spindle" - but even in its current form
it's workable.

The idea is that when queued_sectors drops below some threshold we have
'unused disk bandwidth' so it would be nice to do something useful with it:

1) Do an early 'sync_old_buffers'
2) Do some preemptive pageout

The benefit of (1) is that it lets disks go idle a few seconds earlier, and
(2) should improve the system's latency in response to load surges. There
are drawbacks too, which have been pointed out to me privately, but they tend
to be pretty minor, for example: on a flash disk you'd do a few extra writes
and wear it out ever-so-slightly sooner. All the same, such special devices
can be dealt easily once we progress a little further in improving the
kernel's 'per spindle' intelligence.

Now how to implement this. I considered putting a (newly minted)
wakeup_kflush in blk_finished_io, conditional on a loaded-to-unloaded
transition, and that's fine except it doesn't do the whole job: we also need
to have the early flush for any write to a disk file while the disks are
lightly loaded, i.e., there is no convenient loaded-to-unloaded transition to
trigger it. The missing trigger could be inserted into __mark_dirty, but
that would penalize the loaded state (a little, but that's still too much).
Furthermore, it's probably desirable to maintain a small delay between the
dirty and the flush. So what I'll try first is just running kflush's timer
faster, and make its reschedule period vary with disk load, i.e., when there
are fewer queued_sectors, kflush looks at the dirty buffer list more often.

The rest of what has to happen in kflush is pretty straightforward. It just
uses queued_sectors to determine how far to walk the dirty buffer list, which
is maintained in time-since-dirtied order. If queued_sectors is below some
threshold the entire list is flushed. Note that we want to change the sense
of b_flushtime to b_timedirtied. It's more efficient to do it this way

I haven't done anything about preemptive pageout yet, but similar ideas apply.

[1] This is an experiment, do not worry, it will not show up in your tree any
time soon. IOW, constructive criticism appreciated, flames copied to

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