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SubjectRe: VM Report was:Re: Break 2.4 VM in five easy steps
On Fri, 8 Jun 2001, Mike Galbraith wrote:
> On Fri, 8 Jun 2001, Tobias Ringstrom wrote:
> > On Fri, 8 Jun 2001, Mike Galbraith wrote:
> > > I gave this a shot at my favorite vm beater test (make -j30 bzImage)
> > > while testing some other stuff today.
> >
> > Could you please explain what is good about this test? I understand that
> > it will stress the VM, but will it do so in a realistic and relevant way?
> Can you explain what is bad about this test? ;) It spins the same VM wheels

I think a load of ~30 is quit uncommon, and therefor it is unclear to me
that it would be a test that would be repesentative of most normal loads.

> as any other load does. What's the difference if I have a bunch of httpd
> allocating or a bunch of cc1/as/ld? This load has a modest cachable data
> set and is compute bound.. and above all gives very repeatable results.

Not a big difference. The difference I was thinking abount is the
difference between spawning lots of processes allocating, using and
freeing lots of memory, compared to a case where you have a few processes
touching a lot of already allocated pages in some pattern. I was
wondering whether optimizing for your case would be good or bad for the
other case. I know, I know, I should do more testing myself. And I
should probably not ask you, since you really really like your test,
and you will probably just say yes... ;-)

At home, I'm running a couple of computers. One of them is a slow
computer running Linux, serving mail, NFS, SMB, etc. I'm usually logged
in on a couple of virtual consoles. On this machine, I do not mind if all
shells, daemons and other idle processes are beeing swapped out in favor
of disk cache for the NFS and SMB serving. In fact, that is a very good
thing, and I want it that way.

Another maching is my desktop machine. When using this maching, I really
hate when my emacsen, browsers, xterms, etc are swapped out just to give
me some stupid disk cache for my xmms or compilations. I do not care if a
kernel compile is a little slower as long as my applications are snappy.

How could Linux predict this? It is a matter of taste, IMHO.

> I use it to watch reaction to surge. I watch for the vm to build to a
> solid maximum throughput without thrashing. That's the portion of VM
> that I'm interested in, so that's what I test. Besides :) I simply don't
> have the hardware to try to simulate hairy chested server loads. There
> are lots of folks with hairy chested boxes.. they should test that stuff.

Agreed. More testing is needed. Now if we would have those knobs and
wheels to turn, we could perhaps also tune our systems to behave as we
like them, and submit that as well. Right now you need to be a kernel
hacker, and see through all the magic with shm, mmap, a bunch of caches,
page lists, etc. I'd give a lot for a nice picture (or state diagram)
showing the lifetime of a page, but I have not found such a picture
anywhere. Besides, the VM seems to change every new release anyway.

> I've been repeating ~this test since 2.0 times, and have noticed a 1:1
> relationship. When I notice that my box is ~happy doing this load test,
> I also notice very few VM gripes hitting the list.

Ok, but as you say, we need more tests.

> > Isn't the interesting case when you have a number of processes using lots
> > of memory, but only a part of all that memory is beeing actively used, and
> > that memory fits in RAM. In that case, the VM should make sure that the
> > not used memory is swapped out. In RAM you should have the used memory,
> > but also disk cache if there is any RAM left. Does the current VM handle
> > this case fine yet? IMHO, this is the case most people care about. It is
> > definately the case I care about, at least. :-)
> The interesting case is _every_ case. Try seeing my particular test as
> a simulation of a small classroom box with 30 students compiling their
> assignments and it'll suddenly become quite realistic. You'll notice
> by the numbers I post that I was very careful to not overload the box in
> a rediculous manner when selecting the total size of the job.. it's just
> a heavily loaded box. This test does not overload my IO resources, so
> it tests the VM's ability to choose and move the right stuff at the right
> time to get the job done with a minimum of additional overhead.

I did not understand those numbers when I saw them the first time. Now, I
must say that your test does not look as silly as it did before.

> The current VM handles things generally well imho, but has problems
> regulating itself under load. My test load hits the VM right in it's
> weakest point (not _that_ weak, but..) by starting at zero and building
> rapidly to max.. and keeping it _right there_.
> > I'm not saying that it's a completely uninteresting case when your active
> > memory is bigger than you RAM of course, but perhaps there should be other
> > algorithms handling that case, such as putting some of the swapping
> > processes to sleep for some time, especially if you have lots of processes
> > competing for the memory. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that your
> > testcase falls into this second category (also known as thrashing).
> Thrashing? Let's look some numbers. (not the ugly ones, the ~ok ones;)
> real 9m12.198s make -j 30 bzImage
> user 7m41.290s
> sys 0m34.840s
> user : 0:07:47.69 76.8% page in : 452632
> nice : 0:00:00.00 0.0% page out: 399847
> system: 0:01:17.08 12.7% swap in : 75338
> idle : 0:01:03.97 10.5% swap out: 88291
> real 8m6.994s make bzImage
> user 7m34.350s
> sys 0m26.550s
> user : 0:07:37.52 78.4% page in : 90546
> nice : 0:00:00.00 0.0% page out: 18164
> system: 0:01:26.13 14.8% swap in : 1
> idle : 0:00:39.69 6.8% swap out: 0
> ...look at cpu utilization. One minute +tiny change to complete the
> large job vs the small (VM footprint) job.
> The box is not thrashing, it's working it's little silicon butt off.
> What I'm testing is the VM's ability to handle load without thrashing
> so badly that it loses throughput bigtime, stalls itself whatever..
> it's ability to regulate itself. I consider a minute and a half to
> be ~acceptable, a minute to be good, and 30 seconds to be excellent.
> That's just my own little VM performance thermometer.

Why isn't user+system+idle == real? SMP?

> > An at last, a humble request: Every problem I've had with the VM has been
> > that it either swapped out too many processes and used too much cache, or
> > the other way around. I'd really enjoy a way to tune this behaviour, if
> > possible.
> Tunables aren't really practical in VM (imho). If there were a dozen
> knobs, you'd have to turn a dozen knobs a dozen times a day. VM has
> to be self regulating.

Yes, that is of course the goal, but I'm suggesting that we would reach
the goal of a self-optimizing VM faster, if there were tunables to play
with. The human brain is a very good optimizer.

> In case you can't tell (the length of this reply) I like my fovorite
> little generic throughput test a LOT :-)

Point taken. :-)


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