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SubjectRe: Unifying epoll,aio,futexes etc. (What I really want from epoll)
On Thu, 31 Oct 2002, Jamie Lokier wrote:

> Davide, I think you are right. That's why I said epoll was _nearly_ perfect :)
> Davide Libenzi wrote:
> > Jamie, the fact that epoll supports a limited number of "objects" was an
> > as-designed at that time. I see it quite easy to extend it to support
> > other objects. Futexes are a matter of one line of code int :
> Agreed - though I'd prefer if the overhead of creating a temporary fd
> for each futex were eliminated, as well as the potentially large fd
> table. (In a threaded app, it's reasonable to have many more futexes
> than sockets, and they are created and destroyed rapidly too. No data
> on how many of those futexes need to be registered, though).
> In other words, add another op to sys_futex() called FUTEX_EPOLL which
> directly registers the futex on an epoll interest list, and let epoll
> report those events as futex events.

Jamie, the futex support can be easily done with one line of code patch. I
still prefer the one-to-one mapping between futexes and files. It makes
everything easier. I don't really see futex creation/destroy as an high
frequency event that might be suitable for optimization. Usually you have
your own set of resources to be "protected" and in 95% of cases you know
those resources from the beginning.

> > Timer, as long as you access them through a file* interface ( like futexes )
> > will become trivial too. Another line should be sufficent for dnotify :
> Sorry (<humble/>), ignore timers. Somehow I picked up the idea that
> epoll_wait() didn't have a timeout from some example or other, which
> was very silly of me. I've read the patch properly now! Of course
> epoll supports timers - a timeout is quite enough for user space.

If you want to timeout I/O operations you can easily put a timer routine
in your main event scheduler loop. But I still like the idea of timers
easily accessible through a file* interface.

> > void __inode_dir_notify(struct inode *inode, unsigned long event)
> Agreed. This is looking good :)

I asked Linus what he thinks about this one-line patch.

> Someone suggested hooking into ->poll() as a less obtrusive way to
> implement epoll. You're probably right that it's quicker to hook
> directly as you have done, although it would be great if epoll could
> somehow "fall back" to using ->poll() in the cases where epoll isn't
> directly supported by a file object.

I'm currently investigating this ... looks like an easy way to support
"alien" files :)

> I wrote quite a lot about futexes above. That's because good futex
> support, and fallback to ->poll() would pretty much make epoll
> universal. What do you think of these ideas?:
> 1. Add FUTEX_EPOLL operation to futex.c, which registers a futex
> with an epoll interest list. This would cause FUTEX_WAKE
> calls on that address to generate epoll events. Some care is
> needed here to keep track of the exact number of events generated,
> because some rather subtle usages of futex depend on the
> return value from futex_wake being the _exact_ number of waiters
> that are woken. It would have to correspond to the exact number
> of events counted by userspace.

I still believe that the 1:1 mapping is sufficent and with that in place (
and the one line patch to kernel/futex.c ) futex support comes nicely.

> 2. Add a check to EP_CTL_ADD which checks whether a file supports
> epoll notifications natively. Perhaps a file_operations hook
> is in order here. If it does, great. If not, fall back to
> a generic mechanism that uses the file's ->poll() method. (I
> haven't thought through for sure how plausible this is).
> Magically, every kind of fd works, including special devices,
> and the things that are most performance critical (sockets,
> pipes, futexes) are tuned. Yum!

Yes, kind of. The hook for an efficent edge triggered event notification
should be something like the socket one where you have a ->data_ready()
and ->write_space(), where the caller of these callbacks know that signals
has to be delivered on 0->1 transactions. With the poll hook you have the
drawback that the wakeup list is invoked each time data arrives and this
might generate a little bit too many events. This is no a problem since
epoll collapse them, but still collapsing do cost CPU cycles.

> 3. Eliminate send_sigio() calls - pass all events to epoll, and let
> epoll dispatch signals where they have been registered. In
> combination with (2), this magically provides SIGIO support for
> all fd types as well.

I would leave as a next cleanup operation, eventually.

- Davide

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