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SubjectRe: O_DIRECT fails in some kernel and FS
On Mon, 2002-02-04 at 12:22, Daniel Phillips wrote:
> On February 4, 2002 05:02 pm, Steve Lord wrote:
> > But async I/O itself needs synchronisation (being English in this email ;-)
> > to be meaningful. If I issue a bunch of async I/O calls which overlap with
> > each other then the outcome is really undefined in terms of what ends up
> > on the disk. Scheduling of the actual I/O operations is really no different
> > from them being synchronous calls from different user space threads.
> >
> > The only questions you can really ask is 'is read atomic with respect to
> > write?' and 'are writes atomic with respect to each other?'. So when you
> > perform a read it sees data from before or after writes, but never sees
> > data from half way through a write. And for multiple write calls the output
> > appears as if one write happened after the other, not intermingled
> > with each other.
> Why is it not ok to have the writes come out intermingled, if that's what the
> user has asked for? (Implicitly, by not synchronizing the writes.)

I cannot quote a source, but I have heard people say Posix - or some
other standard, all I can find on google is people saying read is
atomic wrt to write, but there is no definition of writes wrt other

> > Irix actually takes the viewpoint that it only needs to make a best effort
> > at synchronizing between direct I/O and other modes of I/O. Multiple
> > direct writers are allowed into a file at once, and direct writers and
> > buffered readers are also allowed to operate in parallel. At this point
> > coherency is really up to the applications. I am not presenting this as
> > a recommended model for linux, just reporting what it does.
> I'm having a little trouble with this. Suppose an application does direct
> IO on a file but, unbeknownst to it, some other program has done buffered
> IO on the file, so that there are still dirty blocks in the page cache,
> waiting to land by surprise on top of unbuffered data. A third program
> may come along to do buffered IO on the file, and find stale blocks in
> cache. Am I missing something here?

No you are not, I did not say it was totally coherent, at the start of
the direct I/O the caches are made coherent, they can drift apart during
the operation if buffered or mmapped I/O is ongoing during the operation,
and yes those blocks are stale in the cache.

In normal life people do not seem to mix direct I/O and other forms of
I/O in parallel.

If you want full coherency you have to lock out page faults and buffered
I/O during direct I/O. You also need to deadlock avoidance code for the
case where someone does this:

fd = open("file", O_DIRECT|O_RDWR);
mem = mmap(&addr, 40960, PROT_READ|PROT_WRITE, MAP_SHARED, fd, 20480);
read(fd, mem, 32768);


> --
> Daniel

Steve Lord voice: +1-651-683-3511
Principal Engineer, Filesystem Software email:
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