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SubjectRe: Understanding I/O behaviour - next try
On Tue, Aug 28, 2007 at 08:53:07AM -0700, Martin Knoblauch wrote:
> The basic setup is a dual x86_64 box with 8 GB of memory. The DL380
> has a HW RAID5, made from 4x72GB disks and about 100 MB write cache.
> The performance of the block device with O_DIRECT is about 90 MB/sec.
> The problematic behaviour comes when we are moving large files through
> the system. The file usage in this case is mostly "use once" or
> streaming. As soon as the amount of file data is larger than 7.5 GB, we
> see occasional unresponsiveness of the system (e.g. no more ssh
> connections into the box) of more than 1 or 2 minutes (!) duration
> (kernels up to 2.6.19). Load goes up, mainly due to pdflush threads and
> some other poor guys being in "D" state.
> Just by chance I found out that doing all I/O inc sync-mode does
> prevent the load from going up. Of course, I/O throughput is not
> stellar (but not much worse than the non-O_DIRECT case). But the
> responsiveness seem OK. Maybe a solution, as this can be controlled via
> mount (would be great for O_DIRECT :-).
> In general 2.6.22 seems to bee better that 2.6.19, but this is highly
> subjective :-( I am using the following setting in /proc. They seem to
> provide the smoothest responsiveness:
> vm.dirty_background_ratio = 1
> vm.dirty_ratio = 1
> vm.swappiness = 1
> vm.vfs_cache_pressure = 1

You are apparently running into the sluggish kupdate-style writeback
problem with large files: huge amount of dirty pages are getting
accumulated and flushed to the disk all at once when dirty background
ratio is reached. The current -mm tree has some fixes for it, and
there are some more in my tree. Martin, I'll send you the patch if
you'd like to try it out.

> Another thing I saw during my tests is that when writing to NFS, the
> "dirty" or "nr_dirty" numbers are always 0. Is this a conceptual thing,
> or a bug?

What are the nr_unstable numbers?


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