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SubjectRe: [PATCH] Clustering indirect blocks in Ext3
Thanks for the great feedback Daniel!

Following this email, I'll be sending out two separate emails with the
actual patches, one against the latest stable kernel and one against
the latest mm patch, using the format suggested by you. Sorry about
the tabs and spaces thing, I've fixed my email client now.

Thanks for pointing out problems with the (free_blocks <= 0)
expression, I totally agree with you and have fixed it in the new
patch. Regarding some of the other points that you raised:

1. Worse performance with random read on large files using metaclustering:
This is a genuine drawback of this kind of metaclustering. In short,
the choice is between a slightly slower random read or a much faster
fsck. However, I believe that going forward, especially if and when we
port metaclustering to Ext4, slower random read will probably be less
of an issue, since there'll be fewer indirect blocks (due to the use
of extents) and so we'll be able to do more aggressive prefetching of
indirect blocks to help random reads.

That said, it would be great to see what random read performance other
users report since in my own experiments the degradation has been
somewhat smaller than I'd expect (I've also tried more complex random
read non-standard benchmarks that I haven't reported numbers for and
they did "reasonably ok" with metaclustering, but of course standard
reproducible results are always better).

2. Porting to Ext4:
It seems that popular opinion is that some form of metaclustering
could be useful for Ext4 as some other Ext4 hackers have also
suggested the same on LKML and I'd be glad to work on it. However, I
think metaclustering provides genuine value to current users of Ext3
and Ext2 and most people will agree that these two file systems are
very likely to remain popular for quite some time now (the backport of
metaclustering to Ext2 is quite trivial, so if metaclustering gets
accepted in Ext3, I'll probably release a "use-at-your-own-risk" patch
for Ext2 users).


On Jan 12, 2008 1:05 AM, Daniel Phillips <> wrote:
> On Friday 11 January 2008 16:04, Andrew Morton wrote:
> > It needs to be reviewed. In exhaustive detail. Few people can do
> > that and fewer are inclined to do so.
> Agreed, there just have to be a few bugs in this many lines of code.
> I spent a couple of hours going through it, not really looking at the
> algorithms but just the superficial details. I only found minor nits,
> and not many of those.
> For example, I do not like to see "if (free_blocks == 0)" written as"if
> (free_blocks <= 0)" in an attempt to increase robustness. What it
> actually does is make the effect of an error more subtle, or
> even "corrects" it. Firmly in the niggle category.
> I checked the locking of sbi->bginfo and didn't see a flaw, good.
> I see a missing KERN_INFO added to a printk, it technically counts as an
> unrelated change but oh well.
> Stylistically this new code is hard to tell apart from the incumbent
> code, except for being more heavily commented. I wish all kernel code
> was written this clearly.
> At this point I will run away in favor of for-real Ext3 hackers (you
> know who you are:-)
> > I went to merge it so it could get some testing while we await review
> > but the patch has all its tabs replaced with spaces, is seriously
> > wordwrapped and has random newlines added to it. Please fix email
> > client and resend (offlist is OK if it is unaltered).
> Odd, the original post has tabs and the updated one does not, though the
> client seems to be kmail in both cases.
> > We should have a think about which workloads are most likely to be
> > adversely affected by this change.
> I was just rolling up my sleeves to construct the nasty sequential case
> where the head keeps seeking back to the center of the group after
> picking up each 4 MB of doubly indexed data when I realized that even
> the most simple minded disk cache makes this case a non-issue. The
> drive will most likely suck a full track (roughly .5 MB) or big chunk
> thereof into cache the first time it seeks to the index cluster, thus
> having a whole group of double index blocks in cache and then will
> proceed to chew happily and linearly through the data blocks.
> It seems like placing those second level index blocks all together
> really helps this case. Hmm, how to break it.
> How about having a disk full of 100 MB files and skipping all over the
> disk randomly reading one block each time. That will fill the disk
> cache, and each random read then requires seeking to two places that
> were hopefully close together without index node clustering, and now
> will be an average of 32 MB apart. Each of these "extra" seeks costs a
> couple of ms worth of head travel plus average rotational latency of 4
> ms or so, for a total 6 ms. However, even with a perfect non-clustered
> layout, the index mode will still be an average of 2 MB away from the
> data block, so the rotational latency is still incurred and only the
> head travel is a little less, say 1 ms less. So the "extra" seek time
> for clustered is 6 ms vs 5 ms for non-clustered. Add in 8 ms for the
> long random seek and we have 14 ms vs 13 ms, or about 8% difference.
> Only a small regression there, and I tried hard. Barring mistakes in
> my estimates the sequential improvement above is large while the
> regression for the nasty random construction is small.
> Maybe somebody else will have better luck breaking it.
> Regards,
> Daniel

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