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SubjectRe: [PATCH] procfs: provide slub's /proc/slabinfo

On Thu, 2008-01-03 at 18:21 -0800, Christoph Lameter wrote:
> On Thu, 3 Jan 2008, Matt Mackall wrote:
> > There are three downsides with the slab-like approach: internal
> > fragmentation, under-utilized slabs, and pinning.
> >
> > The first is the situation where we ask for a kmalloc of 33 bytes and
> > get 64. I think the average kmalloc wastes about 30% trying to fit into
> > power-of-two buckets. We can tune our buckets a bit, but I think in
> > general trying to back kmalloc with slabs is problematic. SLOB has a
> > 2-byte granularity up to the point where it just hands things off to the
> > page allocator.
> The 2 byte overhead of SLOB becomes a liability when it comes to correctly
> aligning power of two sized object. SLOB has to add two bytes and then
> align the combined object (argh!).

It does no such thing. Only kmallocs have 2-byte headers and kmalloc is
never aligned. RTFS, it's quite short.

> SLUB can align these without a 2 byte
> overhead. In some configurations this results in SLUB using even less
> memory than SLOB. See f.e. Pekka's test at

Available memory after boot is not a particularly stable measurement and
not valid if there's memory pressure. At any rate, I wasn't able to
reproduce this.

> > If we tried to add more slabs to fill the gaps, we'd exacerbate the
> > second problem: because only one type of object can go on a slab, a lot
> > of slabs are half-full. SLUB's automerging of slabs helps some here, but
> > is still restricted to objects of the same size.
> The advantage of SLOB is to be able to put objects of multiple sizes into
> the same slab page. That advantage goes away once we have more than a few
> objects per slab because SLUB can store object in a denser way than SLOB.

Ugh, Christoph. Can you please stop repeating this falsehood? I'm sick
and tired of debunking it. There is no overhead for any objects with
externally-known size. So unless SLUB actually has negative overhead,
this just isn't true.

> > And finally, there's the whole pinning problem: we can have a cache like
> > the dcache grow very large and then contract, but still have most of its
> > slabs used by pinned dentries. Christoph has some rather hairy patches
> > to address this, but SLOB doesn't have much of a problem here - those
> > pages are still available to allocate other objects on.
> Well if you just have a few dentries then they are likely all pinned. A
> large number of dentries will typically result in reclaimable slabs.
> The slab defrag patchset not only deals with the dcache issue but provides
> similar solutions for inode and buffer_heads. Support for other slabs that
> defragment can be added by providing two hooks per slab.

What's your point? Slabs have a inherent pinning problem that's ugly to
combat. SLOB doesn't.

> > By comparison, SLOB's big downsides are that it's not O(1) and it has a
> > single lock. But it's currently fast enough to keep up with SLUB on
> > kernel compiles on my 2G box and Nick had an allocator benchmark where
> > scalability didn't fall off until beyond 4 CPUs.
> Both SLOB and SLAB suffer from the single lock problem. SLOB does it for
> every item allocated. SLAB does it for every nth item allocated. Given
> a fast allocation from multiple processors both will generate a bouncing
> cacheline. SLUB can take pages from the page allocator pools and allocate
> all objects from it without taking a lock.

That's very nice, but SLOB already runs lockless on most of its target
machines by virtue of them being UP. Lock contention just isn't
interesting to SLOB.

> > > right now we are far away from it - SLUB has an order of
> magnitude
> > > larger .o than SLOB, even on UP. I'm wondering why that is so -
> SLUB's
> > > data structures _are_ quite compact and could in theory be used in
> a
> > > SLOB-alike way. Perhaps one problem is that much of SLUB's
> debugging
> > > code is always built in?
> >
> > I think we should probably just accept that it makes sense to have
> more
> > than one allocator. A 64MB single CPU machine is very, very
> different
> > than a 64TB 4096-CPU machine. On one of those, it probably makes
> some
> > sense to burn some memory for maximum scalability.
> I still have trouble to see that SLOB still has much to offer. An
> embedded
> allocator that in many cases has more allocation overhead than the
> default
> one?

For the benefit of anyone who didn't read this the last few times I
rehashed this with you:

- internal overhead for kmalloc is 2 bytes (or 3 for odd-sized objects)
- internal overhead for kmem_cache_alloc is 0 bytes (or 1 for odd-sized
- any unused space down to 2 bytes on any SLOB page can be allocated by
any object that will fit

- internal overhead for kmalloc averages about 30%
- internal overhead for kmem_cache_alloc is (slab-size % object-size) /
objects-per-slab, which can be quite large for things like SKBs and
task_structs and is made worse by alignment
- unused space on slabs can't be allocated by objects of other

The only time SLAB/SLUB can win in efficiency (assuming they're using
the same page size) is when all your kmallocs just happen to be powers
of two. Which, assuming any likely distribution of string or other
object sizes, isn't often.

Mathematics is the supreme nostalgia of our time.

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