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SubjectRe: [PATCH 0/5] Prevent kswapd dumping excessive amounts of memory in response to high-order allocations V2
On Wed, Dec 08, 2010 at 05:55:30PM -0800, Simon Kirby wrote:
> Hmm...
> Wouldn't it make more sense for the fast path page allocator to allocate
> weighted-round-robin (by zone size) from each zone, rather than just
> starting from the highest and working down?

Unfortunately, that would cause other problems. Zones are about
addressing limitations. The DMA zone is used by callers that cannot
address above 16M. On the other extreme, the HighMem zone is used for
addresses that cannot be directly mapped at all times due to a lack of
virtual address space.

If we round-robined the zones, callers that could use HighMem or Normal
may consume memory from DMA32 or DMA causing future allocation requests
that require those zones to fail.

> This would mean that each zone would get a proportional amount of
> allocations and reclaiming a bit from each would likely throw out the
> oldest allocations, rather than some of that and and some more recent
> stuff that was allocated at the beginning of the lower zone.
> For example, with the current approach, a time progression of allocations
> looks like this (N=Normal, D=DMA32): 1N 2N 3N 4D 5D 6D 7D 8D 9D
> ...once the watermark is hit, kswapd reclaims 1 and 4, since they're
> oldest in each zone, but 2 and 3 were allocated earlier.
> Versus a weighted-round-robin approach: 1N 2D 3D 4N 5D 6D 7N 8D 9D
> ...kswapd reclaims 1 and 2, and they're oldest in time and maybe LRU.
> Things probably eventually mix up enough once the system has reclaimed
> and allocated more for a while with the current approach, but the
> allocations are still chunky depending on how many extra things kswapd
> reclaims to reach higher-order watermarks, and doesn't this always mess
> with the LRU when the there are multiple usable zones?

If addressing limitations were not a problem, we'd just have a single
zone :/

> Anyway, this approach might be horrible for some other reasons (page
> allocations hoping to be sequential? bigger cache footprint?), but it
> might reduce the requirements for other other workarounds, and it would
> make the LRU node-wide instead of zone-wide.

Node-wide would be preferably from a page aging perspective but as zones
are about addressing limitations, we need to be able to reclaim zones
from a specific zone quickly and not have to scan looking for suitable

Mel Gorman
Part-time Phd Student Linux Technology Center
University of Limerick IBM Dublin Software Lab

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