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Subject[PATCH RFC 0/4] Paravirt-spinlock implementation for KVM guests (Version 0)
This patch-series implements paravirt-spinlock implementation for KVM guests,
based heavily on Xen's implementation. I tried to refactor Xen's spinlock
implementation to make it common for both Xen and KVM - but found that
few differences between Xen and KVM (Xen has the ability to block on a
particular event/irq for example) _and_ the fact that the guest kernel
can be compiled to support both Xen and KVM hypervisors (CONFIG_XEN and
CONFIG_KVM_GUEST can both be turned on) makes the "common" code a eye-sore.
There will have to be:

if (xen) {
} else if (kvm) {

or possibly:

alternative(NOP, some_xen_specific_call, ....)

type of code in the common implementation.

For the time-being, I have made this KVM-specific only. At somepoint in future,
I hope this can be made common between Xen/KVM.

More background and results for this patch below:

What is the Problem being solved?

Guest operating system can be preempted by hypervisor at any arbitrary point.
There is no mechanism (that I know of) where guest OS can disable preemption for
certain periods of time. One noticeable effect of this is with regard to
locking. Lets say one virtual-cpu of a guest (VCPUA) grabs a spinlock and before
it could relinquish the lock is preempted by hypervisor. The time-of-preemption
(when the virtual cpu is off the cpu) can be quite large. In that period, if
another of guest OS's virtual cpu (VCPUB) tries grabbing the same lock, it could
end up spin-waiting a _long_ time, burning cycles unnecessarily. To add to the
woes, VCPUB may actually be waiting for VCPUA to yield before it can run on
the same (physical) cpu. This is termed as the "lock-holder preemption" (LHP)
problem. The effect of it can be quite serious. For ex: reported 80% performance degradation because
of an issue attributed to LHP problem.


There are several solutions to this problem.

a. Realize that a lock-holder could have been preempted, and avoid spin-waiting
too long. Instead, yield cycles (to the lock-holder perhaps). This is a
common solution adopted by most paravirtualized-guests (Xen, s390, powerpc).

b. Avoid preempting a lock-holder while its holding a (spin-) lock.

In this scheme, guest OS can hint (set some flag in memory shared with
hypervisor) whenever its holding a lock and hypervisor could defer preempting
the guest vcpu when its holding a lock. With this scheme, we should never
have a lock-acquiring vcpu spin on a preempted vcpu to release its lock. If
ever it spins, its because somebody *currently running* is holding the lock -
and hence it won't have to spin-wait too long. IOW we are pro-actively
trying to prevent the LHP problem from occuring in the first place. This
should improve job turnaround time for some workloads. [1] has some
results based on this approach.

c. Share run-status of vcpu with guests. This could be used to optimize
routines like mutex_spin_on_owner().

Hypervisor could share run-status of vcpus in guest kernel memory. This would
allow us to optimize routines like mutex_spin_on_owner() - we don't spin-wait
if we relaize that the target vcpu has been preempted.

a) and c) are about dealing with the LHP problem, while b) is about preventing
the problem from happening.

This patch-series is along a). Its based against v2.6.35-rc4 kernel for both
guest and host.

I have patches for b) and c) as well - want to send them after more thorough
experimentation with various workloads.


Machine : IBM x3650 with 2 Dual-core Intel Xeon (5160) CPUs and 4972MB RAM
Kernel for host/guest : 2.6.35-rc4

Test :
Spawn a single guest under KVM with 4VCPUs, 3092MB memory, virtio disk
Guest runs kernel compile benchmark as:

time -p make -s -j20 bzImage

for 3 times in a loop.

This is repeated under varios over-commitment scenarios and
"vcpu/pcpu pinning configurations"

Overcommit scenarios are :

1x : only guest is running
2x : cpu hogs are started such that (hogs + guest vcpu count)/pcpu = 2
3x : cpu hogs are started such that (hogs + guest vcpu count)/pcpu = 3
4x : cpu hogs are started such that (hogs + guest vcpu count)/pcpu = 4

VCPU/PCPU pinning scenarion:

A : Each of the vcpu of the guest is pinned to a separate pcpu
B : No pinning. vcpu could run on any pcpu.
C : The 4 VCPUs of guest pinned to run inside a single dual-core CPU
(cpu 2,3 in this case)

Scenario A:

W/o patch W/ Patch Difference
Avg (std-dev) Avg. (std-dev)

1: 273.270 (1.051) 251.613 (1.155) 7.9%
2: 541.343 (57.317) 443.400 (2.832) 18.1%
3: 819.160 (9.218) 642.393 (2.646) 21.6%
4: 1020.493 (34.743) 839.327 (0.658) 17.8%

Scenario B:

1: 276.947 (0.644) 248.397 (1.563) 10.3%
2: 500.723 (5.694) 438.957 (6.112) 12.33%
3: 725.687 (5.267) 641.317 (3.902) 11.62%
4: 973.910 (21.712) 836.853 (2.754) 14.07%

Scenario C:

1: 564.610 (12.055) 420.510 (2.598) 25.52%
2: 750.867 (5.139) 618.570 (2.914) 17.61%
3: 950.150 (13.496) 813.803 (1.872) 14.35%
4: 1125.027 (5.337) 1007.63 (5.707) 10.43%

IMO this is good improvement with the patchset applied.



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