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SubjectRe: [PATCH] writeback: Don't wait for completion in writeback_inodes_sb_nr
On Wed 29-06-11 04:11:55, Christoph Hellwig wrote:
> On Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 06:56:41PM -0700, Curt Wohlgemuth wrote:
> > I don't quite understand this. It's true that all IO done as a result
> > of calling wb_writeback() on this work item won't finish before the
> > completion takes place, but sending all those pages in flight *will*
> > take place. And that's a lot of time. To wait on this before we then
> > call sync_inodes_sb(), and do it all over again, seems odd at best.
> >
> > Pre-2.6.35 kernels would start non-integrity sync writeback and
> > immediately return, which would seem like a reasonable "prefetch-y"
> > thing to do, considering it's going to be immediately followed by a
> > data integrity sync writeback operation.
> The only old kernel I have around is 2.6.16, so looking at that one
> for old semantics:
> - it first does a wakeup_pdflush() which does a truely asynchronous
> writeback of everything in the system. This is replaced with a
> wakeup_flusher_threads(0) in 3.0, which has pretty similar sematics.
> - after that things change a bit as we reordered sync quite a bit too
> a) improve data integrity by properly ordering the steps of the sync
> and b) shared code between the global sync and per-fs sync as
> used by umount, sys_syncfs and a few other callers. But both do
> an semi-sync pass and a sync pass on per-sb writeback. For the old
> code it's done from the calling threads context, while the next code
> moved it to the flushers thread, but still waiting for it with the
> completion. No major change in semantics as far as I can see.
> The idea of the async pass is to start writeback on as many as possible
> pages before actively having to wait on them. I'd agree with your
> assessment that the writeback_inodes_sb might not really help all that
> much - given that a lot of the waiting might not actually be for I/O
> completion but e.g. for the block level throtteling (or maybe cgroups
> in your case?).
> For sys_sync I'm pretty sure we could simply remove the
> writeback_inodes_sb call and get just as good if not better performance,
Actually, it won't with current code. Because WB_SYNC_ALL writeback
currently has the peculiarity that it looks like:
for all inodes {
write all inode data
wait for inode data
while to achieve good performance we actually need something like
for all inodes
write all inode data
for all inodes
wait for inode data
It makes a difference in an order of magnitude when there are lots of
smallish files - SLES had a bug like this so I know from user reports ;)

But with current inode list handling it will be hard to find all inodes
that need to be waited for which I guess is the reason why it is done
as it is done.

> but we'd still need a solution for the other sync_filesystem callers,
> assuming the first write actually benefits them. Maybe you can run
> some sys_syncfs microbenchmarks to check it? Note that doing multiple
> passes generally doesn't actually help live-lock avoidance either, but
> wu has recently done some work in that area.
> Another thing we've discussed a while ago is changing sync_inodes_sb
> to the writeback or at least the waiting back in the calling threads
> context to not block the flushers threads from getting real work done.
You mean that sync(1) would actually write the data itself? It would
certainly make some things simpler but it has its problems as well - for
example sync racing with flusher thread writing back inodes can create
rather bad IO pattern...

Jan Kara <>

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