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SubjectRe: [patch 0/8] mm: memcg naturalization -rc2
On Thu, Jun 09, 2011 at 10:36:47AM -0700, Ying Han wrote:
> On Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 1:35 AM, Johannes Weiner <> wrote:
> > On Wed, Jun 08, 2011 at 08:52:03PM -0700, Ying Han wrote:
> >> On Wed, Jun 8, 2011 at 8:32 AM, Johannes Weiner <> wrote:
> >> > I guess it would make much more sense to evaluate if reclaiming from
> >> > memcgs while there are others exceeding their soft limit is even a
> >> > problem.  Otherwise this discussion is pretty pointless.
> >>
> >> AFAIK it is a problem since it changes the spec of kernel API
> >> memory.soft_limit_in_bytes. That value is set per-memcg which all the
> >> pages allocated above that are best effort and targeted to reclaim
> >> prior to others.
> >
> > That's not really true.  Quoting the documentation:
> >
> >    When the system detects memory contention or low memory, control groups
> >    are pushed back to their soft limits. If the soft limit of each control
> >    group is very high, they are pushed back as much as possible to make
> >    sure that one control group does not starve the others of memory.
> >
> > I am language lawyering here, but I don't think it says it won't touch
> > other memcgs at all while there are memcgs exceeding their soft limit.
> Well... :) I would say that the documentation of soft_limit needs lots
> of work especially after lots of discussions we have after the LSF.
> The RFC i sent after our discussion has the following documentation,
> and I only cut & paste the content relevant to our conversation here:
> What is "soft_limit"?
> The "soft_limit was introduced in memcg to support over-committing the
> memory resource on the host. Each cgroup can be configured with
> "hard_limit", where it will be throttled or OOM killed by going over
> the limit. However, the allocation can go above the "soft_limit" as
> long as there is no memory contention. The "soft_limit" is the kernel
> mechanism for re-distributing spare memory resource among cgroups.
> What we have now?
> The current implementation of softlimit is based on per-zone RB tree,
> where only the cgroup exceeds the soft_limit the most being selected
> for reclaim.
> It makes less sense to only reclaim from one cgroup rather than
> reclaiming all cgroups based on calculated propotion. This is required
> for fairness.
> Proposed design:
> round-robin across the cgroups where they have memory allocated on the
> zone and also exceed the softlimit configured.
> there was a question on how to do zone balancing w/o global LRU. This
> could be solved by building another cgroup list per-zone, where we
> also link cgroups under their soft_limit. We won't scan the list
> unless the first list being exhausted and
> the free pages is still under the high_wmark.
> Since the per-zone memcg list design is being replaced by your
> patchset, some of the details doesn't apply. But the concept still
> remains where we would like to scan some memcgs first (above
> soft_limit) .

I think the most important thing we wanted was to round-robin scan all
soft limit excessors instead of just the biggest one. I understood
this is the biggest fault with soft limits right now.

We came up with maintaining a list of excessors, rather than a tree,
and from this particular implementation followed naturally that this
list is scanned BEFORE we look at other memcgs at all.

This is a nice to have, but it was never the primary problem with the
soft limit implementation, as far as I understood.

> > It would be a lie about the current code in the first place, which
> > does soft limit reclaim and then regular reclaim, no matter the
> > outcome of the soft limit reclaim cycle.  It will go for the soft
> > limit first, but after an allocation under pressure the VM is likely
> > to have reclaimed from other memcgs as well.
> >
> > I saw your patch to fix that and break out of reclaim if soft limit
> > reclaim did enough.  But this fix is not much newer than my changes.
> My soft_limit patch was developed in parallel with your patchset, and
> most of that wouldn't apply here.
> Is that what you are referring to?

No, I meant that the current behaviour is old and we are only changing
it only now, so we are not really breaking backward compatibility.

> > The second part of this is:
> >
> >    Please note that soft limits is a best effort feature, it comes with
> >    no guarantees, but it does its best to make sure that when memory is
> >    heavily contended for, memory is allocated based on the soft limit
> >    hints/setup. Currently soft limit based reclaim is setup such that
> >    it gets invoked from balance_pgdat (kswapd).
> We had patch merged which add the soft_limit reclaim also in the global ttfp.
> memcg-add-the-soft_limit-reclaim-in-global-direct-reclaim.patch
> > It's not the pages-over-soft-limit that are best effort.  It says that
> > it tries its best to take soft limits into account while reclaiming.
> Hmm. Both cases are true. The best effort pages I referring to means
> "the page above the soft_limit are targeted to reclaim first under
> memory contention"

I really don't know where you are taking this from. That is neither
documented anywhere, nor is it the current behaviour.

Yeah, currently the soft limit reclaim cycle preceeds the generic
reclaim cycle. But the end result is that other memcgs are reclaimed
from as well in both cases. The exact timing is irrelevant.

And this has been the case for a long time, so I don't think my rework
breaks existing users in that regard.

> > My code does that, so I don't think we are breaking any promises
> > currently made in the documentation.
> >
> > But much more important than keeping documentation promises is not to
> > break actual users.  So if you are yourself a user of soft limits,
> > test the new code pretty please and complain if it breaks your setup!
> Yes, I've been running tests on your patchset, but not getting into
> specific configurations yet. But I don't think it is hard to generate
> the following scenario:
> on 32G machine, under root I have three cgroups with 20G hard_limit and
> cgroup-A: soft_limit 1g, usage 20g with clean file pages
> cgroup-B: soft_limit 10g, usage 5g with clean file pages
> cgroup-C: soft_limit 10g, usage 5g with clean file pages
> I would assume reclaiming from cgroup-A should be sufficient under
> global memory pressure, and no pages needs to be reclaimed from B or
> C, especially both of them have memory usage under their soft_limit.

Keep in mind that memcgs are scanned proportionally to their size,
that we start out with relatively low scan counts, and that the
priority levels are a logarithmic scale.

The formula is essentially this:

(usage / PAGE_SIZE) >> priority

which means that we would scan as follows, with decreased soft limit
priority for A:

A: ((20 << 30) >> 12) >> 11 = 2560 pages
B: (( 5 << 30) >> 12) >> 12 = 320 pages
C: = 320 pages.

So even if B and C are scanned, they are only shrunk by a bit over a
megabyte tops. For decreasing levels (if they are reached at all if
there is clean cache around):

A: 20M 40M 80M 160M ...
B: 2M 4M 8M 16M ...

While it would be sufficient to reclaim only from A, actually
reclaiming from B and C is not a big deal in practice, I would
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