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SubjectRe: [patch 0/8] mm: thrash detection-based file cache sizing v5
On Mon, Oct 14, 2013 at 05:42:50PM -0400, Johannes Weiner wrote:
> Hi Dave,
> On Fri, Oct 11, 2013 at 11:39:30AM +1100, Dave Chinner wrote:
> > On Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 05:46:54PM -0400, Johannes Weiner wrote:
> > > Costs
> > >
> > > These patches increase struct inode by three words to manage shadow
> > > entries in the page cache radix tree.
> >
> > An additional 24 bytes on a 64 bit system. Filesystem developers
> > will kill to save 4 bytes in the struct inode, so adding 24 bytes is
> > a *major* concern.
> >
> > > However, given that a typical
> > > inode (like the ext4 inode) is already 1k in size, this is not much.
> > > It's a 2% size increase for a reclaimable object.
> >
> > The struct ext4_inode is one of the larger inodes in the system at
> > 960 bytes (same as the xfs_inode) - most of the filesystem inode
> > structures are down around the 600-700 byte range.
> >
> > Really, the struct inode is what you should be comparing the
> > increase against (i.e. the VFS inode footprint), not the filesystem
> > specific inode footprint. In that case, it's actually an increase of
> > closer to a 4% increase in size because we are talking about a 560
> > byte structure....
> >
> > > fs_mark metadata
> > > tests with millions of inodes did not show a measurable difference.
> > > And as soon as there is any file data involved, the page cache pages
> > > dominate the memory cost anyway.
> >
> > We don't need to measure it at runtime to know the difference - a
> > million inodes will consume an extra 24MB of RAM at minimum. If the
> > size increase pushes the inode over a slab boundary, it might be
> > significantly more than that...
> >
> > The main cost here is a new list head for a new shrinker. There's
> > interesting new inode lifecycle issues introduced by this shadow
> > tree - adding serialisation in evict() because the VM can now modify
> > to the address space without having a reference to the inode
> > is kinda nasty.
> This is unlikely to change, though. Direct reclaim may hold all kinds
> of fs locks so we can't reasonably do iput() from reclaim context.

Right, but you do exactly that from the new shrinker because it
doesn't have protection against being called in GFP_NOFS

> We already serialize inode eviction and reclaim through the page lock
> of cached pages.

Sure, we do that via truncate_inode_pages() but that is not playing
games with the inode life cycle - we know the inode is already dead
and all users of the pages are gone at the point we remove the pages
from the page cache.

That's kind of my point: the VM already has an address space
serialisation point in the evict() path via truncate_inode_pages() and
so I don't see any reason for you needing to introduce a new one
that disables/enables interrupts in the hot path regardless of
whether the flag needs to be set or not. Why can't you put this in
truncate_inode_pages() or some new wrapper and keep the
synchronisation wholly within the VM subsystem like we do now?

> I just added the equivalent for shadow entries,
> which don't have their own per-item serialization.

They don't need serialisation at the inode level - only between
page reclaim and the final address space truncate...

> > Also, I really don't like the idea of a new inode cache shrinker
> > that is completely uncoordinated with the existing inode cache
> > shrinkers. It uses a global lock and list and is not node aware so
> > all it will do under many workloads is re-introduce a scalability
> > choke point we just got rid of in 3.12.
> Shadow entries are mostly self-regulating and, unlike the inode case,
> the shrinker is not the primary means of resource control here. I
> don't think this has the same scalability requirements as inode
> shrinking.

Anything that introduces a global lock that needs to be taken in the
inode evict() path is a scalability limitation. I've been working to
remove all global locks and lists from the evict() path precisely
because they severely limit VFS scalability. Hence new code that
that introduces a global lock and list into hot VFS paths is simply
not acceptible any more.

> > I think that you could simply piggy-back on inode_lru_isolate() to
> > remove shadow mappings in exactly the same manner it removes inode
> > buffers and page cache pages on inodes that are about to be
> > reclaimed. Keeping the size of the inode cache down will have the
> > side effect of keeping the shadow mappings under control, and so I
> > don't see a need for a separate shrinker at all here.
> Pinned inodes are not on the LRU, so you could send a machine OOM by
> simply catting a single large (sparse) file to /dev/null.

Then you have a serious design flaw if you are relying on a shrinker
to control memory consumed by page cache radix trees as a result of
page cache reclaim inserting exceptional entries into the radix
tree and then forgetting about them.

To work around this, you keep a global count of exceptional entries
and a global list of inodes with such exceptional radix tree
entries. The count doesn't really tell you how much memory is used
by the radix trees - the same count can mean an order of
magnitude difference in actual memory consumption (one shadow entry
per radix tree node vs 64) so it's not a very good measure to base
memory reclaim behaviour on but it is an inferred (rather than
actual) object count.

And even if you do free some entries, there is no guarantee that any
memory will be freed because only empty radix tree nodes will get
freed, and then memory will only get freed when the entire slab of
radix tree nodes are freed.

This reclaim behaviour has potential to cause internal
fragmentation of the radix tree node slab, which means that we'll
simply spend time scanning and freeing entries but not free any

You walk the inode list by a shrinker and scan radix trees for
shadow entries that can be removed. It's expensive to scan radix
trees, especially for inodes with large amounts of cached data, so
this could do a lot of work to find very little in way of entries to

The shrinker doesn't rotate inodes on the list, so it will always
scan the same inodes on the list in the same order and so if memory
reclaim removes a few pages from an inode with a large amount of
cached pages between each shrinker call, then those radix trees will
be repeatedly scanned in it's entirety on each call to the shrinker.

Also, the shrinker only decrements nr_to_scan when it finds an entry
to reclaim. nr_to_scan is the number of objects to scan for reclaim,
not the number of objects to reclaim. hence the shrinker will be
doing a lot of scanning if there's inodes at the head of the list
with large radix trees....

Do I need to go on pointing out how unscalable this approach is?

> Buffers and page cache are kept in check by page reclaim, the inode
> shrinker only drops cache as part of inode lifetime management. Just
> like with buffers and page cache, there is no relationship between the
> amount of memory occupied and the number of inodes; or between the
> node of said memory and the node that holds the inode object.

Yes, but buffers and page cache pages are kept in check directly the
VM, not another shrinker. That's the big difference here - you're
introducing something that is the equivalent of pages or buffers
(i.e. allocated and controlled by the VM) and then saying that it
can't be controlled by the VM and we need to link inodes together so
a shrinker can do a new type of per-inode scan to find the VM
controlled objects.

Besides, doesn't the fact that you're requiring VFS cache lifecycle
awareness in the core VM functionality ring alarm bells about
layering violations in your head? They are loud enough to hurt my

> The
> inode shrinker does not really seem appropriate for managing excessive
> shadow entry memory.

It may not be - it was simply a suggestion on how we might be able
get rid of the nasty shrinker code in your patchset....

> > And removing the special shrinker will bring the struct inode size
> > increase back to only 8 bytes, and I think we can live with that
> > increase given the workload improvements that the rest of the
> > functionality brings.
> That would be very desirable indeed.
> What we would really want is a means of per-zone tracking of
> radix_tree_nodes occupied by shadow entries but I can't see a way to
> do this without blowing up the radix tree structure at a much bigger
> cost than an extra list_head in struct address_space.

Putting a list_head in the radix tree node is likely to have a lower
cost than putting one in every inode. Most cached inodes don't have
any page cache associated with them. Indeed, my workstation right
now shows:

$ sudo grep "radix\|xfs_inode" /proc/slabinfo
xfs_inode 277773 278432 1024 4 1 : tunables 54 27 8 : slabdata 69608 69608 0
radix_tree_node 74137 74956 560 7 1 : tunables 54 27 8 : slabdata 10708 10708 0

4x as many inodes as there are radix tree nodes in memory(*).
That's with 55% of memory being used by the page cache. So it's
pretty clear that tracking radix tree nodes directly might well be
lower cost than tracking address spaces and/or inodes....

(*) Note that the inode size is 1024 bytes in the config I'm using, so
increasing it is going to push it to only 3 inodes per page rather
than 4, so that extra 16 listhead means a 25% increase in memory
consumption for the inode cache, not 2%. The radix tree node can be
increased by 24 bytes and still fit 7 per page and so not actually
increase memory consumption at all....


Dave Chinner

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