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SubjectRe: [PATCH] kvm: add halt_poll_ns module parameter
Am 06.02.2015 um 13:48 schrieb Paolo Bonzini:
> This patch introduces a new module parameter for the KVM module; when it
> is present, KVM attempts a bit of polling on every HLT before scheduling
> itself out via kvm_vcpu_block.
> This parameter helps a lot for latency-bound workloads---in particular
> I tested it with O_DSYNC writes with a battery-backed disk in the host.
> In this case, writes are fast (because the data doesn't have to go all
> the way to the platters) but they cannot be merged by either the host or
> the guest. KVM's performance here is usually around 30% of bare metal,
> or 50% if you use cache=directsync or cache=writethrough (these
> parameters avoid that the guest sends pointless flush requests, and
> at the same time they are not slow because of the battery-backed cache).
> The bad performance happens because on every halt the host CPU decides
> to halt itself too. When the interrupt comes, the vCPU thread is then
> migrated to a new physical CPU, and in general the latency is horrible
> because the vCPU thread has to be scheduled back in.
> With this patch performance reaches 60-65% of bare metal and, more
> important, 99% of what you get if you use idle=poll in the guest. This
> means that the tunable gets rid of this particular bottleneck, and more
> work can be done to improve performance in the kernel or QEMU.
> Of course there is some price to pay; every time an otherwise idle vCPUs
> is interrupted by an interrupt, it will poll unnecessarily and thus
> impose a little load on the host. The above results were obtained with
> a mostly random value of the parameter (500000), and the load was around
> 1.5-2.5% CPU usage on one of the host's core for each idle guest vCPU.
> The patch also adds a new stat, /sys/kernel/debug/kvm/halt_successful_poll,
> that can be used to tune the parameter. It counts how many HLT
> instructions received an interrupt during the polling period; each
> successful poll avoids that Linux schedules the VCPU thread out and back
> in, and may also avoid a likely trip to C1 and back for the physical CPU.
> While the VM is idle, a Linux 4 VCPU VM halts around 10 times per second.
> Of these halts, almost all are failed polls. During the benchmark,
> instead, basically all halts end within the polling period, except a more
> or less constant stream of 50 per second coming from vCPUs that are not
> running the benchmark. The wasted time is thus very low. Things may
> be slightly different for Windows VMs, which have a ~10 ms timer tick.
> The effect is also visible on Marcelo's recently-introduced latency
> test for the TSC deadline timer. Though of course a non-RT kernel has
> awful latency bounds, the latency of the timer is around 8000-10000 clock
> cycles compared to 20000-120000 without setting halt_poll_ns. For the TSC
> deadline timer, thus, the effect is both a smaller average latency and
> a smaller variance.
> Signed-off-by: Paolo Bonzini <>

I can confirm that this also helps uperf with a 1/1 byte round trip work load
between guests on s390. And I can confirm the higher CPU load. This is normally
a no-go for the typical s390 users, which utilize their systems as much as
possible. Your check for single_task_running could actually solve that
problem because on overcommitment this will never switch to polling if the
runqueues get full.
Since this is also runtime configurable and defaults to 0 it should be pretty

The only question is: is there a sane way of doing autotuning?

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