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SubjectRe: what is the purpose of SLAB and SLUB (was: Re: [PATCH v3] mm/slab: Improve performance of gathering slabinfo) stats
On Thu, 25 Aug 2016, Mel Gorman wrote:

> Flipping the lid aside, there will always be a need for fast management
> of 4K pages. The primary use case is networking that sometimes uses
> high-order pages to avoid allocator overhead and amortise DMA setup.
> Userspace-mapped pages will always be 4K although fault-around may benefit
> from bulk allocating the pages. That is relatively low hanging fruit that
> would take a few weeks given a free schedule.

Userspace mapped pages can be hugepages as well as giant pages and that
has been there for a long time. Intermediate sizes would be useful too in
order to avoid having to keep lists of 4k pages around and continually
scan them.

> Dirty tracking of pages on a 4K boundary will always be required to avoid IO
> multiplier effects that cannot be side-stepped by increasing the fundamental
> unit of allocation.

Huge pages cannot be dirtied? This is an issue of hardware support. On
x867 you only have one size. I am pretty such that even intel would
support other sizes if needed. The case has been repeatedly made that 64k
pages f.e. would be useful to have on x86.


> Batching of tree_lock during reclaim for large files and swapping is also
> relatively low hanging fruit that also is doable in a week or two.

Ok these are good incremental improvement but they do not address the main
issue going forward.

> A high-order per-cpu cache for SLUB to reduce zone->lock contention is
> also relatively low hanging fruit with the caveat it makes per_cpu_pages
> larger than a cache line.

Would be great to have.

> If you want to rework the VM to use a larger fundamental unit, track
> sub-units where required and deal with the internal fragmentation issues
> then by all means go ahead and deal with it.

Hmmm... The time problem is always there. Tried various approaches over
the last decade. Could be a massive project. We really would need a
larger group of developers to effectively do this.

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