Re: [PATCH] speed up SATA

From: Jens Axboe
Date: Sun Mar 28 2004 - 13:18:21 EST

On Sun, Mar 28 2004, Jamie Lokier wrote:
> Jens Axboe wrote:
> > Sorry, but I cannot disagree more. You think an artificial limit at
> > the block layer is better than one imposed at the driver end, which
> > actually has a lot more of an understanding of what hardware it is
> > driving? This makes zero sense to me. Take floppy.c for instance, I
> > really don't want 1MB requests there, since that would take a minute
> > to complete. And I might not want 1MB requests on my Super-ZXY
> > storage, because that beast completes io easily at an iorate of
> > 200MB/sec.
> The driver doesn't know how fast the drive is either.
> Without timing the drive, interface, and for different request sizes,
> neither the block layer _nor_ the driver know a suitable size.

The driver may not know exactly, but it does know a ball park figure.
You know if you are driving floppy (sucky transfer and latency), hard
drive, cdrom (decent transfer, sucky seeks), etc.

> > I absolutely refuse to put a global block layer 'optimal io
> > size' restriction in, since that is the ugliest of policies and
> > without having _any_ knowledge of what the hardware can do.
> But the driver doesn't have _any_ knowledge of what the I/O scheduler
> wants. 1MB requests may be a cut-off above which there is negligable

It's not what the io scheduler wants, it's what you can provide at a
reasonable latency. You cannot preempt that unit of io.

> throughput gain for SATA, but those requests may be _far_ too large
> for a low-latency I/O scheduling requirement.
> If we have a high-level latency scheduling constraint that userspace
> should be able to issue a read and get the result within 50ms, or that
> the average latency for reads should be <500ms, how does the SATA
> driver limiting requests to 1MB help? It depends on the attached drive.

Yep it sure does, but try and find a drive attached to a SATA controller
that cannot do 40MiB/sec (or something like that). Storage doesn't move
_that_ fast, you can keep up.

> The fundamental problem here is that neither the driver nor the block
> layer have all the information needed to select optimal or maximum
> request sizes. That can only be found by timing the device, perhaps
> every time a request is made, and adjusting the I/O scheduling and
> request splitting parameters according to that timing and high-level
> latency requirements.

I agree with that, completely. And I still maintain that putting the
restriction blindly into the hands of the block layer is not a good
idea. The driver may not know completely what storage is attached to it,
but it can peek and poke and get a general idea. As it stands right now,
the block layer has _zero_ knowledge. Unless you start adding timing and
imposing max request size based on the latencies. If you do that, then I
would be quite happy with changing ->max_sectors to be the hardware

> >From that point of view, the generic block layer is exactly the right
> place to determine those parameters, because the calculation is not
> device-specific.

If you start adding that type of code. That's a different discussion
than this one, though, and it would raise a new set of problems (AS io
scheduler already does some of this privately).

Jens Axboe

To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in
the body of a message to majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
More majordomo info at
Please read the FAQ at