PROBLEM + POSS FIX: kernel stack overflow, xfs, many disks, heavywrite load, 8k stack, x86-64

From: John Berthels
Date: Wed Apr 07 2010 - 07:13:34 EST

Hi folks,

[I'm afraid that I'm not subscribed to the list, please cc: me on any reply].

Problem: x86_64 kernel locks up under write-heavy I/O load. It is "fixed" by changing THREAD_ORDER to 2.

Is this an OK long-term solution/should this be needed? As far as I can see from searching, there is an expectation that xfs would generally work with 8k stacks (THREAD_ORDER 1). We don't have xfs stacked over LVM or anything else.

If anyone can offer any advice on this, that would be great. I understand larger kernel stacks may introduce problems in getting an allocation of the appropriate size. So am I right in thinking the symptom we need to look out for would be an error on fork() or clone()? Or will the box panic in that case?

Details below.



Background: We have a cluster of systems with roughly the following specs (2GB RAM, 24 (twenty-four) 1TB+ disks, Intel Core2 Duo @ 2.2GHz).

Following a the addition of three new servers to the cluster, we started seeing a high incidence of intermittent lockups (up to several times per day for some servers) across both the old and new servers. Prior to that, we saw this problem only rarely (perhaps once per 3 months).

Adding the new servers will have changed the I/O patterns to all servers. The servers receive a heavy write load, often with many slow writers (as well as a read load).

Servers would become unresponsive, with nothing written to /var/log/messages. Setting sysctl kernel.panic=300 caused a restart (which showed the kernel was panicing and unable to write at the time). netconsole showed a variety of stack traces, mostly related to xfs_write activity (but then, that's what the box spends it's time doing).

22/24 of the disks have 1 partition, formatted with xfs (over the partition, not over LVM). The other 2 disks have 3 partitions: xfs data, swap and a RAID1 partition contributing to an ext3 root filesystem mounted on /dev/md0.

We have tried various solutions (different kernels from ubuntu server 2.6.28->2.6.32).

Vanilla from + stack tracing still has the problem, and logged:

kernel: [58552.740032] flush-8:112 used greatest stack depth: 184 bytes left

a short while before dying.

Vanilla + stack tracing + THREAD_ORDER 2 is much more stable (no lockups so far, we would have expected 5-6 by now) and has logged:

kernel: [44798.183507] apache2 used greatest stack depth: 7208 bytes left

which I understand (possibly wrongly) as concrete evidence that we have exceeded 8k of stack space.

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