Re: Attempted summary of suspend-blockers LKML thread

From: Arjan van de Ven
Date: Sun Aug 01 2010 - 18:47:34 EST

On Sun, 1 Aug 2010 12:12:28 -0700
"Paul E. McKenney" <paulmck@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> I agree that much progress has been made over the past four years.
> My laptop's battery life has increased substantially, with roughly
> half of the increase due to software changes. Taken over all the
> laptops and PCs out there, this indeed adds up to substantial and
> valuable savings.
> So, yes, you have done quite well.
> However, your reliance on application-by-application fixes, while good
> up to a point, is worrisome longer term. The reason for my concern is
> that computing history has not been kind to those who fail to
> vigorously automate. The Android guys have offered up one way of
> automating power efficiency. There might be better ways, but their
> approach does at the very least deserve a fair hearing -- and no one
> who read the recent LKML discussion of their approach could possibly
> mistake it for anything resembling a fair hearing.
> And yes, I do understand and appreciate your contributions in the
> form of things like timer aggregation, which does automate the
> otherwise-tricky task of coordinating power usage across unrelated
> applications, at least in some important cases. But power efficiency
> will likely require multiple approaches, especially if the Linux
> stack is to approach the power efficiencies provided by dedicated
> devices.

power indeed needs multiple approaches. For example the timer work you
mention. What the timer work allows is controlling the behavior of
applications that are not well behaved. This is an important way of
driving progress, one the android guys sort of swept under the table.

Is the flash plugin (which seems to be the most popular and also worst
behaving software in these type of discussions) waking up 100 times per
second? <small adjustment by a policy manager> ... now it's only waking
up once every 10 seconds, or when something else causes system activity

That capability is there in Linux today, and has been there for a long
time now. It's highly underused unfortunately... at least outside the
MeeGo world of Linux distributions.

Another one: freezing whole cgroups..... we have that today. it
actually works quite well.... of course the hard part is the decision
what to put in which cgroup, and at what frequency and duration you let
cgroups run.

on the suspend blockers for drivers; the linux device runtime PM is
effectively doing the same things; it allows drivers to suspend/resume
individually (with a very nice API/programming model I should say) based
on usage. And it works on a tree level, so that it's relatively easy
to do things like "I want to go to <this magic deep idle state>, but
only if <this set of devices is suspended already>". This is obviously
an important functionality for all low power devices, ARM or x86.
Suspend blockers had this functionality as part of what it did (they do
more obviously) but I'd wager that the current Linux infrastructure is
outright nicer.

It's what I want to be using for the Intel phone silicon (which isn't
all that different in power behavior/requirements than ARM based
silicon), and I need to thank Qualcomm here for providing some very
good patches to the kernel to allow this model to work for this

As for the aware-versus-good-behaving point; applications can be aware,
and yet bad behaving, and can be unaware but good behaving. You don't
like me saying this, but the reality is that the behavior matters in
the end. *AND WE OBSERVE THIS BEHAVIOR*. It's not hard to move a
program/task/whatever from a "behaves well, let run unrestricted" to a
"doesn't behave well, needs its behavior adjusted" list and back, just
from its behavior. PowerTOP observes such apps. Android has an
equivalent thing that observes app behavior. It's not all that hard to
detect such things.... and the result is much better than some static
"aware" flag one can tag an application with. The "aware" flag
indicates that there is a "before" and an "after", and that that's it.
Reality isn't so black and white as you stated, but that goes for both
sides. Observing *current* behavior is much more powerful.
Is the part of the app you use fine, even though some function you
don't use behave badly? No problem, you get it categorized with the
good guys. Is an app 98% working clean, but you on your phone like
using the 2% all the time? it's moved to the "must get its attitude
adjusted" list.

Arjan van de Ven Intel Open Source Technology Centre
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