Re: [patch 1/2] x86_64 page fault NMI-safe

From: Mathieu Desnoyers
Date: Wed Aug 04 2010 - 10:06:13 EST

* Peter Zijlstra (peterz@xxxxxxxxxxxxx) wrote:
> On Tue, 2010-08-03 at 11:56 -0700, Linus Torvalds wrote:
> > On Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 10:18 AM, Peter Zijlstra <peterz@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > >
> > > FWIW I really utterly detest the whole concept of sub-buffers.
> >
> > I'm not quite sure why. Is it something fundamental, or just an
> > implementation issue?
> The sub-buffer thing that both ftrace and lttng have is creating a large
> buffer from a lot of small buffers, I simply don't see the point of
> doing that. It adds complexity and limitations for very little gain.

The first major gain is the ability to implement flight recorder tracing
(overwrite mode), which Perf still lacks.

A second major gain: having these sub-buffers lets the trace analyzer seek in
the trace very efficiently by allowing it to perform a binary search for time to
find the appropriate sub-buffer. It becomes immensely useful with large traces.

The third major gain: for live streaming of traces, having sub-buffer lets you
"package" the event data you send over the network into sub-buffers. So the
trace analyzer, receiving this information live while the trace is being
recorded, can start using the information when the full sub-buffer is received.
It does not have to play games with the last event (or event header) perhaps
being incompletely sent, which imply that you absolutely _need_ to save the
event size along with each event header (you cannot simply let the analyzer
parse the event payload to determine the size). Here again, space wasted.
Furthermore, this deals with information loss: a trace is still readable even if
a sub-buffer must be discarded.

Making sure events don't cross sub-buffer boundaries simplify a lot of things,
starting with dealing with "overwritten" sub-buffers in flight recorder mode.
Trying to deal with a partially overwritten event is just insane.

> Their benefit is known synchronization points into the stream, you can
> parse each sub-buffer independently, but you can always break up a
> continuous stream into smaller parts or use a transport that includes
> index points or whatever.

I understand that you could perform amortized synchronization without
sub-buffers. I however don't see how flight recorder, efficient seek on multi-GB
traces (without reading the whole event stream), and live streaming can be

> Their down side is that you can never have individual events larger than
> the sub-buffer,

True. But with configurable sub-buffer size (can be from 4kB to many MB), I
don't see the problem.

> you need to be aware of the sub-buffer when reserving
> space

Only the ring buffer needs to be aware of that. It returns an error if the event
is larger than the sub-buffer size.



Mathieu Desnoyers
Operating System Efficiency R&D Consultant
EfficiOS Inc.
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