Re: 2.6.35 Regression: Ages spent discarding blocks that weren't used!

From: Nigel Cunningham
Date: Sat Aug 07 2010 - 18:48:00 EST


On 07/08/10 08:07, Hugh Dickins wrote:
On Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 9:40 PM, Nigel Cunningham<nigel@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
On 06/08/10 11:15, Hugh Dickins wrote:
On Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 11:28 PM, Nigel Cunningham<nigel@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
On 05/08/10 13:58, Hugh Dickins wrote:

I agree it would make more sense to discard swap when freeing rather
than when allocating, I wish we could. But at the freeing point we're
often holding a page_table spinlock at an outer level, and it's just
one page we're given to free. Freeing is an operation you want to be
comfortable doing when you're short of resources, whereas discard is a
kind of I/O operation which needs resources.

The more I think about this, the more it seems to me that doing the discard
at allocation time is just wrong. How about a strategy in which you do the
discard immediately if resources permit, or flag it as in need of doing (at
a future swap free of that page or swap off time) if things are too
pressured at the moment? I haven't put thought into what data structures
could be used for that - just want to ask for now if you'd be happy with the
idea of looking into a strategy like that.

We're going round in circles here. I have already agreed with you
that doing it at swap free time seems more natural, but explained that
there are implementation difficulties there, so doing it at allocation
time proved both much less messy and more efficient. I can imagine
advances that would sway me to putting in more effort there
(duplicating the scan for a free 1MB every time a page of swap is
freed? doesn't sound efficient to me, but if it saves us from an
inefficiency of too many or too late discards, perhaps it could work
out). However, a recently introduced regression does not make a
strong case for adding in hacks - not yet anyway.

Okay; sorry.

I've done the bisect now - spent the time today instead of on the place, and

That's great, many thanks!

it took me to fbbf055692aeb25c54c49d9ca84532de836fbba0. This is Christoph's
Hellwig's patch "block: fix DISCARD_BARRIER requests".

block: fix DISCARD_BARRIER requests

Filesystems assume that DISCARD_BARRIER are full barriers, so that they
don't have to track in-progress discard operation when submitting new I/O.
But currently we only treat them as elevator barriers, which don't
actually do the nessecary queue drains.

where the discard barrier changes from REQ_SOFTBARRIER to REQ_HARDBARRIER.

If REQ_SOFTBARRIER means that the device is still free to reorder a
write, which was issued after discard completion was reported, before
the discard (so later discarding the data written), then certainly I
agree with Christoph (now Cc'ed) that the REQ_HARDBARRIER is
unavoidable there; but if not, then it's not needed for the swap case.
I hope to gain a little more enlightenment on such barriers shortly.

What does seem over the top to me, is for mm/swapfile.c's
blkdev_issue_discard()s to be asking for both BLKDEV_IFL_WAIT and
BLKDEV_IFL_BARRIER: those swap discards were originally written just
to use barriers, without needing to wait for completion in there. I'd
be interested to hear if cutting out the BLKDEV_IFL_WAITs makes the
swap discards behave acceptably again for you - but understand that
you won't have a chance to try that until later next week.

Well, I've just arrived at the hotel, and I want to delay going to bed until a 'proper' hour local time, so I expect I'll do it this evening - especially a one liner like that. Might even give it a go now...

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