Re: [PATCH 2/2] mm: vmscan: If kswapd has been running too long,allow it to sleep

From: James Bottomley
Date: Tue May 17 2011 - 02:37:19 EST

On Mon, 2011-05-16 at 14:16 -0700, Andrew Morton wrote:
> On Mon, 16 May 2011 16:06:57 +0100
> Mel Gorman <mgorman@xxxxxxx> wrote:
> > Under constant allocation pressure, kswapd can be in the situation where
> > sleeping_prematurely() will always return true even if kswapd has been
> > running a long time. Check if kswapd needs to be scheduled.
> >
> > Signed-off-by: Mel Gorman <mgorman@xxxxxxx>
> > Acked-by: Rik van Riel <riel@xxxxxxxxxx>
> > ---
> > mm/vmscan.c | 4 ++++
> > 1 files changed, 4 insertions(+), 0 deletions(-)
> >
> > diff --git a/mm/vmscan.c b/mm/vmscan.c
> > index af24d1e..4d24828 100644
> > --- a/mm/vmscan.c
> > +++ b/mm/vmscan.c
> > @@ -2251,6 +2251,10 @@ static bool sleeping_prematurely(pg_data_t *pgdat, int order, long remaining,
> > unsigned long balanced = 0;
> > bool all_zones_ok = true;
> >
> > + /* If kswapd has been running too long, just sleep */
> > + if (need_resched())
> > + return false;
> > +
> > /* If a direct reclaimer woke kswapd within HZ/10, it's premature */
> > if (remaining)
> > return true;
> I'm a bit worried by this one.
> Do we really fully understand why kswapd is continuously running like
> this? The changelog makes me think "no" ;)
> Given that the page-allocating process is madly reclaiming pages in
> direct reclaim (yes?) and that kswapd is madly reclaiming pages on a
> different CPU, we should pretty promptly get into a situation where
> kswapd can suspend itself. But that obviously isn't happening. So
> what *is* going on?

The triggering workload is a massive untar using a file on the same
filesystem, so that's a continuous stream of pages read into the cache
for the input and a stream of dirty pages out for the writes. We
thought it might have been out of control shrinkers, so we already
debugged that and found it wasn't. It just seems to be an imbalance in
the zones that the shrinkers can't fix which causes
sleeping_prematurely() to return true almost indefinitely.

> Secondly, taking an up-to-100ms sleep in response to a need_resched()
> seems pretty savage and I suspect it risks undesirable side-effects. A
> plain old cond_resched() would be more cautious. But presumably
> kswapd() is already running cond_resched() pretty frequently, so why
> didn't that work?

So the specific problem with cond_resched() is that kswapd is still
runnable, so even if there's other work the system can be getting on
with, it quickly comes back to looping madly in kswapd. If we return
false from sleeping_prematurely(), we stop kswapd until its woken up to
do more work. This manifests, even on non sandybridge systems that
don't hang as a lot of time burned in kswapd.

I think the sandybridge bug I see on the laptop is that cond_resched()
is somehow ineffective: kswapd is usually hogging one CPU and there are
runnable processes but they seem to cluster on other CPUs, leaving
kswapd to spin at close to 100% system time.

When the problem was first described, we tried sprinkling more
cond_rescheds() in the shrinker loop and it didn't work.


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