Re: [PATCH v6 0/7] vfs: Non-blockling buffered fs read (page cache only)

From: Milosz Tanski
Date: Wed Dec 03 2014 - 11:48:37 EST

On Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 5:42 PM, Andrew Morton <akpm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> On Tue, 2 Dec 2014 17:17:42 -0500 Milosz Tanski <milosz@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > > There have been several incomplete attempts to implement fincore(). If
> > > we were to complete those attempts, preadv2() could be implemented
> > > using fincore()+pread(). Plus we get fincore(), which is useful for
> > > other (but probably similar) reasons. Probably fincore()+pwrite() could
> > > be used to implement pwritev2(), but I don't know what pwritev2() does
> > > yet.
> > >
> > > Implementing fincore() is more flexible, requires less code and is less
> > > likely to have bugs. So why not go that way? Yes, it's more CPU
> > > intensive, but how much? Is the difference sufficient to justify the
> > > preadv2()/pwritev2() approach?
> >
> > I would like to see a fincore() functionality (for other reasons) I
> > don't think it does the job here. fincore() + preadv() is inherently
> > racy as there's no guarantee that the data becomes uncached between
> > the two calls.
> There will always be holes. For example find_get_page() could block on
> lock_page() while some other process is doing IO.
> page_cache_async_readahead() does lots of memory allocation which can
> get blocked for long periods in the page allocator.
> page_cache_async_readahead() can block on synchronous metadata reads,
> etc.

Andrew I think it would helpful if you did read through the patches.
The first 3 are somewhat uninteresting as it's just wiring up the new
syscalls and plumbing the flag argument through. The core of the
RWF_NONBLOCK is patch 4: and if
you strip away the fs specific changes the core of it is very simple.

The core is mostly contained in do_generic_file_read() in filemap.c,
and is very short and easy to understand. It boils down to we read as
much data as we can given what's in the page cache. There's no
fallback to diskio for readpage() in case of missing pages and we bail
before any calls to page_cache_async_readahead(). And to the best of
my knowledge lock_page() does not lock the page, all it does is call
pagecache_get_page() without the FGP_LOCK flag.

I've spent time a decent amount of time looking at this to make sure
we cover all our major bases. It's possible I missed something but the
biggest offenders should be covered and if I missed something I'd love
to cover that as well.

> The question is whether a simpler approach such as fincore() will be
> sufficient.
> > This may not matter in some cases, but in others (ones
> > that I'm trying to solve) it will introduce unexpected latency.
> Details?

Please read my points below and

> > There's no overlap between prwritev2 and fincore() functionality.
> Do we actually need pwritev2()? What's the justification for that?

I'm okay with splitting up the pwritev2 and preadv2 into two
independent patchsets to be considered on their own merits.

> Please let's examine the alternative(s) seriously. It would be mistake
> to add preadv2/pwritev2 if fincore+pread would have sufficed.

What the motivation for my change and also approach is a very common
pattern to async buffered disk IO in userspace server applications. It
comes down to having one thread to handle the network and a thread
pool to perform IO requests. Why a threadpool and not something like a
sendfile() for reads? Many non-trivial applications perform additional
processing (ssl, checksuming, transformation). Unfortunately this has
a inherent increase in average latency due to increased
synchronization penalties (enqueue and notify) but primarily due to
fast requests (already in cache) behind stuck behind slow request.

Here's the illustration of the common architecture: In fact, most apps are even simpler
where they replace the request queue, task worker with a single thread
doing network IO using epoll or such.

preadv2 with RWF_NONBLOCK is analogous to the kernel recvmsg() with
the MSG_NOWAIT flag. It's really frustrating that such capacity
doesn't exist today. As with the user space application design we can
skip the io threadpool and decrease average request latency in many
common workloads (linear reads or zipf data accesses).

preadv2 with RWF_NONBLOCK as implemented does not suffer the same
eviction races as fincore + pread because it's not implemented as two
syscalls. It also has a much lower surface of possible blocking /
locking then fincore + pread because it cannot fallback to reading
from disk, it does not trigger read-ahead, and does not wait for page

Milosz Tanski
16 East 34th Street, 15th floor
New York, NY 10016

p: 646-253-9055
e: milosz@xxxxxxxxx
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