[PATCH 0/7] Reduce filesystem writeback from page reclaim v3

From: Mel Gorman
Date: Wed Aug 10 2011 - 06:48:40 EST

Changelog since V2
o Drop patch eliminating all writes from kswapd until such time as
particular pages can be prioritised for writeback. Eliminating
all writes led to stalls on NUMA
o Lumpy synchronous reclaim now waits for pages currently under
writeback but can no longer queue pages itself
o Dropped btrfs warning when filesystems are called from direct
reclaim. The fallback method for migration looks indistinguishable
from direct reclaim.
o Throttle based on pages writeback rather than pages dirty. Throttling
based on just dirty is too aggressive and can end up trying to stall
even when the underlying device is not congested

Changelog since v1
o Drop prio-inode patch. There is now a dependency that the flusher
threads find these dirty pages quickly.
o Drop nr_vmscan_throttled counter
o SetPageReclaim instead of deactivate_page which was wrong
o Add warning to main filesystems if called from direct reclaim context
o Add patch to completely disable filesystem writeback from reclaim

Testing from the XFS folk revealed that there is still too much
I/O from the end of the LRU in kswapd. Previously it was considered
acceptable by VM people for a small number of pages to be written
back from reclaim with testing generally showing about 0.3% of pages
reclaimed were written back (higher if memory was low). That writing
back a small number of pages is ok has been heavily disputed for
quite some time and Dave Chinner explained it well;

It doesn't have to be a very high number to be a problem. IO
is orders of magnitude slower than the CPU time it takes to
flush a page, so the cost of making a bad flush decision is
very high. And single page writeback from the LRU is almost
always a bad flush decision.

To complicate matters, filesystems respond very differently to requests
from reclaim according to Christoph Hellwig;

xfs tries to write it back if the requester is kswapd
ext4 ignores the request if it's a delayed allocation
btrfs ignores the request

As a result, each filesystem has different performance characteristics
when under memory pressure and there are many pages being dirties. In
some cases, the request is ignored entirely so the VM cannot depend
on the IO being dispatched.

The objective of this series is to reduce writing of filesystem-backed
pages from reclaim, play nicely with writeback that is already in
progress and throttle reclaim appropriately when writeback pages are
encountered. The assumption is that the flushers will always write
pages faster than if reclaim issues the IO. The new problem is that
reclaim has very little control over how long before a page in a
particular zone or container is cleaned which is discussed later. A
secondary goal is to avoid the problem whereby direct reclaim splices
two potentially deep call stacks together.

Patch 1 disables writeback of filesystem pages from direct reclaim
entirely. Anonymous pages are still written.

Patch 2 removes dead code in lumpy reclaim as it is no longer able
to synchronously write pages. This hurts lumpy reclaim but
there is an expectation that compaction is used for hugepage
allocations these days and lumpy reclaims days are numbered.

Patches 3-4 add warnings to XFS and ext4 if called from
direct reclaim. With patch 1, this "never happens" and is
intended to catch regressions in this logic in the future.

Patch 5 disables writeback of filesystem pages from kswapd unless
the priority is raised to the point where kswapd is considered
to be in trouble.

Patch 6 throttles reclaimers if too many dirty pages are being
encountered and the zones or backing devices are congested.

Patch 7 invalidates dirty pages found at the end of the LRU so they
are reclaimed quickly after being written back rather than
waiting for a reclaimer to find them

I consider this series to be orthogonal to the writeback work but
it is worth noting that the writeback work affects the viability of
patch 8 in particular.

I tested this on ext4 and xfs using fs_mark, a simple writeback test
based on dd and a micro benchmark that does a streaming write to a
large mapping (exercises use-once LRU logic) followed by streaming
writes to a mix of anonymous and file-backed mappings. The command
line for fs_mark when botted with 512M looked something like

./fs_mark -d /tmp/fsmark-2676 -D 100 -N 150 -n 150 -L 25 -t 1 -S0 -s 10485760

The number of files was adjusted depending on the amount of available
memory so that the files created was about 3xRAM. For multiple threads,
the -d switch is specified multiple times.

The test machine is x86-64 with an older generation of AMD processor
with 4 cores. The underlying storage was 4 disks configured as RAID-0
as this was the best configuration of storage I had available. Swap
is on a separate disk. Dirty ratio was tuned to 40% instead of the
default of 20%.

Testing was run with and without monitors to both verify that the
patches were operating as expected and that any performance gain was
real and not due to interference from monitors.

Here is a summary of results based on testing XFS.

512M1P-xfs Files/s mean 32.69 ( 0.00%) 34.44 ( 5.08%)
512M1P-xfs Elapsed Time fsmark 51.41 48.29
512M1P-xfs Elapsed Time simple-wb 114.09 108.61
512M1P-xfs Elapsed Time mmap-strm 113.46 109.34
512M1P-xfs Kswapd efficiency fsmark 62% 63%
512M1P-xfs Kswapd efficiency simple-wb 56% 61%
512M1P-xfs Kswapd efficiency mmap-strm 44% 42%
512M-xfs Files/s mean 30.78 ( 0.00%) 35.94 (14.36%)
512M-xfs Elapsed Time fsmark 56.08 48.90
512M-xfs Elapsed Time simple-wb 112.22 98.13
512M-xfs Elapsed Time mmap-strm 219.15 196.67
512M-xfs Kswapd efficiency fsmark 54% 56%
512M-xfs Kswapd efficiency simple-wb 54% 55%
512M-xfs Kswapd efficiency mmap-strm 45% 44%
512M-4X-xfs Files/s mean 30.31 ( 0.00%) 33.33 ( 9.06%)
512M-4X-xfs Elapsed Time fsmark 63.26 55.88
512M-4X-xfs Elapsed Time simple-wb 100.90 90.25
512M-4X-xfs Elapsed Time mmap-strm 261.73 255.38
512M-4X-xfs Kswapd efficiency fsmark 49% 50%
512M-4X-xfs Kswapd efficiency simple-wb 54% 56%
512M-4X-xfs Kswapd efficiency mmap-strm 37% 36%
512M-16X-xfs Files/s mean 60.89 ( 0.00%) 65.22 ( 6.64%)
512M-16X-xfs Elapsed Time fsmark 67.47 58.25
512M-16X-xfs Elapsed Time simple-wb 103.22 90.89
512M-16X-xfs Elapsed Time mmap-strm 237.09 198.82
512M-16X-xfs Kswapd efficiency fsmark 45% 46%
512M-16X-xfs Kswapd efficiency simple-wb 53% 55%
512M-16X-xfs Kswapd efficiency mmap-strm 33% 33%

Up until 512-4X, the FSmark improvements were statistically
significant. For the 4X and 16X tests the results were within standard
deviations but just barely. The time to completion for all tests is
improved which is an important result. In general, kswapd efficiency
is not affected by skipping dirty pages.

1024M1P-xfs Files/s mean 39.09 ( 0.00%) 41.15 ( 5.01%)
1024M1P-xfs Elapsed Time fsmark 84.14 80.41
1024M1P-xfs Elapsed Time simple-wb 210.77 184.78
1024M1P-xfs Elapsed Time mmap-strm 162.00 160.34
1024M1P-xfs Kswapd efficiency fsmark 69% 75%
1024M1P-xfs Kswapd efficiency simple-wb 71% 77%
1024M1P-xfs Kswapd efficiency mmap-strm 43% 44%
1024M-xfs Files/s mean 35.45 ( 0.00%) 37.00 ( 4.19%)
1024M-xfs Elapsed Time fsmark 94.59 91.00
1024M-xfs Elapsed Time simple-wb 229.84 195.08
1024M-xfs Elapsed Time mmap-strm 405.38 440.29
1024M-xfs Kswapd efficiency fsmark 79% 71%
1024M-xfs Kswapd efficiency simple-wb 74% 74%
1024M-xfs Kswapd efficiency mmap-strm 39% 42%
1024M-4X-xfs Files/s mean 32.63 ( 0.00%) 35.05 ( 6.90%)
1024M-4X-xfs Elapsed Time fsmark 103.33 97.74
1024M-4X-xfs Elapsed Time simple-wb 204.48 178.57
1024M-4X-xfs Elapsed Time mmap-strm 528.38 511.88
1024M-4X-xfs Kswapd efficiency fsmark 81% 70%
1024M-4X-xfs Kswapd efficiency simple-wb 73% 72%
1024M-4X-xfs Kswapd efficiency mmap-strm 39% 38%
1024M-16X-xfs Files/s mean 42.65 ( 0.00%) 42.97 ( 0.74%)
1024M-16X-xfs Elapsed Time fsmark 103.11 99.11
1024M-16X-xfs Elapsed Time simple-wb 200.83 178.24
1024M-16X-xfs Elapsed Time mmap-strm 397.35 459.82
1024M-16X-xfs Kswapd efficiency fsmark 84% 69%
1024M-16X-xfs Kswapd efficiency simple-wb 74% 73%
1024M-16X-xfs Kswapd efficiency mmap-strm 39% 40%

All FSMark tests up to 16X had statistically significant
improvements. For the most part, tests are completing faster with
the exception of the streaming writes to a mixture of anonymous and
file-backed mappings which were slower in two cases

In the cases where the mmap-strm tests were slower, there was more
swapping due to dirty pages being skipped. The number of additional
pages swapped is almost identical to the fewer number of pages written
from reclaim. In other words, roughly the same number of pages were
reclaimed but swapping was slower. As the test is a bit unrealistic
and stresses memory heavily, the small shift is acceptable.

4608M1P-xfs Files/s mean 29.75 ( 0.00%) 30.96 ( 3.91%)
4608M1P-xfs Elapsed Time fsmark 512.01 492.15
4608M1P-xfs Elapsed Time simple-wb 618.18 566.24
4608M1P-xfs Elapsed Time mmap-strm 488.05 465.07
4608M1P-xfs Kswapd efficiency fsmark 93% 86%
4608M1P-xfs Kswapd efficiency simple-wb 88% 84%
4608M1P-xfs Kswapd efficiency mmap-strm 46% 45%
4608M-xfs Files/s mean 27.60 ( 0.00%) 28.85 ( 4.33%)
4608M-xfs Elapsed Time fsmark 555.96 532.34
4608M-xfs Elapsed Time simple-wb 659.72 571.85
4608M-xfs Elapsed Time mmap-strm 1082.57 1146.38
4608M-xfs Kswapd efficiency fsmark 89% 91%
4608M-xfs Kswapd efficiency simple-wb 88% 82%
4608M-xfs Kswapd efficiency mmap-strm 48% 46%
4608M-4X-xfs Files/s mean 26.00 ( 0.00%) 27.47 ( 5.35%)
4608M-4X-xfs Elapsed Time fsmark 592.91 564.00
4608M-4X-xfs Elapsed Time simple-wb 616.65 575.07
4608M-4X-xfs Elapsed Time mmap-strm 1773.02 1631.53
4608M-4X-xfs Kswapd efficiency fsmark 90% 94%
4608M-4X-xfs Kswapd efficiency simple-wb 87% 82%
4608M-4X-xfs Kswapd efficiency mmap-strm 43% 43%
4608M-16X-xfs Files/s mean 26.07 ( 0.00%) 26.42 ( 1.32%)
4608M-16X-xfs Elapsed Time fsmark 602.69 585.78
4608M-16X-xfs Elapsed Time simple-wb 606.60 573.81
4608M-16X-xfs Elapsed Time mmap-strm 1549.75 1441.86
4608M-16X-xfs Kswapd efficiency fsmark 98% 98%
4608M-16X-xfs Kswapd efficiency simple-wb 88% 82%
4608M-16X-xfs Kswapd efficiency mmap-strm 44% 42%

Unlike the other tests, the fsmark results are not statistically
significant but the min and max times are both improved and for the
most part, tests completed faster.

There are other indications that this is an improvement as well. For
example, in the vast majority of cases, there were fewer pages scanned
by direct reclaim implying in many cases that stalls due to direct
reclaim are reduced. KSwapd is scanning more due to skipping dirty
pages which is unfortunate but the CPU usage is still acceptable

In an earlier set of tests, I used blktrace and in almost all cases
throughput throughout the entire test was higher. However, I ended
up discarding those results as recording blktrace data was too heavy
for my liking.

On a laptop, I plugged in a USB stick and ran a similar tests of tests
using it as backing storage. A desktop environment was running and for
the entire duration of the tests, firefox and gnome terminal were
launching and exiting to vaguely simulate a user.

1024M-xfs Files/s mean 0.41 ( 0.00%) 0.44 ( 6.82%)
1024M-xfs Elapsed Time fsmark 2053.52 1641.03
1024M-xfs Elapsed Time simple-wb 1229.53 768.05
1024M-xfs Elapsed Time mmap-strm 4126.44 4597.03
1024M-xfs Kswapd efficiency fsmark 84% 85%
1024M-xfs Kswapd efficiency simple-wb 92% 81%
1024M-xfs Kswapd efficiency mmap-strm 60% 51%
1024M-xfs Avg wait ms fsmark 5404.53 4473.87
1024M-xfs Avg wait ms simple-wb 2541.35 1453.54
1024M-xfs Avg wait ms mmap-strm 3400.25 3852.53

The mmap-strm results were hurt because firefox launching had
a tendency to push the test out of memory. On the postive side,
firefox launched marginally faster with the patches applied. Time to
completion for many tests was faster but more importantly - the "Avg
wait" time as measured by iostat was far lower implying the system
would be more responsive. It was also the case that "Avg wait ms"
on the root filesystem was lower. I tested it manually and while the
system felt slightly more responsive while copying data to a USB stick,
it was marginal enough that it could be my imagination.

For the most part, this series has a positive impact. Is there anything
else that should be done before I send this to Andrew requested it
be merged?

fs/ext4/inode.c | 6 +++-
fs/xfs/linux-2.6/xfs_aops.c | 7 ++--
include/linux/mmzone.h | 1 +
mm/vmscan.c | 67 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++------------
mm/vmstat.c | 1 +
5 files changed, 58 insertions(+), 24 deletions(-)


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