[PATCH] writeback: Fix performance regression in wb_over_bg_thresh()

From: Howard Cochran
Date: Thu Mar 10 2016 - 01:14:58 EST

Commit 947e9762a8dd ("writeback: update wb_over_bg_thresh() to use
wb_domain aware operations") unintentionally changed this function's
meaning from "are there more dirty pages than the background writeback
threshold" to "are there more dirty pages than the writeback threshold".
The background writeback threshold is typically half of the writeback
threshold, so this had the effect of raising the number of dirty pages
required to cause a writeback worker to perform background writeout.

This can cause a very severe performance regression when a BDI uses
BDI_CAP_STRICTLIMIT because balance_dirty_pages() and the writeback worker
can now disagree on whether writeback should be initiated.

For example, in a system having 1GB of RAM, a single spinning disk, and
a "pass-through" FUSE filesystem mounted over the disk, application code
mmapped a 128MB file on the disk and was randomly dirtying pages in that

Because FUSE uses strictlimit and has a default max_ratio of only 1%,
in balance_dirty_pages, thresh is ~200, bg_thresh is ~100, and the
dirty_freerun_ceiling is the average of those, ~150. So, it pauses the
dirtying processes when we have 151 dirty pages and wakes up a
background writeback worker. But the worker tests the wrong threshold
(200 instead of 100), so it does not initiate writeback and just

Thus, balance_dirty_pages keeps looping, sleeping and then waking up the
worker who will do nothing. It remains stuck in this state until the few
dirty pages that we have finally expire and we write them back for that
reason. Then the whole process repeats, resulting in near-zero
throughput through the FUSE BDI.

The fix is to call the parameterized variant of wb_calc_thresh, so that
the worker will do writeback if the bg_thresh is exceeded which was the
bahavior before the referenced commit.

Fixes: 947e9762a8dd ("writeback: update wb_over_bg_thresh() to use
wb_domain aware operations")
Signed-off-by: Howard Cochran <hcochran@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: Tejun Heo <tj@xxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: Jens Axboe <axboe@xxxxxxxxx>
mm/page-writeback.c | 6 ++++--
1 file changed, 4 insertions(+), 2 deletions(-)

diff --git a/mm/page-writeback.c b/mm/page-writeback.c
index 6fe7d15..62bbf35 100644
--- a/mm/page-writeback.c
+++ b/mm/page-writeback.c
@@ -1909,7 +1909,8 @@ bool wb_over_bg_thresh(struct bdi_writeback *wb)
if (gdtc->dirty > gdtc->bg_thresh)
return true;

- if (wb_stat(wb, WB_RECLAIMABLE) > __wb_calc_thresh(gdtc))
+ if (wb_stat(wb, WB_RECLAIMABLE) >
+ wb_calc_thresh(gdtc->wb, gdtc->bg_thresh))
return true;

if (mdtc) {
@@ -1923,7 +1924,8 @@ bool wb_over_bg_thresh(struct bdi_writeback *wb)
if (mdtc->dirty > mdtc->bg_thresh)
return true;

- if (wb_stat(wb, WB_RECLAIMABLE) > __wb_calc_thresh(mdtc))
+ if (wb_stat(wb, WB_RECLAIMABLE) >
+ wb_calc_thresh(mdtc->wb, mdtc->bg_thresh))
return true;