Re: [PATCH v11 4/6] mm: function to offer a page block on the free list

From: David Hildenbrand
Date: Tue Jun 20 2017 - 14:54:50 EST

On 20.06.2017 20:17, Michael S. Tsirkin wrote:
> On Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 06:49:33PM +0200, David Hildenbrand wrote:
>> On 20.06.2017 18:44, Rik van Riel wrote:
>>> On Mon, 2017-06-12 at 07:10 -0700, Dave Hansen wrote:
>>>> The hypervisor is going to throw away the contents of these pages,
>>>> right? As soon as the spinlock is released, someone can allocate a
>>>> page, and put good data in it. What keeps the hypervisor from
>>>> throwing
>>>> away good data?
>>> That looks like it may be the wrong API, then?
>>> We already have hooks called arch_free_page and
>>> arch_alloc_page in the VM, which are called when
>>> pages are freed, and allocated, respectively.
>>> Nitesh Lal (on the CC list) is working on a way
>>> to efficiently batch recently freed pages for
>>> free page hinting to the hypervisor.
>>> If that is done efficiently enough (eg. with
>>> MADV_FREE on the hypervisor side for lazy freeing,
>>> and lazy later re-use of the pages), do we still
>>> need the harder to use batch interface from this
>>> patch?
>> David's opinion incoming:
>> No, I think proper free page hinting would be the optimum solution, if
>> done right. This would avoid the batch interface and even turn
>> virtio-balloon in some sense useless.
> I agree generally. But we have to balance that against the fact that
> this was discussed since at least 2011 and no one built this solution
> yet.

I totally agree, and I still think it will be hard to get a decent
performance for free page hinting (let's call it challenging). But I
heard of some interesting ideas. Surprise me.

Still, I would favor such an interface over a mm interface where people
start asking the same question over and over again ("how can this even
work"). Not only because it wasn't explained sufficiently enough, but
also because this interface is so special for one use case and one
scenario (concurrent dirty tracking in the host during migration).

IMHO even simply writing all-zeros to all free pages before starting
migration (or even when freeing a page) would be a cleaner interface
than this (because it atomically works with the entity the host cares
about for migration). But yes, performance is horrible that's why I am
not even suggesting it. Just saying that this mm interface is very very
special and if we could find something better, I'd favor it.