Re: [patch 0/5] optionally sync per-CPU vmstats counter on return to userspace

From: Marcelo Tosatti
Date: Tue Jul 06 2021 - 10:37:01 EST

On Tue, Jul 06, 2021 at 03:09:25PM +0200, Frederic Weisbecker wrote:
> On Fri, Jul 02, 2021 at 12:28:16PM -0300, Marcelo Tosatti wrote:
> >
> > Hi Frederic,
> >
> > On Fri, Jul 02, 2021 at 02:30:32PM +0200, Frederic Weisbecker wrote:
> > > On Thu, Jul 01, 2021 at 06:03:36PM -0300, Marcelo Tosatti wrote:
> > > > The logic to disable vmstat worker thread, when entering
> > > > nohz full, does not cover all scenarios. For example, it is possible
> > > > for the following to happen:
> > > >
> > > > 1) enter nohz_full, which calls refresh_cpu_vm_stats, syncing the stats.
> > > > 2) app runs mlock, which increases counters for mlock'ed pages.
> > > > 3) start -RT loop
> > > >
> > > > Since refresh_cpu_vm_stats from nohz_full logic can happen _before_
> > > > the mlock, vmstat shepherd can restart vmstat worker thread on
> > > > the CPU in question.
> > > >
> > > > To fix this, optionally sync the vmstat counters when returning
> > > > from userspace, controllable by a new "vmstat_sync" isolcpus
> > > > flags (default off).
> > >
> > > Wasn't the plan for such finegrained isolation features to do it at
> > > the per task level using prctl()?
> >
> > Yes, but its orthogonal: when we integrate the finegrained isolation
> > interface, will be able to use this code (to sync vmstat counters
> > on return to userspace) only when userspace informs that it has entered
> > isolated mode, so you don't incur the performance penalty of frequent
> > vmstat counter writes when not using isolated apps.
> >
> > This is what the full task isolation task patchset mode is doing
> > as well (CC'ing Alex BTW).
> Right there can be two ways:

* An isolcpus flag to request sync of vmstat on all exits
to userspace.
> * A prctl request to sync vmstat only on exit from that prctl
> * A prctl request to sync vmstat on all subsequent exit from
> kernel space.

* A prctl to expose "vmstat is out of sync" information
to userspace, so that it can be queried and flushed
(Christoph's suggestion:

> > This will require modifying applications (and the new kernel with the
> > exposed interface).
> >
> > But there is demand for fixing this now, for currently existing
> > binary only applications.
> I would agree if it were a regression but it's not. It's merely
> a new feature and we don't want to rush on a broken interface.

Well, people out there need it in some form (vmstat sync).
Can we please agree on an acceptable way to allow this.

Why its a broken interface? It has good qualities IMO:

- Its well contained (if you don't need, don't use it).
- Does not require modifying -RT applications.
- Works well for a set of applications (where the overhead of
syncing vmstat is largely irrelevant, but the vmstat_worker
interruption is).

And its patchset integrates part another piece of full task isolation.

> And I suspect some other people won't like much a new extension
> to isolcpus.

Why is that so?


Regarding the prctl interface: The suggestion to allow
system calls (
conflicts with "full task isolation": when entering the kernel,
one might be target of an interruption (for example a TLB flush).

Thomas wrote on that thread:

"So you say some code can tolerate a few interrupts, then comes Alex and
says 'no disturbance' at all.

The point is that all of this shares the mechanisms to quiesce certain
parts of the kernel so this wants to build common infrastructure and the
prctl(ISOLATION, MODE) mode argument defines the scope of isolation
which the task asks for and the infrastructure decides whether it can be
granted and if so orchestrates the operation and provides a common
infrastructure for instrumentation, violation monitoring etc.

We really need to stop to look at particular workloads and defining
adhoc solutions tailored to their particular itch if we don't want to
end up with an uncoordinated and unmaintainable zoo of interfaces, hooks
and knobs.

Just looking at the problem at hand as an example. NOHZ already issues
quiet_vmstat(), but it does not cancel already scheduled work. Now
Marcelo wants a new mechanism which is supposed to cancel the work and
then Alex want's to prevent it from being rescheduled. If that's not
properly coordinated this goes down the drain very fast."

Not allowing the vmstat_sync to happen for unmodified applications seems
undesired, as Matthew Wilcox mentioned:

From: Matthew Wilcox <willy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

"Subject: Re: [PATCH] mm: introduce sysctl file to flush per-cpu vmstat statistics

On Tue, Nov 17, 2020 at 01:28:06PM -0300, Marcelo Tosatti wrote:
> For isolated applications that busy loop (packet processing with DPDK,
> for example), workqueue functions either stall (if the -rt app priority
> is higher than kworker thread priority) or interrupt the -rt app
> (if the -rt app priority is lower than kworker thread priority.

This seems a bit obscure to expect an application to do. Can we make
this happen automatically when we bind an rt task to a group of CPUs?"

It turns out that is what would make most sense in the field.

And even if a prctl interface is added, a mode where the "flushing of
pending activities" happens automatically on return to userspace
would be desired (to allow unmodified applications to take benefit
of the decreased interruptions by the OS).

So the isolcpus flag is a way to enable/disable this feature.
prctl interface would be another.

Would you prefer a more generic "quiesce OS activities on return
from system calls" type of flag?