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How to pre-allocate files for sequential access?

To: xfs@xxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: How to pre-allocate files for sequential access?
From: troby <Thorn.Roby@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2012 16:57:54 -0700 (PDT)
I am trying to set up a 20 TB filesystem which will contain a single
directory with 10000 pre-allocated 2GB files. There will be only a small
number of other directories with very little activity. Once the files are
preallocated there will be almost no new file creation. The files will be
written sequentially, typically with writes of about 120KB, and will not be
updated until the filesystem fills, at which point the earliest files will
start to be overwritten (not deleted). There will be relatively little read
activity. There will be a single writer process using a single thread. The
filesystem application is MongoDB. I am trying to minimize seek activity
during the write process, and would also like to have contiguous file
allocation since the database queries will be retrieving records from a
sequentially-related set of files.
The filesystem as currently created looks like this:

meta-data=/dev/sdb1              isize=256    agcount=20, agsize=268435448
blks
         =                       sectsz=512   attr=2
data     =                       bsize=4096   blocks=5127012091, imaxpct=1
         =                       sunit=8      swidth=56 blks
naming   =version 2              bsize=4096   ascii-ci=0
log      =internal               bsize=4096   blocks=521728, version=2
         =                       sectsz=512   sunit=8 blks, lazy-count=1
realtime =none                   extsz=4096   blocks=0, rtextents=0

However what I see is that the earliest created files start about 5TB into
the filesystem. The files are not being created in contiguous block ranges.
Here is an xfs_bmap example of three files created in sequence:
0: [0..4192255]: 24075083136..24079275391
0: [0..4192255]: 26222566720..26226758975
0: [0..4192255]: 28370050304..28374242559

Currently a process is doing continuous data inserts into the database, and
is writing sequential segments within the files, filling a file in about 6
minutes, and moving on to the next. There is also a small amount of write
activity to a single file containing database metadata which is located
about 5TB into the filesystem. The database index files are located on a
separate disk. 

Using seekwatcher I've determined that the actual I/O pattern, even when a
small number of files is being written to, is spread over a fairly wide
range of filesystem offsets, resulting in about 250 seeks per second. I
don't know how to determine how long the seeks are. (I tried to upload the
seekwatcher image but apparently that's not allowed). Seekwatcher shows the
I/O activity is in a range between 15 and 17 TB into the filesystem. During
this time there was a set of about 4 files being actively written as far as
I know.

I'm guessing that the use of multiple allocation groups may explain the
non-contiguous block allocation, although I read at one point that even with
multiple allocation groups, files within a single directory would use the
same group. I don't believe I need multiple allocation groups for this
application due to the single writer and the fact that all files will be
preallocated before use. Would it be reasonable to force mkfs to use a
single 20TB allocation group, and would this be likely to produce contiguous
block allocation?

This is kernel 3.0.25 using xfsprogs 3.1.1.


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