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Re: [PATCH 17/19] drivers: convert shrinkers to new count/scan API

To: Chris Wilson <chris@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: [PATCH 17/19] drivers: convert shrinkers to new count/scan API
From: Dave Chinner <david@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2012 14:17:19 +1100
Cc: glommer@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, linux-kernel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, linux-fsdevel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, linux-mm@xxxxxxxxx, xfs@xxxxxxxxxxx
In-reply-to: <b94cdc$7i2bv3@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
References: <1354058086-27937-1-git-send-email-david@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> <1354058086-27937-18-git-send-email-david@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> <b94cdc$7i2bv3@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.21 (2010-09-15)
On Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 01:13:11AM +0000, Chris Wilson wrote:
> On Wed, 28 Nov 2012 10:14:44 +1100, Dave Chinner <david@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > +/*
> > + * XXX: (dchinner) This is one of the worst cases of shrinker abuse I've 
> > seen.
> > + *
> > + * i915_gem_purge() expects a byte count to be passed, and the minimum 
> > object
> > + * size is PAGE_SIZE.
> No, purge() expects a count of pages to be freed. Each pass of the
> shrinker therefore tries to free a minimum of 128 pages.

Ah, I got the shifts mixed up. I'd been looking at way too much crap
already when I saw this. But the fact this can be misunderstood says
something about the level of documentation that the code has (i.e.

> > The shrinker doesn't work on bytes - it works on
> > + * *objects*.
> And I thought you were reviewing the shrinker API to be useful where a
> single object may range between 4K and 4G.

Which requires rewriting all the algorithms to not be dependent on
the subsystems using a fixed size object. The shrinker control
function is called shrink_slab() for a reason - it was expected to
be used to shrink caches of fixed sized objects allocated from slab

It has no concept of the amount of memory that each object consumes,
just an idea of how much *IO* it takes to replace the object in
memory once it's been reclaimed. The DEFAULT_SEEKS is design to
encode the fact it generally takes 2 IOs to replace either a LRU
page or a filesystem slab object, and so balances the scanning based
on that value. i.e. the shrinker algorithms are solidly based around
fixed sized objects that have some relationship to the cost of
physical IO operations to replace them in the cache.

The API change is the first step in the path to removing these built
in assumptions. The current API is just insane and any attempt to
build on it is going to be futile. The way I see this developing is

        - make the shrink_slab count -> scan algorithm per node

        - add information about size of objects in the cache for
          fixed size object caches.
                - the shrinker now has some idea of how many objects
                  need to be freed to be able to free a page of
                  memory, as well as the relative penalty for
                  replacing them.
                - tells the shrinker the size of the cache
                  in bytes so overall memory footprint of the caches
                  can be taken into account

        - add new count and scan operations for caches that are
          based on memory used, not object counts
                - allows us to use the same count/scan algorithm for
                  calculating how much pressure to put on caches
                  with variable size objects.

My care factor mostly ends here, as it will allow XFS to corectly
balance the metadata buffer cache (variable size objects) against the
inode, dentry and dquot caches which are object based. The next
steps that I'm about to give you are based on some discussions with
some MM people over bottles of red wine, so take it with a grain of

        - calculate a "pressure" value for each cache controlled by a
          shrinker so that the relative memory pressure between
          caches can be compared. This allows the shrinkers to bias
          reclaim based on where the memory pressure is being

        - start grouping shrinkers into a heirarchy, allowing
          related shrinkers (e.g. all the caches in a memcg) to be
          shrunk according resource limits that can be placed on the
          group. i.e. memory pressure is proportioned across
          groups rather than many individual shrinkers.

        - comments have been made to the extent that with generic
          per-node lists and a node aware shrinker, all of the page
          scanning could be driven by the shrinker infrastructure,
          rather than the shrinkers being driven by how many pages
          in the page cache just got scanned for reclaim.

          IOWs, the main memory reclaim algorithm walks all the
          shrinkers groups to calculate overall memory pressure,
          calculate how much reclaim is necessary, and then
          proportion reclaim across all the shrinker groups. i.e.
          everything is a shrinker.

This patch set is really just the start of a long process. balance
between the page cache and VFS/filesystem shrinkers is critical to
the efficient operation of the OS under many, many workloads, so I'm
not about to change more than oe little thing at a time. This API
change is just one little step. You'll get what you want eventually,
but you're not going to get it as a first step.

> > + * But the craziest part comes when i915_gem_purge() has walked all the 
> > objects
> > + * and can't free any memory. That results in i915_gem_shrink_all() being
> > + * called, which idles the GPU and frees everything the driver has in it's
> > + * active and inactive lists. It's basically hitting the driver with a 
> > great big
> > + * hammer because it was busy doing stuff when something else generated 
> > memory
> > + * pressure. This doesn't seem particularly wise...
> > + */
> As opposed to triggering an OOM? The choice was between custom code for
> a hopefully rare code path in a situation of last resort, or first
> implementing the simplest code that stopped i915 from starving the
> system of memory.

And when it's something else that is causing the memory pressue?
The shrinker gets called whenever somethign runs low on memory - it
might be called thousands of times a second so there's a very good
chance you have very little to free after the first purge has
occurred. After than you're going to idle the GPU and purge all the
memory on every single shrinker call, even though the GPU is not
generating memory pressure and not causing the shrinkers to run.
That's why it's crazy - it's got close to worst case behaviour when
the GPU is already using as little memory as possible.


Dave Chinner

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