Re: [PATCH 0/4] (RESEND) ext3[34] barrier changes

From: Ric Wheeler
Date: Sun May 18 2008 - 14:59:07 EST

Theodore Tso wrote:
On Sat, May 17, 2008 at 08:48:33PM -0400, Chris Mason wrote:
Well, the barriers happen like so (even if we actually only do one
barrier in submit_bh, it turns into two)

write log blocks
flush #1
write commit block
flush #2
write metadata blocks

I'd agree with Ted, there's a fairly small chance of things get reordered around flush #1. flush #2 is likely to have lots of reordering though. It should be easy to create situations where the metadata for a transaction is written before the log blocks ever see the disk.

True, but even with a very heavy fsync() workload, a commit doesn't
cause the metadata blocks to be written until we have to do a journal
truncate operation. A heavy fsync() workload would increase how
quickly we would use up the journal and need to do a journal truncate,

EMC did a ton of automated testing around this when Jens and I did
the initial barrier implementations, and they were able to trigger
corruptions in fsync heavy workloads with randomized power offs.
I'll dig up the workload they used.

I could imagine a mode which forces a barrier operation for commits
triggered by fsync()'s, but not commits that occur due to a natural
closing of transactions. I'm not sure it's worth it, though, since
many of the benchmarks that we care about (like Postmark) do use
fsync() fairly heavily.

The really annoying thing is that what is really needed is a way to
make write barriers cheaper; we don't need to do a synchronous flush,
but unfortunately for most drives there isn't any other way of keeping
disk writes from getting reordered.

The workload we used was to run our existing Centera application on a rack of boxes. The application is a bit special in that it does a digital signature on each file and never returns success for the client until an fsync is done on the server (kind of like synchronous NFS).

What we did for our test was to pound away on a rack of these boxes (say 32 boxes, each with 4 large ATA or S-ATA drives) and then drop power to the whole rack.

All of our data file systems were reiserfs, some of the system partitions were ext2.

The test would be marked as passed if we could reboot all of the boxes and have the client validate that the digital signature of all files written and ack'ed were valid. We also looked for issues seen during the reboot (fsck grumbles, corrupted directories, etc).

I didn't run the tests personally, but seem to recall that without barriers we routinely saw file system corruption on that reboot.

The hard thing is to figure out how to test this kind of scenario without dropping power. To expose the failure mode, it might be sufficient to drop power to a drive with smartctl (or, if you have hot swap bays, just pull them).

Just a personal note, my last day at EMC was this past Friday. Monday, I start working for Red Hat (focused on file systems) so I will have to figure out to get this kind of test going without all of my big EMC toys ;-)


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