Re: [patch] SLQB slab allocator

From: Nick Piggin
Date: Thu Jan 22 2009 - 23:18:15 EST

On Wed, Jan 21, 2009 at 07:19:08PM -0500, Christoph Lameter wrote:
> On Mon, 19 Jan 2009, Nick Piggin wrote:
> > The thing IMO you forget with all these doomsday scenarios about SGI's peta
> > scale systems is that no matter what you do, you can't avoid the fact that
> > computing is about locality. Even if you totally take the TLB out of the
> > equation, you still have the small detail of other caches. Code that jumps
> > all over that 1024 TB of memory with no locality is going to suck regardless
> > of what the kernel ever does, due to physical limitations of hardware.
> Typically we traverse lists of objects that are in the same slab cache.

Very often that is not the case. And the price you pay for that is that
you have to drain and switch freelists whenever you encounter an object
that is not on the same page.

This gives your freelists a chaotic and unpredictable behaviour IMO in
a running system where pages succumb to fragmentation so your freelist
maximum sizes are limited. It also means you can lose track of cache
hot objects when you switch to different "fast" pages. I don't consider
this to be "queueing done right".

> > > Sorry not at all. SLAB and SLQB queue objects from different pages in the
> > > same queue.
> >
> > The last sentence is what I was replying to. Ie. "simplification of
> > numa handling" does not follow from the SLUB implementation of per-page
> > freelists.
> If all objects are from the same page then you need not check
> the NUMA locality of any object on that queue.

In SLAB and SLQB, all objects on the freelist are on the same node. So
tell me how does same-page objects simplify numa handling?

> > > As I sad it pins a single page in the per cpu page and uses that in a way
> > > that you call a queue and I call a freelist.
> >
> > And you found you have to increase the size of your pages because you
> > need bigger queues. (must we argue semantics? it is a list of free
> > objects)
> Right. That may be the case and its a similar tuning to what SLAB does.

SLAB and SLQB doesn't need bigger pages to do that.

> > > SLAB and SLUB can have large quantities of objects in their queues that
> > > each can keep a single page out of circulation if its the last
> > > object in that page. This is per queue thing and you have at least two
> >
> > And if that were a problem, SLQB can easily be runtime tuned to keep no
> > objects in its object lists. But as I said, queueing is good, so why
> > would anybody want to get rid of it?
> Queing is sometimes good....
> > Again, this doesn't really go anywhere while we disagree on the
> > fundamental goodliness of queueing. This is just describing the
> > implementation.
> I am not sure that you understand the fine points of queuing in slub. I am
> not a fundamentalist: Queues are good if used the right way and as you say
> SLUB has "queues" designed in a particular fashion that solves issus that
> we had with SLAB queues.

OK, and I juts don't think they solved all the problems and they added
other worse ones. And if you would tell me what the problems are and
how to reproduce them (or point to someone who might be able to help
with reproducing them), then I'm confident that I can solve those problems
in SLQB, which has fewer downsides than SLUB. At least I will try my best.

So can you please give a better idea of the problems? "latency sensitive
HPC applications" is about as much help to me solving that as telling
you that "OLTP applications slow down" helps solve one of the problems in

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