[rfc] Describe events in a structured way via sysfs

From: Ingo Molnar
Date: Fri May 21 2010 - 05:41:40 EST

* Peter Zijlstra <peterz@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> On Thu, 2010-05-20 at 16:12 -0700, Greg KH wrote:

> > How deep in the device tree are you really going to be
> > caring about? It sounds like the large majority of
> > events are only going to be coming from the "system"
> > type objects (cpu, nodes, memory, etc.) and very few
> > would be from things that we consider a 'struct
> > device' today (like a pci, usb, scsi, or input, etc.)
> The general noise I hear from the hardware people is
> that we'll see more and more device-level stuff - bus
> bridges/controller and actual devices (GPUs, NICs etc.)
> will be wanting to export performance metrics.

There's (much) more:

- laptops want to provide power level/usage metrics,

- we could express a lot of special, lower level
(transport specific) disk IO stats via events as well -
without having to push those stats to a higher level
(where it might not make sense). Currently such kinds
of stats/metrics are very device/subsystem specific
way, if they are provided at all.

Also, we already have quite a few per device tracepoints
upstream. Here are a few examples:

- GPU tracepoints (trace_i915_gem_request_submit(), etc.)
- WIFI tracepoints (trace_iwlwifi_dev_ioread32(), etc.)
- block tracepoints (trace_block_bio_complete())

So these would be attached to:

# GEM events of drm/card0:

# Wifi-ioread events of wlan0:

# whole sdb disk events:

# sdb1 partition events:

And we also have 'software nodes' in /sys that have events
upstream here and today. For example for SLAB we already
have kmalloc/kfree tracepoints (trace_kmalloc() and

# all kmalloc events:

# kmalloc events for sighand_cache:

# kfree events for sighand_cache:

In general the set of events we have upstream is growing
along an exponential curve (there's over a hundred now,
via tracepoints).

They are either logically attached to the hardware
topology of the system (as in the first set of examples
above), or ae attached to the software/subsystem object
topology of the kernel (some examples of which are
described in the second set of examples above).

Sometimes there are aliasing/filtering relationship
between events, which is expressed very well via the
hierarchy and granularity of /sysfs.

New events would go into that topology there in a natural

For example general hugepage tracepoints (should we
introduce any) would go into the existing hugepage node:


All in one, all these existing and future events, both of
hardware and software type, are literally begging to be
attached to nodes in /sys :-)

If we created a separate eventfs for it we'd have to start
with duplicating all the topology/hiearchy/structure that
is present in sysfs already. (and dilluting /sys's

That would be a bad thing, so it would be nice if we found
a workable solution here. We could split up the record
format some more:


Into single-value files. But this would add significant
parsing overhead (plus significant allocation overhead),
for no tangible benefit.

The problem with /proc was always the lack of standard
structure and the lack of performance - while the format
file is about _more_ structure.

Increasing structure parsing overhead does not look like
the right answer to that problem.


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