Re: [RFC/T/D][PATCH 2/2] Linux/Guest cooperative unmapped page cachecontrol

From: Balbir Singh
Date: Mon Jun 14 2010 - 08:50:32 EST

* Avi Kivity <avi@xxxxxxxxxx> [2010-06-14 15:40:28]:

> On 06/14/2010 11:48 AM, Balbir Singh wrote:
> >>>
> >>>In this case the order is as follows
> >>>
> >>>1. First we pick free pages if any
> >>>2. If we don't have free pages, we go after unmapped page cache and
> >>>slab cache
> >>>3. If that fails as well, we go after regularly memory
> >>>
> >>>In the scenario that you describe, we'll not be able to easily free up
> >>>the frequently referenced page from /etc/*. The code will move on to
> >>>step 3 and do its regular reclaim.
> >>Still it seems to me you are subverting the normal order of reclaim.
> >>I don't see why an unmapped page cache or slab cache item should be
> >>evicted before a mapped page. Certainly the cost of rebuilding a
> >>dentry compared to the gain from evicting it, is much higher than
> >>that of reestablishing a mapped page.
> >>
> >Subverting to aviod memory duplication, the word subverting is
> >overloaded,
> Right, should have used a different one.
> >let me try to reason a bit. First let me explain the
> >problem
> >
> >Memory is a precious resource in a consolidated environment.
> >We don't want to waste memory via page cache duplication
> >(cache=writethrough and cache=writeback mode).
> >
> >Now here is what we are trying to do
> >
> >1. A slab page will not be freed until the entire page is free (all
> >slabs have been kfree'd so to speak). Normal reclaim will definitely
> >free this page, but a lot of it depends on how frequently we are
> >scanning the LRU list and when this page got added.
> >2. In the case of page cache (specifically unmapped page cache), there
> >is duplication already, so why not go after unmapped page caches when
> >the system is under memory pressure?
> >
> >In the case of 1, we don't force a dentry to be freed, but rather a
> >freed page in the slab cache to be reclaimed ahead of forcing reclaim
> >of mapped pages.
> Sounds like this should be done unconditionally, then. An empty
> slab page is worth less than an unmapped pagecache page at all
> times, no?

In a consolidated environment, even at the cost of some CPU to run
shrinkers, I think potentially yes.

> >Does the problem statement make sense? If so, do you agree with 1 and
> >2? Is there major concern about subverting regular reclaim? Does
> >subverting it make sense in the duplicated scenario?
> >
> In the case of 2, how do you know there is duplication? You know
> the guest caches the page, but you have no information about the
> host. Since the page is cached in the guest, the host doesn't see
> it referenced, and is likely to drop it.

True, that is why the first patch is controlled via a boot parameter
that the host can pass. For the second patch, I think we'll need
something like a balloon <size> <cache?> with the cache argument being

> If there is no duplication, then you may have dropped a
> recently-used page and will likely cause a major fault soon.

Yes, agreed.

Three Cheers,
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