[PATCH 00/15] Swap-over-NBD without deadlocking V8

From: Mel Gorman
Date: Mon Feb 06 2012 - 18:06:20 EST

Changelog since V7
o Rebase to 3.3-rc2
o Take greater care propagating page->pfmemalloc to skb
o Propagate pfmemalloc from netdev_alloc_page to skb where possible
o Release RCU lock properly on preempt kernel

Changelog since V6
o Rebase to 3.1-rc8
o Use wake_up instead of wake_up_interruptible()
o Do not throttle kernel threads
o Avoid a potential race between kswapd going to sleep and processes being

Changelog since V5
o Rebase to 3.1-rc5

Changelog since V4
o Update comment clarifying what protocols can be used (Michal)
o Rebase to 3.0-rc3

Changelog since V3
o Propogate pfmemalloc from packet fragment pages to skb (Neil)
o Rebase to 3.0-rc2

Changelog since V2
o Document that __GFP_NOMEMALLOC overrides __GFP_MEMALLOC (Neil)
o Use wait_event_interruptible (Neil)
o Use !! when casting to bool to avoid any possibilitity of type
truncation (Neil)
o Nicer logic when using skb_pfmemalloc_protocol (Neil)

Changelog since V1
o Rebase on top of mmotm
o Use atomic_t for memalloc_socks (David Miller)
o Remove use of sk_memalloc_socks in vmscan (Neil Brown)
o Check throttle within prepare_to_wait (Neil Brown)
o Add statistics on throttling instead of printk

When a user or administrator requires swap for their application, they
create a swap partition and file, format it with mkswap and activate it
with swapon. Swap over the network is considered as an option in diskless
systems. The two likely scenarios are when blade servers are used as part
of a cluster where the form factor or maintenance costs do not allow the
use of disks and thin clients.

The Linux Terminal Server Project recommends the use of the
Network Block Device (NBD) for swap according to the manual at
There is also documentation and tutorials on how to setup swap over NBD
at places like https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuLTSP/EnableNBDSWAP
The nbd-client also documents the use of NBD as swap. Despite this, the
fact is that a machine using NBD for swap can deadlock within minutes if
swap is used intensively. This patch series addresses the problem.

The core issue is that network block devices do not use mempools like normal
block devices do. As the host cannot control where they receive packets from,
they cannot reliably work out in advance how much memory they might need.

Some years ago, Peter Ziljstra developed a series of patches that supported
swap over an NFS that some distributions are carrying in their kernels. This
patch series borrows very heavily from Peter's work to support swapping
over NBD as a pre-requisite to supporting swap-over-NFS. The bulk of the
complexity is concerned with preserving memory that is allocated from the
PFMEMALLOC reserves for use by the network layer which is needed for both
NBD and NFS.

Patch 1 serialises access to min_free_kbytes. It's not strictly needed
by this series but as the series cares about watermarks in
general, it's a harmless fix. It could be merged independently.

Patch 2 adds knowledge of the PFMEMALLOC reserves to SLAB and SLUB to
preserve access to pages allocated under low memory situations
to callers that are freeing memory.

Patch 3 introduces __GFP_MEMALLOC to allow access to the PFMEMALLOC
reserves without setting PFMEMALLOC.

Patch 4 opens the possibility for softirqs to use PFMEMALLOC reserves
for later use by network packet processing.

Patch 5 ignores memory policies when ALLOC_NO_WATERMARKS is set.

Patches 6-11 allows network processing to use PFMEMALLOC reserves when
the socket has been marked as being used by the VM to clean
pages. If packets are received and stored in pages that were
allocated under low-memory situations and are unrelated to
the VM, the packets are dropped.

Patch 12 is a micro-optimisation to avoid a function call in the
common case.

Patch 13 tags NBD sockets as being SOCK_MEMALLOC so they can use
PFMEMALLOC if necessary.

Patch 14 notes that it is still possible for the PFMEMALLOC reserve
to be depleted. To prevent this, direct reclaimers get
throttled on a waitqueue if 50% of the PFMEMALLOC reserves are
depleted. It is expected that kswapd and the direct reclaimers
already running will clean enough pages for the low watermark
to be reached and the throttled processes are woken up.

Patch 15 adds a statistic to track how often processes get throttled

Some basic performance testing was run using kernel builds, netperf
on loopback for UDP and TCP, hackbench (pipes and sockets), iozone
and sysbench. Each of them were expected to use the sl*b allocators
reasonably heavily but there did not appear to be significant
performance variances.

For testing swap-over-NBD, a machine was booted with 2G of RAM with a
swapfile backed by NBD. 8*NUM_CPU processes were started that create
anonymous memory mappings and read them linearly in a loop. The total
size of the mappings were 4*PHYSICAL_MEMORY to use swap heavily under
memory pressure. Without the patches, the machine locks up within
minutes and runs to completion with them applied.

drivers/block/nbd.c | 6 +-
drivers/net/ethernet/chelsio/cxgb4/sge.c | 2 +-
drivers/net/ethernet/chelsio/cxgb4vf/sge.c | 2 +-
drivers/net/ethernet/intel/igb/igb_main.c | 2 +-
drivers/net/ethernet/intel/ixgbe/ixgbe_main.c | 2 +-
drivers/net/ethernet/intel/ixgbevf/ixgbevf_main.c | 3 +-
drivers/net/usb/cdc-phonet.c | 2 +-
drivers/usb/gadget/f_phonet.c | 2 +-
include/linux/gfp.h | 13 +-
include/linux/mm_types.h | 9 +
include/linux/mmzone.h | 1 +
include/linux/sched.h | 7 +
include/linux/skbuff.h | 66 ++++++-
include/linux/slub_def.h | 1 +
include/linux/vm_event_item.h | 1 +
include/net/sock.h | 19 ++
include/trace/events/gfpflags.h | 1 +
kernel/softirq.c | 3 +
mm/page_alloc.c | 57 ++++-
mm/slab.c | 235 ++++++++++++++++++---
mm/slub.c | 36 +++-
mm/vmscan.c | 72 +++++++
mm/vmstat.c | 1 +
net/core/dev.c | 52 ++++-
net/core/filter.c | 8 +
net/core/skbuff.c | 93 +++++++--
net/core/sock.c | 42 ++++
net/ipv4/tcp.c | 3 +-
net/ipv4/tcp_output.c | 16 +-
net/ipv6/tcp_ipv6.c | 12 +-
30 files changed, 675 insertions(+), 94 deletions(-)


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