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From: Dave Chinner <>
To: Roman Gushchin <>
Cc: Michal Hocko <>, Chris Mason <>,
	"" <>,
	"" <>,
	"" <>,
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Subject: Re: [PATCH 1/2] Revert "mm: don't reclaim inodes with many attached pages"
Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2019 09:19:04 +1100
Message-ID: <20190131221904.GL4205@dastard> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <>

On Thu, Jan 31, 2019 at 06:57:10PM +0000, Roman Gushchin wrote:
> On Thu, Jan 31, 2019 at 10:10:11AM +0100, Michal Hocko wrote:
> > On Thu 31-01-19 12:34:03, Dave Chinner wrote:
> > > On Wed, Jan 30, 2019 at 12:21:07PM +0000, Chris Mason wrote:
> > > > 
> > > > 
> > > > On 29 Jan 2019, at 23:17, Dave Chinner wrote:
> > > > 
> > > > > From: Dave Chinner <>
> > > > >
> > > > > This reverts commit a76cf1a474d7dbcd9336b5f5afb0162baa142cf0.
> > > > >
> > > > > This change causes serious changes to page cache and inode cache
> > > > > behaviour and balance, resulting in major performance regressions
> > > > > when combining worklaods such as large file copies and kernel
> > > > > compiles.
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > 
> > > > I'm a little confused by the latest comment in the bz:
> > > > 
> > > >
> > > 
> > > Which says the first patch that changed the shrinker behaviour is
> > > the underlying cause of the regression.
> > > 
> > > > Are these reverts sufficient?
> > > 
> > > I think so.
> > > 
> > > > Roman beat me to suggesting Rik's followup.  We hit a different problem 
> > > > in prod with small slabs, and have a lot of instrumentation on Rik's 
> > > > code helping.
> > > 
> > > I think that's just another nasty, expedient hack that doesn't solve
> > > the underlying problem. Solving the underlying problem does not
> > > require changing core reclaim algorithms and upsetting a page
> > > reclaim/shrinker balance that has been stable and worked well for
> > > just about everyone for years.
> > 
> > I tend to agree with Dave here. Slab pressure balancing is quite subtle
> > and easy to get wrong. If we want to plug the problem with offline
> > memcgs then the fix should be targeted at that problem. So maybe we want
> > to emulate high pressure on offline memcgs only. There might be other
> > issues to resolve for small caches but let's start with something more
> > targeted first please.
> First, the path proposed by Dave is not regression-safe too. A slab object
> can be used by other cgroups as well, so creating an artificial pressure on
> the dying cgroup might perfectly affect the rest of the system.

Isolating regressions to the memcg dying path is far better than the
current changes you've made, which have already been *proven* to
affect the rest of the system.

> We do reparent
> slab lists on offlining, so there is even no easy way to iterate over them.
> Also, creating an artifical pressure will create unnecessary CPU load.

Yes, so do your changes - they increase small slab scanning by 100x
which means reclaim CPU has most definitely increased.

However, the memcg reaper *doesn't need to be perfect* to solve the
"takes too long to clean up dying memcgs". Even if it leaves shared
objects behind (which we want to do!), it still trims those memcgs
down to /just the shared objects still in use/.  And given that
objects shared by memcgs are in the minority (according to past
discussions about the difficulies of accounting them correctly) I
think this is just fine.

Besides, those reamining shared objects are the ones we want to
naturally age out under memory pressure, but otherwise the memcgs
will have been shaken clean of all other objects accounted to them.
i.e. the "dying memcg" memory footprint goes down massively and the
"long term buildup" of dying memcgs basically goes away.

> So I'd really prefer to make the "natural" memory pressure to be applied
> in a way, that doesn't leave any stalled objects behind.

Except that "natural" memory pressure isn't enough to do this, so
you've artificially inflated that "natural" pressure and screwed up
the reclaim for everyone else.

> Second, the code around slab pressure is not "worked well for years": as I can
> see the latest major change was made about a year ago by Josef Bacik
> (9092c71bb724 "mm: use sc->priority for slab shrink targets").

Strawman. False equivalence.

The commit you mention was effectively a minor tweak - instead of
using the ratio of pages scanned to pages reclaimed to define the
amount of slab work, (a second order measure of reclaim urgency), it
was changed to use the primary reclaim urgency directive that the
page scanning uses - the reclaim priority.

This *isn't a major change* in algorithm - it conveys essentially
exactly the same information, and does not change the overall page
cache vs shrinker reclaim balance. It just behaves more correctly in
corner cases where there is very little page cache/lots of slab and
vice versa.  It barely even changed the amount or balance of
reclaim being done under normal circumstances.

> The existing balance, even if it works perfectly for some cases, isn't something
> set in stone. We're really under-scanning small cgroups, and I strongly believe
> that what Rik is proposing is a right thing to do.

You keep saying "small cgroups". That is incorrect.

The shrinker knows nothing about the size of the cache. All it knows
is how many /freeable objects/ are in the cache. A large cache can
have zero freeable objects, and to the shrinker look just like a
small cache with just a few freeable objects. You're trying to
derive cache characterisations from accounting data that carries no
such information.

IOWs, adding yet another broken, racy, unpredictable "deferred scan
count" to triggers when there is few freeable objects in the cache
is not an improvement. The code is completely buggy, because
shrinkers can run in parallel and so shrinker->small_scan can be
modified by multiple shrinker instances running at the same time.
That's the problem the shrinker->nr_deferred[] array and the atomic
exchanges solve (which has other problems we really need to fix
before we even start thinking about changing shrinker balances at

> If we don't scan objects
> in small cgroups unless we have really strong memory pressure, we're basically
> wasting memory.

Maybe for memcgs, but that's exactly the oppose of what we want to
do for global caches (e.g. filesystem metadata caches). We need to
make sure that a single, heavily pressured cache doesn't evict small
caches that lower pressure but are equally important for

e.g. I've noticed recently a significant increase in RMW cycles in
XFS inode cache writeback during various benchmarks. It hasn't
affected performance because the machine has IO and CPU to burn, but
on slower machines and storage, it will have a major impact.

The reason these RMW cycles occur is that the dirty inode in memory
needs to be flushed to the backing buffer before it can be written.
That backing buffer is in a metadata slab cache controlled by a
shrinker (not the superblock shrinker which reclaims inodes).  It's
*much smaller* than the inode cache, but it also needs to be turned
over much more slowly than the inode cache. If it gets turned over
too quickly because of inode cache pressure, then flushing dirty
inodes (in the superblock inode cache shrinker!) needs to read the
backing buffer back in to memory before it can write the inode and
reclaim it.

And when you change the shrinker infrastructure to reclaim small
caches more aggressively? It changes the balance of cache reclaim
within the filesystem, and so opens up these "should have been in
the cache but wasn't" performance problems. Where are all the
problems that users have reported? In the superblock shrinker,
reclaiming XFS inodes, waiting on IO to be done on really slow Io
subsystems. Basically, we're stuck because the shrinker changes have
screwed up the intra-cache reclaim balance.

IOWs, there's complex dependencies between shrinkers and memory
reclaim, and changing the balance of large vs small caches can have
very adverse affects when memory pressure occurs. For XFS,
increasing small cache pressure vs large cache pressure has the
effect of *increasing the memory demand* of inode reclaim because
writeback has to allocate buffers, and that's one of the reasons
it's the canary for naive memory reclaim algorithm changes.

Just because something "works for your memcg heavy workload" doesn't
mean it works for everyone, or is even a desirable algorithmic

> And it really makes no sense to reclaim inodes with tons of attached pagecache
> as easy as "empty" inodes.

You didn't even know this happened until recently. Have you looked
up it's history?  e.g. from the initial git commit in 2.6.12, almost
15 years ago now, there's this comment on prune_icache():

 * Any inodes which are pinned purely because of attached pagecache have their
 * pagecache removed.  We expect the final iput() on that inode to add it to
 * the front of the inode_unused list.  So look for it there and if the
 * inode is still freeable, proceed.  The right inode is found 99.9% of the
 * time in testing on a 4-way.

Indeed, did you know this inode cache based page reclaim is what
PGINODESTEAL and KSWAPD_INODESTEAL /proc/vmstat record for us? e.g.
looking at my workstation:

$ grep inodesteal /proc/vmstat
pginodesteal 14617964
kswapd_inodesteal 6674859

Page cache reclaim from clean, unreferenced, aged-out inodes
actually happens an awful lot in real life.

> So, assuming all this, can we, please, first check if Rik's patch is addressing
> the regression?

Nope, it's broken and buggy, and reintroduces problems with racing
deferred counts that were fixed years ago when I originally
wrote the numa aware shrinker infrastructure.


Dave Chinner

  reply index

Thread overview: 20+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2019-01-30  4:17 [PATCH 0/2] [REGRESSION v4.19-20] mm: shrinkers are now way too aggressive Dave Chinner
2019-01-30  4:17 ` [PATCH 1/2] Revert "mm: don't reclaim inodes with many attached pages" Dave Chinner
2019-01-30 12:21   ` Chris Mason
2019-01-31  1:34     ` Dave Chinner
2019-01-31  9:10       ` Michal Hocko
2019-01-31 18:57         ` Roman Gushchin
2019-01-31 22:19           ` Dave Chinner [this message]
2019-02-04 21:47             ` Dave Chinner
2019-02-07 10:27             ` Jan Kara
2019-02-08  5:37               ` Andrew Morton
2019-02-08  9:55                 ` Jan Kara
2019-02-08 12:50                   ` Jan Kara
2019-02-08 22:49                     ` Andrew Morton
2019-02-09  3:42                       ` Roman Gushchin
2019-02-08 21:25                 ` Dave Chinner
2019-02-11 15:34               ` Wolfgang Walter
2019-01-31 15:48       ` Chris Mason
2019-02-01 23:39         ` Dave Chinner
2019-01-30  4:17 ` [PATCH 2/2] Revert "mm: slowly shrink slabs with a relatively small number of objects" Dave Chinner
2019-01-30  5:48 ` [PATCH 0/2] [REGRESSION v4.19-20] mm: shrinkers are now way too aggressive Roman Gushchin

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