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Re: [Xen-devel] [PATCH v9 2/4] xen/blkback: Squeeze page pools if a memory pressure is detected

On Fri, Dec 13, 2019 at 03:35:44PM +0000, SeongJae Park wrote:
> Each `blkif` has a free pages pool for the grant mapping.  The size of
> the pool starts from zero and is increased on demand while processing
> the I/O requests.  If current I/O requests handling is finished or 100
> milliseconds has passed since last I/O requests handling, it checks and
> shrinks the pool to not exceed the size limit, `max_buffer_pages`.
> Therefore, host administrators can cause memory pressure in blkback by
> attaching a large number of block devices and inducing I/O.  Such
> problematic situations can be avoided by limiting the maximum number of
> devices that can be attached, but finding the optimal limit is not so
> easy.  Improper set of the limit can results in memory pressure or a
> resource underutilization.  This commit avoids such problematic
> situations by squeezing the pools (returns every free page in the pool
> to the system) for a while (users can set this duration via a module
> parameter) if memory pressure is detected.
> Discussions
> ===========
> The `blkback`'s original shrinking mechanism returns only pages in the
> pool which are not currently be used by `blkback` to the system.  In
> other words, the pages that are not mapped with granted pages.  Because
> this commit is changing only the shrink limit but still uses the same
> freeing mechanism it does not touch pages which are currently mapping
> grants.
> Once memory pressure is detected, this commit keeps the squeezing limit
> for a user-specified time duration.  The duration should be neither too
> long nor too short.  If it is too long, the squeezing incurring overhead
> can reduce the I/O performance.  If it is too short, `blkback` will not
> free enough pages to reduce the memory pressure.  This commit sets the
> value as `10 milliseconds` by default because it is a short time in
> terms of I/O while it is a long time in terms of memory operations.
> Also, as the original shrinking mechanism works for at least every 100
> milliseconds, this could be a somewhat reasonable choice.  I also tested
> other durations (refer to the below section for more details) and
> confirmed that 10 milliseconds is the one that works best with the test.
> That said, the proper duration depends on actual configurations and
> workloads.  That's why this commit allows users to set the duration as a
> module parameter.
> Memory Pressure Test
> ====================
> To show how this commit fixes the memory pressure situation well, I
> configured a test environment on a xen-running virtualization system.
> On the `blkfront` running guest instances, I attach a large number of
> network-backed volume devices and induce I/O to those.  Meanwhile, I
> measure the number of pages that swapped in (pswpin) and out (pswpout)
> on the `blkback` running guest.  The test ran twice, once for the
> `blkback` before this commit and once for that after this commit.  As
> shown below, this commit has dramatically reduced the memory pressure:
>                 pswpin  pswpout
>     before      76,672  185,799
>     after          212    3,325
> Optimal Aggressive Shrinking Duration
> -------------------------------------
> To find a best squeezing duration, I repeated the test with three
> different durations (1ms, 10ms, and 100ms).  The results are as below:
>     duration    pswpin  pswpout
>     1           852     6,424
>     10          212     3,325
>     100         203     3,340
> As expected, the memory pressure has decreased as the duration is
> increased, but the reduction stopped from the `10ms`.  Based on this
> results, I chose the default duration as 10ms.
> Performance Overhead Test
> =========================
> This commit could incur I/O performance degradation under severe memory
> pressure because the squeezing will require more page allocations per
> I/O.  To show the overhead, I artificially made a worst-case squeezing
> situation and measured the I/O performance of a `blkfront` running
> guest.
> For the artificial squeezing, I set the `blkback.max_buffer_pages` using
> the `/sys/module/xen_blkback/parameters/max_buffer_pages` file.  In this
> test, I set the value to `1024` and `0`.  The `1024` is the default
> value.  Setting the value as `0` is same to a situation doing the
> squeezing always (worst-case).
> For the I/O performance measurement, I run a simple `dd` command 5 times
> as below and collect the 'MB/s' results.
>     $ for i in {1..5}; do dd if=/dev/zero of=file \
>                              bs=4k count=$((256*512)); sync; done
> If the underlying block device is slow enough, the squeezing overhead
> could be hidden.  For the reason, I do this test for both a slow block
> device and a fast block device.  I use a popular cloud block storage
> service, ebs[1] as a slow device and the ramdisk block device[2] for the
> fast device.
> The results are as below.  'max_pgs' represents the value of the
> `blkback.max_buffer_pages` parameter.
> On the slow block device
> ------------------------
>     max_pgs   Min       Max       Median     Avg    Stddev
>     0         38.7      45.8      38.7       40.12  3.1752165
>     1024      38.7      45.8      38.7       40.12  3.1752165
>     No difference proven at 95.0% confidence
> On the fast block device
> ------------------------
>     max_pgs   Min       Max       Median     Avg    Stddev
>     0         417       423       420        419.4  2.5099801
>     1024      414       425       416        417.8  4.4384682
>     No difference proven at 95.0% confidence
> In short, even worst case squeezing on ramdisk based fast block device
> makes no visible performance degradation.  Please note that this is just
> a very simple and minimal test.  On systems using super-fast block
> devices and a special I/O workload, the results might be different.  If
> you have any doubt, test on your machine with your workload to find the
> optimal squeezing duration for you.
> [1] https://aws.amazon.com/ebs/
> [2] https://www.kernel.org/doc/html/latest/admin-guide/blockdev/ramdisk.html
> Signed-off-by: SeongJae Park <sjpark@xxxxxxxxx>

Reviewed-by: Roger Pau Monné <roger.pau@xxxxxxxxxx>

Thanks, Roger.

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