Sudden mbuf demand increase and shortage under the load (igb issue?)

Kostik Belousov kostikbel at
Tue Feb 16 19:59:00 UTC 2010

[Trimmed Cc: list]

On Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 10:11:18AM -0800, Maxim Sobolev wrote:
> OK, here is some new data that I think rules out any issues with the 
> applications. Following Alfred's suggestion I have made a script to run 
> every second and output some system statistics:
> date
> netstat -m
> vmstat -i
> ps -axl
> pstat -T
> vmstat -z
> sysctl -a
> The problem had hit us again today several times and upon investigating 
> the log I found that increase in the mbuf usage happened in one step - 
> going from normal 10% to 100% between two script runs. What is more 
> interesting, is that time from two such subsequent runs were about 2 
> minutes apart (instead of 1 second as it should be) and when inspecting 
> cron logs I noticed the same time gap in there. I ruled out any VM 
> starvation as a cause of the delay because system has plenty of free 
> memory. The incoming network traffic was not sufficient to starve VM so 
> quickly either - it was about 7MB/sec at that time, so even if all 
> receivers stopped draining their buffers it should have taken at least 
> 1-2 seconds to fill up mbuf cache and create demand for an additional 
> kernel memory. The failure would likely to be more gradual and I should 
> have seen how it builds up in the debug log.
> So it looks like kernel issue of a sort, which causes all userland 
> activity to cease for 2 minutes when the system reaches certain load. 
> Mbuf build-up is only the by-product of this, not really a cause. igb(4) 
> is being the primary suspect now, since we have other machines with more 
> load not having this problem and we don't have anybody else using this 
> driver.  The chip is the following:
> igb0 at pci0:5:0:0:        class=0x020000 card=0x323f103c chip=0x10c98086 
> rev=0x01 hdr=0x00
>     vendor     = 'Intel Corporation'
>     class      = network
>     subclass   = ethernet
> igb1 at pci0:5:0:1:        class=0x020000 card=0x323f103c chip=0x10c98086 
> rev=0x01 hdr=0x00
>     vendor     = 'Intel Corporation'
>     class      = network
>     subclass   = ethernet
> Hardware in question is a new HP DL160G6. I have also checked IPMI logs 
> and sensors and have not found any issue in there as well. No sensors 
> reported off-range values and chassis temperature is within normal limits.
> I am not sure how to debug this problem further. We are now 
> investigating opportunity to install external non-igb card to the server 
> and see if it solves the issue.
> I have the whole log if anyone wants to take a closer peek.

How much physical memory do you have installed in the machine ?
If it is > 16Gb, try to remove some.
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