Serious performance issues, broken initialization, and a likely fix

Ade Lovett ade at FreeBSD.org
Mon Aug 8 21:39:34 GMT 2005


Or perhaps it should be just "Here be dragons"...

Whilst attempting to nail down some serious performance issues (compared
with 4.x) in preparation for a 6.x rollout here, we've come across
something of a fundamental bug.

In this particular environment (a Usenet transit server, so very high
network and disk I/O) we observed that processes were spending a
considerable amount of time in state 'wswbuf', traced back to getpbuf()
in vm/vm_pager.c

To cut a long story short, the order in which nswbuf is being
initialized is completely, totally, and utterly wrong -- this was
introduced by revision 1.132 of vm/vnode_pager.c just over 4 years ago.

In vnode_pager.c we find:

static void
vnode_pager_init(void)
{
	vnode_pbuf_freecnt = nswbuf / 2 + 1;
}

Unfortunately, nswbuf hasn't been assigned to yet, just happens to be
zero (in all cases), and thus the kernel believes that there is only
ever *one* swap buffer available.

kern_vfs_bio_buffer_alloc() in kern/vfs_bio.c which actually does the
calculation and assignment, is called rather further on in the process,
by which time the damage has been done.

The net result is that *any* calls involving getpbuf() will be
unconditionally serialized, completely destroying any kind of
concurrency (and performance).

Given the memory footprint of our machines, we've hacked in a simple:

	nswbuf = 0x100;

into vnode_pager_init(), since the calculation ends up giving us the
maximum number anyway.  There are a number of possible 'correct' fixes
in terms of re-ordering the startup sequence.

With the aforementioned hack, we're now seeing considerably better
machine operation, certainly as good as similar 4.10-STABLE boxes.

As per $SUBJECT, this affects all of RELENG_5, RELENG_6, and HEAD, and
should, IMO, be considered an absolutely required fix for 6.0-RELEASE.

-aDe



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