add BIO_NORETRY flag, implement support in ata_da, use in ZFS vdev_geom

Andriy Gapon avg at
Tue Dec 12 16:26:41 UTC 2017

On 25/11/2017 19:57, Warner Losh wrote:
> Let's walk through this. You see that it takes a long time to fail an I/O.
> Perfectly reasonable observation. There's two reasons for this. One is that the
> disks take a while to make an attempt to get the data. The second is that the
> system has a global policy that's biased towards 'recover the data' over 'fail
> fast'. These can be fixed by reducing the timeouts, or lowing the read-retry
> count for a given drive or globally as a policy decision made by the system
> administrator.
> It may be perfectly reasonable to ask the lower layers to 'fail fast' and have
> either a hard or a soft deadline on the I/O for a subset of I/O. A hard deadline
> would return ETIMEDOUT or something when it's passed and cancel the I/O. This
> gives better determinism in the system, but some systems can't cancel just 1 I/O
> (like SATA drives), so we have to flush the whole queue. If we get a lot of
> these, performance suffers. However, for some class of drives, you know that if
> it doesn't succeed in 1s after you submit it to the drive, it's unlikely to
> complete successfully and it's worth the performance hit on a drive that's
> already acting up.
> You could have a soft timeout, which says 'don't do any additional action after
> X time has elapsed and you get word about this I/O. This is similar to the hard
> timeout, but just stops retrying after the deadline has passed. This scenario is
> better on the other users of the drive, assuming that the read-recovery
> operations aren't starving them. It's also easier to implement, but has worse
> worst case performance characteristics.
> You aren't asking to limit retries. You're really asking to the I/O subsystem to
> limit, where it can, the amount of time on an I/O so you can try another one.
> You're means to doing this is to tell it not to retry. That's the wrong means.
> It shouldn't be listed in the API that it's a 'NO RETRY' request. It should be a
> QoS request flag: fail fast.

I completely agree.
'NO RETRY' was a bad name and now I see it with painful clarity.
Just to clarify, I agree not only on the name, but also on everything else you
said above.

> Part of why I'm being so difficult is that you don't understand this and are
> proposing a horrible API. It should have a different name.

I completely agree.

> The other reason is
> that I  absolutely do not want to overload EIO. You must return a different
> error back up the stack. You've show no interest in this past, which is also a
> needless argument. We've given good reasons, and you've poopooed them with bad
> arguments.

I still honestly don't understand this.
I think that bio_error and bio_flags are sufficient to properly interpret the
"fail-fast EIO".  And I never intended for that error to be ever propagated by
any means other than in bio_error.

> Also, this isn't the data I asked for. I know things can fail slowly. I was
> asking for how it would improve systems running like this. As in "I implemented
> it, and was able to fail over to this other drive faster" or something like
> that. Actual drive failure scenarios vary widely, and optimizing for this one
> failure is unwise. It may be the right optimization, but it may not. There's
> lots of tricky edges in this space.

Well, I implemented my quick hack (as you absolutely correctly characterized it)
in response to something that I observed happening in the past and that hasn't
happen to me since then.
But, realistically, I do not expect myself to be able to reproduce and test
every tricky failure scenario.

Andriy Gapon

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