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Re: [dm-devel] [PATCH v6 0/4] ext4: Coordinate data-only flush requests sent by fsync

On Mon, 2010-11-29 at 18:48 -0500, Ric Wheeler wrote:
> On 11/29/2010 05:05 PM, Darrick J. Wong wrote:
> > On certain types of hardware, issuing a write cache flush takes a considerable
> > amount of time.  Typically, these are simple storage systems with write cache
> > enabled and no battery to save that cache after a power failure.  When we
> > encounter a system with many I/O threads that write data and then call fsync
> > after more transactions accumulate, ext4_sync_file performs a data-only flush,
> > the performance of which is suboptimal because each of those threads issues its
> > own flush command to the drive instead of trying to coordinate the flush,
> > thereby wasting execution time.
> >
> > Instead of each fsync call initiating its own flush, there's now a flag to
> > indicate if (0) no flushes are ongoing, (1) we're delaying a short time to
> > collect other fsync threads, or (2) we're actually in-progress on a flush.
> >
> > So, if someone calls ext4_sync_file and no flushes are in progress, the flag
> > shifts from 0->1 and the thread delays for a short time to see if there are any
> > other threads that are close behind in ext4_sync_file.  After that wait, the
> > state transitions to 2 and the flush is issued.  Once that's done, the state
> > goes back to 0 and a completion is signalled.
> >
> > Those close-behind threads see the flag is already 1, and go to sleep until the
> > completion is signalled.  Instead of issuing a flush themselves, they simply
> > wait for that first thread to do it for them.  If they see that the flag is 2,
> > they wait for the current flush to finish, and start over.
> >
> > However, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule.  First, there exist
> > high-end storage arrays with battery-backed write caches for which flush
> > commands take very little time (<  2ms); on these systems, performing the
> > coordination actually lowers performance.  Given the earlier patch to the block
> > layer to report low-level device flush times, we can detect this situation and
> > have all threads issue flushes without coordinating, as we did before.  The
> > second case is when there's a single thread issuing flushes, in which case it
> > can skip the coordination.
> >
> > This author of this patch is aware that jbd2 has a similar flush coordination
> > scheme for journal commits.  An earlier version of this patch simply created a
> > new empty journal transaction and committed it, but that approach was shown to
> > increase the amount of write traffic heading towards the disk, which in turn
> > lowered performance considerably, especially in the case where directio was in
> > use.  Therefore, this patch adds the coordination code directly to ext4.
> Hi Darrick,
> Just curious why we would need to have batching in both places? Doesn't your 
> patch set make the jbd2 transaction batching redundant?

We hoped JBD2 could take care of the batching too. But ftrace shows
there are a fair amount of barriers (440 barriers/second, if I remember
right) sending from ext4_sync_file(), but not coming from jbd2 side. :(

> I noticed that the patches have a default delay and a mount option to override 
> that default. The jbd2 code today tries to measure the average time needed in a 
> transaction and automatically tune itself. Can't we do something similar with 
> your patch set? (I hate to see yet another mount option added!)

I don't like a new mount option too. Darrick's new mount option is for
the threshold to turn on/off batching. Probably could make it a tunables
instead of a mount option.

> Regards,
> Ric

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