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Thoughts on load control:

  • Load control code in BSD evolved from full process swapping.

  • Due to enormous memory sizes and slow disks, full process swapping is not feasible on today's systems.

    • However, some form of load control may be desired, to avoid thrashing.

  • The old BSD habit of freeing thread stacks would be hard to implement in Linux and would gain little memory (one or two pages per process).

    • However, we could free page tables that only have linear file pages in them. Easy to implement and frees up more memory.

    • Page tables of shared memory segments are a big issue on large database systems.

Main goals of load control:

  • Prevent the system from thrashing.

  • Reduce the number of processes that fault pages in from swap simultaneously.

  • Prevent thundering herds.

  • Allow the still running processes to finish their work faster, so the not currently running ones can get their jobs done faster too.


  • When memory pressure starts to get higher:

    • Put sleeping processes under load control.

    • Next to no-op "swap out".

    • Control their wakeup rate, to avoid a thundering herd of processes that need to access swap.

  • When memory pressure gets really high:

    • Suspend active processes temporarily, so the still running ones can make progress.

What suspending processes buys us:

  • Reduces contention on disk IO.

  • Indirectly reduces contention on memory, because suspended processes are not paging anything in.

It is not clear what measurements to use to detect a busy VM or near-thrashing situations:

  • Paging IO wait time?

  • Kswapd has trouble freeing enough memory?

    • On which zones/nodes?

  • ... ?

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last edited 2008-11-29 00:05:51 by RikvanRiel