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SubjectRe: mmap vs fs cache

Added mm list to CC.

On Tue 05-03-13 09:57:34, Howard Chu wrote:
> I'm testing our memory-mapped database code on a small VM. The
> machine has 32GB of RAM and the size of the DB on disk is ~44GB. The
> database library mmaps the entire file as a single region and starts
> accessing it as a tree of B+trees. Running on an Ubuntu 3.5.0-23
> kernel, XFS on a local disk.
> If I start running read-only queries against the DB with a freshly
> started server, I see that my process (OpenLDAP slapd) quickly grows
> to an RSS of about 16GB in tandem with the FS cache. (I.e., "top"
> shows 16GB cached, and slapd is 16GB.)
> If I confine my queries to the first 20% of the data then it all
> fits in RAM and queries are nice and fast.
> if I extend the query range to cover more of the data, approaching
> the size of physical RAM, I see something strange - the FS cache
> keeps growing, but the slapd process size grows at a slower rate.
> This is rather puzzling to me since the only thing triggering reads
> is accesses through the mmap region. Eventually the FS cache grows
> to basically all of the 32GB of RAM (+/- some text/data space...)
> but the slapd process only reaches 25GB, at which point it actually
> starts to shrink - apparently the FS cache is now stealing pages
> from it. I find that a bit puzzling; if the pages are present in
> memory, and the only reason they were paged in was to satisfy an
> mmap reference, why aren't they simply assigned to the slapd
> process?
> The current behavior gets even more aggravating: I can run a test
> that spans exactly 30GB of the data. One would expect that the slapd
> process should simply grow to 30GB in size, and then remain static
> for the remainder of the test. Instead, the server grows to 25GB,
> the FS cache grows to 32GB, and starts stealing pages from the
> server, shrinking it back down to 19GB or so.
> If I do an "echo 1 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches" at the onset of this
> condition, the FS cache shrinks back to 25GB, matching the slapd
> process size.
> This then frees up enough RAM for slapd to grow further. If I don't
> do this, the test is constantly paging in data from disk. Even so,
> the FS cache continues to grow faster than the slapd process size,
> so the system may run out of free RAM again, and I have to drop
> caches multiple times before slapd finally grows to the full 30GB.
> Once it gets to that size the test runs entirely from RAM with zero
> I/Os, but it doesn't get there without a lot of babysitting.
> 2 questions:
> why is there data in the FS cache that isn't owned by (the mmap
> of) the process that caused it to be paged in in the first place?
> is there a tunable knob to discourage the page cache from stealing
> from the process?
> --
> -- Howard Chu
> CTO, Symas Corp.
> Director, Highland Sun
> Chief Architect, OpenLDAP
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Jan Kara <>

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