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SubjectRe: mmap vs fs cache
On Thu, Mar 07, 2013 at 04:43:12PM +0100, Jan Kara wrote:
> 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?

The filesystem cache is shared among processes because the filesystem
is also shared among processes. If another task were to access the
same file, we still should only have one copy of that data in memory.

It sounds to me like slapd is itself caching all the data it reads.
If that is true, shouldn't it really be using direct IO to prevent
this double buffering of filesystem data in memory?

> > is there a tunable knob to discourage the page cache from stealing
> > from the process?

Try reducing /proc/sys/vm/swappiness, which ranges from 0-100 and
defaults to 60.

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