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SubjectRe: [PATCH -mm v9 0/8] idle memory tracking
On Wed, Jul 22, 2015 at 07:23:53PM +0300, Vladimir Davydov wrote:
> On Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 04:34:02PM -0700, Andrew Morton wrote:
> > On Sun, 19 Jul 2015 15:31:09 +0300 Vladimir Davydov <> wrote:

> > > Documentation/vm/pagemap.txt | 22 ++-
> >
> > I think we'll need quite a lot more than this to fully describe the
> > interface?
> Agree, the documentation sucks :-( Will try to forge something more
> thorough.

The incremental patch is attached. Could you please merge it into
From: Vladimir Davydov <>
Subject: [PATCH] Documentation: Add idle page tracking description

Signed-off-by: Vladimir Davydov <>

diff --git a/Documentation/vm/00-INDEX b/Documentation/vm/00-INDEX
index 081c49777abb..6a5e2a102a45 100644
--- a/Documentation/vm/00-INDEX
+++ b/Documentation/vm/00-INDEX
@@ -14,6 +14,8 @@ hugetlbpage.txt
- a brief summary of hugetlbpage support in the Linux kernel.
- explains what hwpoison is
+ - description of the idle page tracking feature.
- how to use the Kernel Samepage Merging feature.
diff --git a/Documentation/vm/idle_page_tracking.txt b/Documentation/vm/idle_page_tracking.txt
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..d0f332d544c4
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/vm/idle_page_tracking.txt
@@ -0,0 +1,94 @@
+The idle page tracking feature allows to track which memory pages are being
+accessed by a workload and which are idle. This information can be useful for
+estimating the workload's working set size, which, in turn, can be taken into
+account when configuring the workload parameters, setting memory cgroup limits,
+or deciding where to place the workload within a compute cluster.
+If CONFIG_IDLE_PAGE_TRACKING was enabled on compile time, a new read-write file
+is present on the proc filesystem, /proc/kpageidle.
+The file implements a bitmap where each bit corresponds to a memory page. The
+bitmap is represented by an array of 8-byte integers, and the page at PFN #i is
+mapped to bit #i%64 of array element #i/64, byte order is native. When a bit is
+set, the corresponding page is idle.
+A page is considered idle if it has not been accessed since it was marked idle
+(for more details on what "accessed" actually means see the IMPLEMENTATION
+DETAILS section). To mark a page idle one has to set the bit corresponding to
+the page by writing to the file. A value written to the file is OR-ed with the
+current bitmap value.
+Only accesses to user memory pages are tracked. These are pages mapped to a
+process address space, page cache and buffer pages, swap cache pages. For other
+page types (e.g. SLAB pages) an attempt to mark a page idle is silently ignored,
+and hence such pages are never reported idle.
+For huge pages the idle flag is set only on the head page, so one has to read
+/proc/kpageflags in order to correctly count idle huge pages.
+Reading from or writing to /proc/kpageidle will return -EINVAL if you are not
+starting the read/write on an 8-byte boundary, or if the size of the read/write
+is not a multiple of 8 bytes. Writing to this file beyond max PFN will return
+That said, in order to estimate the amount of pages that are not used by a
+workload one should:
+ 1. Mark all the workload's pages as idle by setting corresponding bits in the
+ /proc/kpageidle bitmap. The pages can be found by reading /proc/pid/pagemap
+ if the workload is represented by a process, or by filtering out alien pages
+ using /proc/kpagecgroup in case the workload is placed in a memory cgroup.
+ 2. Wait until the workload accesses its working set.
+ 3. Read /proc/kpageidle and count the number of bits set. If one wants to
+ ignore certain types of pages, e.g. mlocked pages since they are not
+ reclaimable, he or she can filter them out using /proc/kpageflags.
+See Documentation/vm/pagemap.txt for more information about /proc/pid/pagemap,
+/proc/kpageflags, and /proc/kpagecgroup.
+The kernel internally keeps track of accesses to user memory pages in order to
+reclaim unreferenced pages first on memory shortage conditions. A page is
+considered referenced if it has been recently accessed via a process address
+space, in which case one or more PTEs it is mapped to will have the Accessed bit
+set, or marked accessed explicitly by the kernel (see mark_page_accessed()). The
+latter happens when:
+ - a userspace process reads or writes a page using a system call (e.g. read(2)
+ or write(2))
+ - a page that is used for storing filesystem buffers is read or written,
+ because a process needs filesystem metadata stored in it (e.g. lists a
+ directory tree)
+ - a page is accessed by a device driver using get_user_pages()
+When a dirty page is written to swap or disk as a result of memory reclaim or
+exceeding the dirty memory limit, it is not marked referenced.
+The idle memory tracking feature adds a new page flag, the Idle flag. This flag
+is set manually, by writing to /proc/kpageidle (see the USER API section), and
+cleared automatically whenever a page is referenced as defined above.
+When a page is marked idle, the Accessed bit must be cleared in all PTEs it is
+mapped to, otherwise we will not be able to detect accesses to the page coming
+from a process address space. To avoid interference with the reclaimer, which,
+as noted above, uses the Accessed bit to promote actively referenced pages, one
+more page flag is introduced, the Young flag. When the PTE Accessed bit is
+cleared as a result of setting or updating a page's Idle flag, the Young flag
+is set on the page. The reclaimer treats the Young flag as an extra PTE
+Accessed bit and therefore will consider such a page as referenced.
+Since the idle memory tracking feature is based on the memory reclaimer logic,
+it only works with pages that are on an LRU list, other pages are silently
+ignored. That means it will ignore a user memory page if it is isolated, but
+since there are usually not many of them, it should not affect the overall
+result noticeably. In order not to stall scanning of /proc/kpageidle, locked
+pages may be skipped too.
diff --git a/Documentation/vm/pagemap.txt b/Documentation/vm/pagemap.txt
index 538735465693..cff513e28a13 100644
--- a/Documentation/vm/pagemap.txt
+++ b/Documentation/vm/pagemap.txt
@@ -71,15 +71,8 @@ There are five components to pagemap:
memory cgroup each page is charged to, indexed by PFN. Only available when

- * /proc/kpageidle. This file implements a bitmap where each bit corresponds
- to a page, indexed by PFN. When the bit is set, the corresponding page is
- idle. A page is considered idle if it has not been accessed since it was
- marked idle. To mark a page idle one should set the bit corresponding to the
- page by writing to the file. A value written to the file is OR-ed with the
- current bitmap value. Only user memory pages can be marked idle, for other
- page types input is silently ignored. Writing to this file beyond max PFN
- results in the ENXIO error. Only available when CONFIG_IDLE_PAGE_TRACKING is
- set.
+ * /proc/kpageidle. This file comprises API of the idle page tracking feature.
+ See Documentation/vm/idle_page_tracking.txt for more details.

Short descriptions to the page flags:

diff --git a/mm/Kconfig b/mm/Kconfig
index a1de09926171..90fa89175102 100644
--- a/mm/Kconfig
+++ b/mm/Kconfig
@@ -666,4 +666,4 @@ config IDLE_PAGE_TRACKING
be useful to tune memory cgroup limits and/or for job placement
within a compute cluster.

- See Documentation/vm/pagemap.txt for more details.
+ See Documentation/vm/idle_page_tracking.txt for more details.

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