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Date:	Fri, 1 May 2009 15:12:35 +0100
From:	Mel Gorman <mel@....ul.ie>
To:	Hugh Dickins <hugh@...itas.com>
Cc:	Andrew Morton <akpm@...ux-foundation.org>,
	Andi Kleen <andi@...stfloor.org>,
	David Miller <davem@...emloft.net>, netdev@...r.kernel.org,
	linux-kernel@...r.kernel.org, linux-mm@...ck.org
Subject: Re: [PATCH mmotm] mm: alloc_large_system_hash check order

On Fri, May 01, 2009 at 03:00:15PM +0100, Mel Gorman wrote:
> > <SNIP>
> > 
> > Andrew noticed another oddity: that if it goes the hashdist __vmalloc()
> > way, it won't be limited by MAX_ORDER.  Makes one wonder whether it
> > ought to fall back to __vmalloc() if the alloc_pages_exact() fails.
> 
> I don't believe so. __vmalloc() is only used when hashdist= is used or on IA-64
> (according to the documentation).

I was foolish to believe the documentation. vmalloc() will be used by
default on 64-bit NUMA, not just IA-64.

> It is used in the case that the caller is
> willing to deal with the vmalloc() overhead (e.g. using base page PTEs) in
> exchange for the pages being interleaved on different nodes so that access
> to the hash table has average performance[*]
> 
> If we automatically fell back to vmalloc(), I bet 2c we'd eventually get
> a mysterious performance regression report for a workload that depended on
> the hash tables performance but that there was enough memory for the hash
> table to be allocated with vmalloc() instead of alloc_pages_exact().
> 

I think this point still holds. On non-NUMA machine, we don't want to fall
back to using vmalloc() just because the machine happened to have enough
memory. It's really tricky to know for sure though - will there be enough
performance benefits from having a bigger hash table to offset using base
pages to back it? It's probably unknowable because it depends on the exact
hardware and how the hash table is being used.

> [*] I speculate that on non-IA64 NUMA machines that we see different
>     performance for large filesystem benchmarks depending on whether we are
>     running on the boot-CPU node or not depending on whether hashdist=
>     is used or not.

This speculation is junk because using vmalloc() for hash tables is not
specific to IA-64.

> <SNIP>

-- 
Mel Gorman
Part-time Phd Student                          Linux Technology Center
University of Limerick                         IBM Dublin Software Lab
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