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Date:   Wed, 9 Sep 2020 15:53:05 +0200
From:   Mauro Carvalho Chehab <>
To:     Andrii Nakryiko <>, <>
Cc:     <>, <>, <>,
        <>, <>,
        "Paul E . McKenney" <>,
        Jonathan Lemon <>,
        Stanislav Fomichev <>,
        Jonathan Corbet <>,
Subject: Re: [PATCH v4 bpf-next 5/5] docs/bpf: add BPF ring buffer design

Em Fri, 29 May 2020 00:54:24 -0700
Andrii Nakryiko <> escreveu:

> Add commit description from patch #1 as a stand-alone documentation under
> Documentation/bpf, as it might be more convenient format, in long term
> perspective.
> Suggested-by: Stanislav Fomichev <>
> Signed-off-by: Andrii Nakryiko <>
> ---
>  Documentation/bpf/ringbuf.rst | 209 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
>  1 file changed, 209 insertions(+)
>  create mode 100644 Documentation/bpf/ringbuf.rst
> diff --git a/Documentation/bpf/ringbuf.rst b/Documentation/bpf/ringbuf.rst
> new file mode 100644
> index 000000000000..75f943f0009d
> --- /dev/null
> +++ b/Documentation/bpf/ringbuf.rst
> @@ -0,0 +1,209 @@
> +===============
> +BPF ring buffer
> +===============
> +
> +This document describes BPF ring buffer design, API, and implementation details.
> +
> +.. contents::
> +    :local:
> +    :depth: 2
> +
> +Motivation
> +----------
> +
> +There are two distinctive motivators for this work, which are not satisfied by
> +existing perf buffer, which prompted creation of a new ring buffer
> +implementation.
> +
> +- more efficient memory utilization by sharing ring buffer across CPUs;
> +- preserving ordering of events that happen sequentially in time, even across
> +  multiple CPUs (e.g., fork/exec/exit events for a task).
> +
> +These two problems are independent, but perf buffer fails to satisfy both.
> +Both are a result of a choice to have per-CPU perf ring buffer.  Both can be
> +also solved by having an MPSC implementation of ring buffer. The ordering
> +problem could technically be solved for perf buffer with some in-kernel
> +counting, but given the first one requires an MPSC buffer, the same solution
> +would solve the second problem automatically.
> +
> +Semantics and APIs
> +------------------
> +
> +Single ring buffer is presented to BPF programs as an instance of BPF map of
> +type ``BPF_MAP_TYPE_RINGBUF``. Two other alternatives considered, but
> +ultimately rejected.
> +
> +One way would be to, similar to ``BPF_MAP_TYPE_PERF_EVENT_ARRAY``, make
> +``BPF_MAP_TYPE_RINGBUF`` could represent an array of ring buffers, but not
> +enforce "same CPU only" rule. This would be more familiar interface compatible
> +with existing perf buffer use in BPF, but would fail if application needed more
> +advanced logic to lookup ring buffer by arbitrary key.
> +``BPF_MAP_TYPE_HASH_OF_MAPS`` addresses this with current approach.
> +Additionally, given the performance of BPF ringbuf, many use cases would just
> +opt into a simple single ring buffer shared among all CPUs, for which current
> +approach would be an overkill.
> +
> +Another approach could introduce a new concept, alongside BPF map, to represent
> +generic "container" object, which doesn't necessarily have key/value interface
> +with lookup/update/delete operations. This approach would add a lot of extra
> +infrastructure that has to be built for observability and verifier support. It
> +would also add another concept that BPF developers would have to familiarize
> +themselves with, new syntax in libbpf, etc. But then would really provide no
> +additional benefits over the approach of using a map.  ``BPF_MAP_TYPE_RINGBUF``
> +doesn't support lookup/update/delete operations, but so doesn't few other map
> +types (e.g., queue and stack; array doesn't support delete, etc).
> +
> +The approach chosen has an advantage of re-using existing BPF map
> +infrastructure (introspection APIs in kernel, libbpf support, etc), being
> +familiar concept (no need to teach users a new type of object in BPF program),
> +and utilizing existing tooling (bpftool). For common scenario of using a single
> +ring buffer for all CPUs, it's as simple and straightforward, as would be with
> +a dedicated "container" object. On the other hand, by being a map, it can be
> +combined with ``ARRAY_OF_MAPS`` and ``HASH_OF_MAPS`` map-in-maps to implement
> +a wide variety of topologies, from one ring buffer for each CPU (e.g., as
> +a replacement for perf buffer use cases), to a complicated application
> +hashing/sharding of ring buffers (e.g., having a small pool of ring buffers
> +with hashed task's tgid being a look up key to preserve order, but reduce
> +contention).
> +
> +Key and value sizes are enforced to be zero. ``max_entries`` is used to specify
> +the size of ring buffer and has to be a power of 2 value.
> +
> +There are a bunch of similarities between perf buffer
> +(``BPF_MAP_TYPE_PERF_EVENT_ARRAY``) and new BPF ring buffer semantics:
> +
> +- variable-length records;
> +- if there is no more space left in ring buffer, reservation fails, no
> +  blocking;
> +- memory-mappable data area for user-space applications for ease of
> +  consumption and high performance;
> +- epoll notifications for new incoming data;
> +- but still the ability to do busy polling for new data to achieve the
> +  lowest latency, if necessary.
> +
> +BPF ringbuf provides two sets of APIs to BPF programs:
> +
> +- ``bpf_ringbuf_output()`` allows to *copy* data from one place to a ring
> +  buffer, similarly to ``bpf_perf_event_output()``;
> +- ``bpf_ringbuf_reserve()``/``bpf_ringbuf_commit()``/``bpf_ringbuf_discard()``
> +  APIs split the whole process into two steps. First, a fixed amount of space
> +  is reserved. If successful, a pointer to a data inside ring buffer data
> +  area is returned, which BPF programs can use similarly to a data inside
> +  array/hash maps. Once ready, this piece of memory is either committed or
> +  discarded. Discard is similar to commit, but makes consumer ignore the
> +  record.
> +
> +``bpf_ringbuf_output()`` has disadvantage of incurring extra memory copy,
> +because record has to be prepared in some other place first. But it allows to
> +submit records of the length that's not known to verifier beforehand. It also
> +closely matches ``bpf_perf_event_output()``, so will simplify migration
> +significantly.
> +
> +``bpf_ringbuf_reserve()`` avoids the extra copy of memory by providing a memory
> +pointer directly to ring buffer memory. In a lot of cases records are larger
> +than BPF stack space allows, so many programs have use extra per-CPU array as
> +a temporary heap for preparing sample. bpf_ringbuf_reserve() avoid this needs
> +completely. But in exchange, it only allows a known constant size of memory to
> +be reserved, such that verifier can verify that BPF program can't access memory
> +outside its reserved record space. bpf_ringbuf_output(), while slightly slower
> +due to extra memory copy, covers some use cases that are not suitable for
> +``bpf_ringbuf_reserve()``.
> +
> +The difference between commit and discard is very small. Discard just marks
> +a record as discarded, and such records are supposed to be ignored by consumer
> +code. Discard is useful for some advanced use-cases, such as ensuring
> +all-or-nothing multi-record submission, or emulating temporary
> +``malloc()``/``free()`` within single BPF program invocation.
> +
> +Each reserved record is tracked by verifier through existing
> +reference-tracking logic, similar to socket ref-tracking. It is thus
> +impossible to reserve a record, but forget to submit (or discard) it.
> +
> +``bpf_ringbuf_query()`` helper allows to query various properties of ring
> +buffer.  Currently 4 are supported:
> +
> +- ``BPF_RB_AVAIL_DATA`` returns amount of unconsumed data in ring buffer;
> +- ``BPF_RB_RING_SIZE`` returns the size of ring buffer;
> +- ``BPF_RB_CONS_POS``/``BPF_RB_PROD_POS`` returns current logical possition
> +  of consumer/producer, respectively.
> +
> +Returned values are momentarily snapshots of ring buffer state and could be
> +off by the time helper returns, so this should be used only for
> +debugging/reporting reasons or for implementing various heuristics, that take
> +into account highly-changeable nature of some of those characteristics.
> +
> +One such heuristic might involve more fine-grained control over poll/epoll
> +notifications about new data availability in ring buffer. Together with
> +``BPF_RB_NO_WAKEUP``/``BPF_RB_FORCE_WAKEUP`` flags for output/commit/discard
> +helpers, it allows BPF program a high degree of control and, e.g., more
> +efficient batched notifications. Default self-balancing strategy, though,
> +should be adequate for most applications and will work reliable and efficiently
> +already.
> +
> +Design and Implementation
> +-------------------------
> +
> +This reserve/commit schema allows a natural way for multiple producers, either
> +on different CPUs or even on the same CPU/in the same BPF program, to reserve
> +independent records and work with them without blocking other producers. This
> +means that if BPF program was interruped by another BPF program sharing the
> +same ring buffer, they will both get a record reserved (provided there is
> +enough space left) and can work with it and submit it independently. This
> +applies to NMI context as well, except that due to using a spinlock during
> +reservation, in NMI context, ``bpf_ringbuf_reserve()`` might fail to get
> +a lock, in which case reservation will fail even if ring buffer is not full.
> +
> +The ring buffer itself internally is implemented as a power-of-2 sized
> +circular buffer, with two logical and ever-increasing counters (which might
> +wrap around on 32-bit architectures, that's not a problem):
> +
> +- consumer counter shows up to which logical position consumer consumed the
> +  data;
> +- producer counter denotes amount of data reserved by all producers.
> +
> +Each time a record is reserved, producer that "owns" the record will
> +successfully advance producer counter. At that point, data is still not yet
> +ready to be consumed, though. Each record has 8 byte header, which contains the
> +length of reserved record, as well as two extra bits: busy bit to denote that
> +record is still being worked on, and discard bit, which might be set at commit
> +time if record is discarded. In the latter case, consumer is supposed to skip
> +the record and move on to the next one. Record header also encodes record's
> +relative offset from the beginning of ring buffer data area (in pages). This
> +allows ``bpf_ringbuf_commit()``/``bpf_ringbuf_discard()`` to accept only the
> +pointer to the record itself, without requiring also the pointer to ring buffer
> +itself. Ring buffer memory location will be restored from record metadata
> +header. This significantly simplifies verifier, as well as improving API
> +usability.
> +
> +Producer counter increments are serialized under spinlock, so there is
> +a strict ordering between reservations. Commits, on the other hand, are
> +completely lockless and independent. All records become available to consumer
> +in the order of reservations, but only after all previous records where
> +already committed. It is thus possible for slow producers to temporarily hold
> +off submitted records, that were reserved later.
> +
> +Reservation/commit/consumer protocol is verified by litmus tests in
> +Documentation/litmus_tests/bpf-rb/_.

Are there any missing patch that were supposed to be merged before this

There's no Documentation/litmus_tests/bpf-rb/_. This currently
causes a warning at the Kernel's building system:

	$ ./scripts/documentation-file-ref-check 
	Documentation/bpf/ringbuf.rst: Documentation/litmus_tests/bpf-rb/_

(This is reported when someone calls "make htmldocs")

Could you please fix this?


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