Bug 164328 - 64 bit performance
64 bit performance
Product: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3
Classification: Red Hat
Component: kernel (Show other bugs)
x86_64 Linux
high Severity medium
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Assigned To: Larry Woodman
Brian Brock
Depends On:
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Reported: 2005-07-26 18:29 EDT by Wendy Cheng
Modified: 2007-11-30 17:07 EST (History)
3 users (show)

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Fixed In Version:
Doc Type: Bug Fix
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Clone Of:
Last Closed: 2005-08-18 19:14:37 EDT
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RHEL 7.3 requirements from Atomic Host:
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Description Wendy Cheng 2005-07-26 18:29:47 EDT
From Bugzilla Helper:
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.7.7) Gecko/20050427 Red Hat/1.7.7-

Description of problem:
The 64 bit (IA64 and x86_64) page cache performance has been an issue since AS2.1 and it still exists in RHEL 4. Since most of the customer reports are filed against RHEL 3, this ticket is opened with RHEL 3 due to its relevant nature.
The issue is difficult to quantify since it is normally filed with a vague statement such as                                                                                                          "the system is sluggish", "the cluster keeps failing over for no reason", or "I've recreated our production system's performance problem using 9 dd to pump 900GB of data into disk", etc. The following is an attempt to characterize the issue so we can investigate the problem in a managable manner:

1. Command latency is high (interactive commands temporarily suspended):
Ext3 seems to have difficulties to flush its data/journal into the disk. This temporarily suspend the access to that filesystem. If the blocked (ext3) filesystem happens to be the root partition, users would see sluggish system response time. Ext3 tuning normally provides some relieves (say seperating a gigantic filesystem into smaller ones and/or uses an external journal device).

2. Memory gets fragmented easily (and higher-than-normal swapping activities):

Sysrq-m shows the larger cache buckets are completely depleted. We normally suggest the customer to fine tune its /proc/sys/vm/bdflush (sync more often) and /proc/sys/vm/pagecache (restrict the pagecache usage). 

3. IO path runs out of io request descriptors:

This is shown in sysrq-t thread trace that large amount of io paths are waiting for free io request descriptors. We sometime ship customers with test kernel that increases the descriptor count and reduces its batch sizes.

4. Sync helps -

Force a "sync" command, mount filesystem sync, and/or increasing bdflush wakeup interval helps and sometime even make the problem goes away.

Note that all of the above tuning tips help but most of the time we still can't bring the system up to a satisfying state acceptable by the customer and/or comparable with 32 bit systems. With several critical customer issues on hand, this bugzilla is opened to request engineering team's further investigation and searching for solutions. Individual IT tickets will follow after this bugzilla is opened.

BTW, I suspect all of the above are caused by the size of the page (4 times larger than 32 bit system) that exaggerates the linux vm slab cache memory problem and depletes the page cache in an amazing speed. 

BTW, I suspect all of the above are caused by the size of the page (4 times larger than 32 bit system) that
exaggerates the linux vm slab cache memory problem and all our internal logic (such as page
reclaiming logic) do not play well with 64 bit system (compared with 32 bit boxes

Version-Release number of selected component (if applicable):

How reproducible:

Steps to Reproduce:
1. please see each individual ticket.

Additional info:
Comment 2 Wendy Cheng 2005-07-26 19:51:51 EDT
Since bugzilla doesn't allow editing (on the comments), add two side notes for

1. IA64 exhibits the same problems. 
2. The very same application and/or system configuration normally run fine on
IA32 system (such as i686). 
Comment 3 Wendy Cheng 2005-07-27 17:24:33 EDT
action plan from our end:

1. done with VM tuning (by pagecache and bdflush)
2. in the middle of doing ext3 tuning proposal to the customer (external journal
device, writeback mode, etc)
3. after 2), we'll do io tuning (elvtune, io request descriptor, etc). 

If anyone has any other idea, please do chip in. 
Comment 5 Wendy Cheng 2005-07-28 10:06:41 EDT
Red Hat internal benchmark (we use MySQL) shows 25 - 30% of performance
improvement with ext3 journal tuning. 
Comment 7 Wendy Cheng 2005-08-08 10:51:26 EDT
Working with Red Hat kernel engineers on this issue. 

1) One customer is currently experimenting with setting up a 10000MB
hugetlb_pool on a 16GB machine with its application (DB2 - udb) tuned to use
huge pages.

echo <MB> > /proc/sys/vm/hugetlb_pool

This creates the pool of hugetlb pages of the size specified by <MB>. It must be
done at boot time or shortly after since these pages are subject to
fragmentation. It is best to add it to the /etc/sysctl.conf:

vm.hugetlb_pool = <Size In MB>

To verify the setting, say if set to 32 MB after reboot:

* check /proc/meminfo (before running the application). It should show:

  HugePages_Total:     16
  HugePages_Free:      16
  Hugepagesize:     2048 kB

  This means there are 16 2MB TLB pages available.

* The following entry should also show up in /proc/filesystems:

  nodev   hugetlbfs

2) There is a kscand fix in 2.4.21-32.11.EL kernel (preview ISOs are available
on the partners ftp site) that is suggested to the customer. Along with the
kernel, the customer is directed to force daemon to scan 10% of its normal
number of pages each time it runs by:

   "echo 10 > /proc/sys/vm/kscand_work_percent".  

The tuned system is currently closely monitored. 
Comment 9 Wendy Cheng 2005-08-08 11:00:26 EDT
Add one of the tuning tips embeded in previous private comment for public reference:

* /proc/sys/vm/pagecache and /proc/sys/vm/bdlfush tuning relieves the hang
from > 10 sec down to 1-4 secs in one of the customer's 16GB system.
Comment 11 Ernie Petrides 2005-08-18 19:14:37 EDT
Closing per last comment.

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