Dcache entries are allocated from the kmem_slab_cache, which manages
objects in page-size "slabs", but the kmem_slab_cache cannot free a
page until every object in a slab becomes unused. The problem is that
freeing dcache entries in LRU-order is effectively freeing entries
from randomly-selected slabs, and therefore applying shrink_caches()
pressure to the dcache has an undesired result. In the attempt to
reduce its size, the dcache must free objects from random slabs in
order to actually release full pages. The result is that under high
memory pressure the dcache utilization drops dramatically. The
prune_dcache() mechanism doesn't just reduce the page utilization as
desired, it reduces the intra-page utilization, which is bad.
In order to measure this effect (via /proc/slabinfo) I first populated
a large dcache and then ran a memory-hog to force swapping to occur.
The dcache utilization drops to between 20-35%. For example, before
running the memory-hog my dcache reports:
dentry_cache 10170 10170 128 339 339 1 : 252 126
(i.e., 10170 active dentry objects, 10170 available dentry objects @
128 bytes each, 339 pages with at least one object, and 339 allocated
pages, an approximately 1.4MB dcache)
While running the memory-hog program to initiate swapping, the dcache
dentry_cache 693 3150 128 105 105 1 : 252 126
Meaning, the randomly-applied cache pressure was successful at freeing
234 (= 339-105) pages, leaving a 430KB dcache, but at the same time it
reduced the cache utilization to 22%, meaning that although it was
able to free nearly 1MB of space, 335KB are now wasted as a result of
the high memory-pressure condition.
So, it would seem that the dcache and kmem_slab_cache memory allocator
could benefit from a way to shrink the dcache in a less random way.
-- PRCS version control system http://sourceforge.net/projects/prcs Xdelta storage & transport http://sourceforge.net/projects/xdelta Need a concurrent skip list? http://sourceforge.net/projects/skiplist - To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in the body of a message to firstname.lastname@example.org More majordomo info at http://vger.kernel.org/majordomo-info.html Please read the FAQ at http://www.tux.org/lkml/