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Re: [PATCH 0/8][RFC] IO latency/throughput fixes

From:  Linus Torvalds <>
To:  Jens Axboe <>
Subject:  Re: [PATCH 0/8][RFC] IO latency/throughput fixes
Date:  Mon, 6 Apr 2009 08:37:08 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID:  <alpine.LFD.2.00.0904060835530.3863@localhost.localdomain>
Cc:  Linux Kernel Mailing List <>,
Archive-link:  Article

On Mon, 6 Apr 2009, Jens Axboe wrote:
> Ran the fsync-tester [1]. Drive is a 3-4 years old SATA drive, fs is
> ext3/writeback. IO scheduler is CFQ.
> fsync time: 0.2785s
> fsync time: 0.2640s
> And with Linus torture dd running in the background:
> fsync time: 0.0109s
> fsync time: 0.5236s
> fsync time: 1.2108s

Ok, it's definitely better for me too. CFQ used to be the problem case 
(with the previous patches), now I've been trying with CFQ for a while, 
and it seems ok.

Not wonderful, by any means, but I haven't seen a 5+ second delay yet. 
I've come close (I have a few 2+s hickups in my trace), but it's 
clearly more responsive, even if I'd wish it to be better still.

One thing that I find intriguing is how the fsync time seems so 
_consistent_ across a wild variety of drives. It's interesting how you see 
delays that are roughly the same order of magnitude, even though you are 
using an old SATA drive, and I'm using the Intel SSD. And when you turn 
off TCQ, your numbers go down even more.

That just makes me suspect that there is something else than pure IO going 
on. There shouldn't be any idling by the IO scheduler in my setup 
("rotational" is zero for me), and quite frankly, I should not see 
latencies in the seconds even _with_ TCQ, since it should be limited to 
just 32 tags. Of course, maybe some of those requests just grow humongous. 

So maybe one reason the "sync()" workload is so horrible is that we get 
insanely big single requests. I see

	[root@nehalem queue]# cat max_sectors_kb 

so we should be limited to half a meg per request, but I guess 32 of those 
will take some time even on the Intel SSD. In fact, I guess the SSD is not 
really any faster than your 2-3 year old SATA disk when it comes to pure 
linear throughput

Hmm. Doing a "echo 64 > max_sectors_kb" does seem to make my experience 
nicer. At no really noticeable downside in throughput that I can see: the 
"dd+sync" still tends to fluctuate 30-40s. But maybe I'm fooling myself. 
But my 'strace' seems to agree: I'm having a hard time triggering anything 
even close to a second latency now.

I wonder if we could limit the tag usage by request _size_, ie not let big 
requests fill up all the tags (by all means allow writes to fill them up 
if they are small - it's with many small requests that you get the biggest 
advantage, after all, and with many _big_ requests that the downside is 
the biggest too).


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