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From: Balbir Singh <>
To: Andrew Morton <>
Cc: KAMEZAWA Hiroyuki <>,
	Peter Zijlstra <>,
	Linux Containers <>,
	YAMAMOTO Takashi <>,
	Paul Menage <>,
	Dave Hansen <>,
	Linux MM Mailing List <>,
	Nick Piggin <>,
	Vaidyanathan Srinivasan <>,
	Pavel Emelianov <>,
	Dhaval Giani <>,
	Balbir Singh <>,
	Linux Kernel Mailing List <>,
	Eric W Biederman <>
Subject: [-mm PATCH 10/10] Memory controller add documentation
Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2007 20:51:37 +0530	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <20070824152137.16582.27261.sendpatchset@balbir-laptop> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <20070824151948.16582.34424.sendpatchset@balbir-laptop>

Changelog since version 1

1. Wording and punctuation comments - Randy Dunlap
2. Differentiate between RSS and Page Cache - Paul Menage
3. Add detailed description of features - KAMEZAWA Hiroyuki
4. Fix a typo (drop_pages should be drop_caches) - YAMAMOTO Takshi

Signed-off-by: Balbir Singh <>

 Documentation/controllers/memory.txt |  259 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 1 file changed, 259 insertions(+)

diff -L Documentation/memcontrol.txt -puN /dev/null /dev/null
diff -puN /dev/null Documentation/controllers/memory.txt
--- /dev/null	2007-06-01 20:42:04.000000000 +0530
+++ linux-2.6.23-rc2-mm2-balbir/Documentation/controllers/memory.txt	2007-08-24 20:46:08.000000000 +0530
@@ -0,0 +1,259 @@
+Memory Controller
+Salient features
+a. Enable control of both RSS (mapped) and Page Cache (unmapped) pages
+b. The infrastructure allows easy addition of other types of memory to control
+c. Provides *zero overhead* for non memory controller users
+d. Provides a double LRU: global memory pressure causes reclaim from the
+   global LRU; a container on hitting a limit, reclaims from the per
+   container LRU
+NOTE: Page Cache (unmapped) also includes Swap Cache pages as a subset
+and will not be referred to explicitly in the rest of the documentation.
+Benefits and Purpose of the memory controller
+The memory controller isolates the memory behaviour of a group of tasks
+from the rest of the system. The article on LWN [12] mentions some probable
+uses of the memory controller. The memory controller can be used to
+a. Isolate an application or a group of applications
+   Memory hungry applications can be isolated and limited to a smaller
+   amount of memory.
+b. Create a container with limited amount of memory, this can be used
+   as a good alternative to booting with mem=XXXX.
+c. Virtualization solutions can control the amount of memory they want
+   to assign to a virtual machine instance.
+d. A CD/DVD burner could control the amount of memory used by the
+   rest of the system to ensure that burning does not fail due to lack
+   of available memory.
+e. There are several other use cases, find one or use the controller just
+   for fun (to learn and hack on the VM subsystem).
+1. History
+The memory controller has a long history. A request for comments for the memory
+controller was posted by Balbir Singh [1]. At the time the RFC was posted
+there were several implementations for memory control. The goal of the
+RFC was to build consensus and agreement for the minimal features required
+for memory control. The first RSS controller was posted by Balbir Singh[2]
+in Feb 2007. Pavel Emelianov [3][4][5] has since posted three versions of the
+RSS controller. At OLS, at the resource management BoF, everyone suggested
+that we handle both page cache and RSS together. Another request was raised
+to allow user space handling of OOM. The current memory controller is
+at version 6; it combines both mapped (RSS) and unmapped Page
+Cache Control [11].
+2. Memory Control
+Memory is a unique resource in the sense that it is present in a limited
+amount. If a task requires a lot of CPU processing, the task can spread
+its processing over a period of hours, days, months or years, but with
+memory, the same physical memory needs to be reused to accomplish the task.
+The memory controller implementation has been divided into phases. These
+1. Memory controller
+2. mlock(2) controller
+3. Kernel user memory accounting and slab control
+4. user mappings length controller
+The memory controller is the first controller developed.
+2.1. Design
+The core of the design is a counter called the res_counter. The res_counter
+tracks the current memory usage and limit of the group of processes associated
+with the controller. Each container has a memory controller specific data
+structure (mem_container) associated with it.
+2.2. Accounting
+		+--------------------+
+		|  mem_container     |
+		|  (res_counter)     |
+		+--------------------+
+		 /            ^      \
+		/             |       \
+           +---------------+  |        +---------------+
+           | mm_struct     |  |....    | mm_struct     |
+           |               |  |        |               |
+           +---------------+  |        +---------------+
+                              |
+                              + --------------+
+                                              |
+           +---------------+           +------+--------+
+           | page          +---------->  page_container|
+           |               |           |               |
+           +---------------+           +---------------+
+             (Figure 1: Hierarchy of Accounting)
+Figure 1 shows the important aspects of the controller
+1. Accounting happens per container
+2. Each mm_struct knows about which container it belongs to
+3. Each page has a pointer to the page_container, which in turn knows the
+   container it belongs to
+The accounting is done as follows: mem_container_charge() is invoked to setup
+the necessary data structures and check if the container that is being charged
+is over its limit. If it is then reclaim is invoked on the container.
+More details can be found in the reclaim section of this document.
+If everything goes well, a page meta-data-structure called page_container is
+allocated and associated with the page.  This routine also adds the page to
+the per container LRU.
+2.2.1 Accounting details
+All mapped pages (RSS) and unmapped user pages (Page Cache) are accounted.
+RSS pages are accounted at the time of page_add_*_rmap() unless they've already
+been accounted for earlier. A file page will be accounted for as Page Cache;
+it's mapped into the page tables of a process, duplicate accounting is carefully
+avoided. Page Cache pages are accounted at the time of add_to_page_cache().
+The corresponding routines that remove a page from the page tables or removes
+a page from Page Cache is used to decrement the accounting counters of the
+2.3 Shared Page Accounting
+Shared pages are accounted on the basis of the first touch approach. The
+container that first touches a page is accounted for the page. The principle
+behind this approach is that a container that aggressively uses a shared
+page will eventually get charged for it (once it is uncharged from
+the container that brought it in -- this will happen on memory pressure).
+2.4 Reclaim
+Each container maintains a per container LRU that consists of an active
+and inactive list. When a container goes over its limit, we first try
+to reclaim memory from the container so as to make space for the new
+pages that the container has touched. If the reclaim is unsuccessful,
+an OOM routine is invoked to select and kill the bulkiest task in the
+The reclaim algorithm has not been modified for containers, except that
+pages that are selected for reclaiming come from the per container LRU
+2. Locking
+The memory controller uses the following hierarchy
+1. zone->lru_lock is used for selecting pages to be isolated
+2. mem->lru_lock protects the per container LRU
+3. lock_page_container() is used to protect page->page_container
+3. User Interface
+0. Configuration
+1. Prepare the containers
+# mkdir -p /containers
+# mount -t container none /containers -o memory
+2. Make the new group and move bash into it
+# mkdir /containers/0
+# echo $$ >  /containers/0/tasks
+Since now we're in the 0 container,
+We can alter the memory limit:
+# echo -n 6000 > /containers/0/memory.limit
+We can check the usage:
+# cat /containers/0/memory.usage
+The memory.failcnt field gives the number of times that the container limit was
+4. Testing
+Balbir posted lmbench, AIM9, LTP and vmmstress results [10] and [11].
+Apart from that v6 has been tested with several applications and regular
+daily use. The controller has also been tested on the PPC64, x86_64 and
+UML platforms.
+4.1 Troubleshooting
+Sometimes a user might find that the application under a container is
+terminated. There are several causes for this:
+1. The container limit is too low (just too low to do anything useful)
+2. The user is using anonymous memory and swap is turned off or too low
+A sync followed by echo 1 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches will help get rid of
+some of the pages cached in the container (page cache pages).
+4.2 Task migration
+When a task migrates from one container to another, it's charge is not
+carried forward. The pages allocated from the original container still
+remain charged to it, the charge is dropped when the page is freed or
+4.3 Removing a container
+A container can be removed by rmdir, but as discussed in sections 4.1 and 4.2, a
+container might have some charge associated with it, even though all
+tasks have migrated away from it. If some pages are still left, after following
+the steps listed in sections 4.1 and 4.2, check the Swap Cache usage in
+/proc/meminfo to see if the Swap Cache usage is showing up in the
+containers memory.usage counter. A simple test of swapoff -a and swapon -a
+should free any pending Swap Cache usage.
+4.4 Choosing what to account  -- Page Cache (unmapped) vs RSS (mapped)?
+The type of memory accounted by the container can be limited to just
+mapped pages by writing "1" to memory.control_type field
+echo -n 1 > memory.control_type
+5. TODO
+1. Add support for accounting huge pages (as a separate controller)
+2. Improve the user interface to accept/display memory limits in KB or MB
+   rather than pages (since page sizes can differ across platforms/machines).
+3. Make container lists per-zone
+4. Make per-container scanner reclaim not-shared pages first
+5. Teach controller to account for shared-pages
+6. Start reclamation when the limit is lowered
+7. Start reclamation in the background when the limit is
+   not yet hit but the usage is getting closer
+8. Create per zone LRU lists per container
+Overall, the memory controller has been a stable controller and has been
+commented and discussed quite extensively in the community.
+1. Singh, Balbir. RFC: Memory Controller,
+2. Singh, Balbir. Memory Controller (RSS Control),
+3. Emelianov, Pavel. Resource controllers based on process containers
+4. Emelianov, Pavel. RSS controller based on process containers (v2)
+5. Emelianov, Pavel. RSS controller based on process containers (v3)
+6. Menage, Paul. Containers v10,
+7. Vaidyanathan, Srinivasan, Containers: Pagecache accounting and control
+   subsystem (v3),
+8. Singh, Balbir. RSS controller V2 test results (lmbench),
+9. Singh, Balbir. RSS controller V2 AIM9 results
+10. Singh, Balbir. Memory controller v6 results,
+11. Singh, Balbir. Memory controller v6,
+12. Corbet, Jonathan, Controlling memory use in containers,

	Warm Regards,
	Balbir Singh
	Linux Technology Center

      parent reply	other threads:[~2007-08-24 15:24 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 15+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2007-08-24 15:19 [-mm PATCH 0/10] Memory controller introduction (v7) Balbir Singh
2007-08-24 15:19 ` [-mm PATCH 1/10] Memory controller resource counters (v7) Balbir Singh
2007-08-24 15:20 ` [-mm PATCH 2/10] Memory controller containers setup (v7) Balbir Singh
2007-08-24 15:20 ` [-mm PATCH 3/10] Memory controller accounting " Balbir Singh
2007-08-24 15:20 ` [-mm PATCH 4/10] Memory controller memory accounting (v7) Balbir Singh
2007-08-24 15:20 ` [-mm PATCH 5/10] Memory controller task migration (v7) Balbir Singh
2007-08-27  8:26   ` YAMAMOTO Takashi
2007-08-27 10:39     ` Balbir Singh
2007-08-28  8:32       ` YAMAMOTO Takashi
2007-08-28 20:04         ` Paul Menage
2007-08-24 15:20 ` [-mm PATCH 6/10] Memory controller add per container LRU and reclaim (v7) Balbir Singh
2007-08-24 15:21 ` [-mm PATCH 7/10] Memory controller OOM handling (v7) Balbir Singh
2007-08-24 15:21 ` [-mm PATCH 8/10] Memory controller add switch to control what type of pages to limit (v7) Balbir Singh
2007-08-24 15:21 ` [-mm PATCH 9/10] Memory controller make page_referenced() container aware (v7) Balbir Singh
2007-08-24 15:21 ` Balbir Singh [this message]

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