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Based on kernel version 3.16. Page generated on 2014-08-06 21:41 EST.

1	Started Jan 2000 by Kanoj Sarcar <kanoj@sgi.com>
2	
3	Memory balancing is needed for non __GFP_WAIT as well as for non
4	__GFP_IO allocations.
5	
6	There are two reasons to be requesting non __GFP_WAIT allocations:
7	the caller can not sleep (typically intr context), or does not want
8	to incur cost overheads of page stealing and possible swap io for
9	whatever reasons.
10	
11	__GFP_IO allocation requests are made to prevent file system deadlocks.
12	
13	In the absence of non sleepable allocation requests, it seems detrimental
14	to be doing balancing. Page reclamation can be kicked off lazily, that
15	is, only when needed (aka zone free memory is 0), instead of making it
16	a proactive process.
17	
18	That being said, the kernel should try to fulfill requests for direct
19	mapped pages from the direct mapped pool, instead of falling back on
20	the dma pool, so as to keep the dma pool filled for dma requests (atomic
21	or not). A similar argument applies to highmem and direct mapped pages.
22	OTOH, if there is a lot of free dma pages, it is preferable to satisfy
23	regular memory requests by allocating one from the dma pool, instead
24	of incurring the overhead of regular zone balancing.
25	
26	In 2.2, memory balancing/page reclamation would kick off only when the
27	_total_ number of free pages fell below 1/64 th of total memory. With the
28	right ratio of dma and regular memory, it is quite possible that balancing
29	would not be done even when the dma zone was completely empty. 2.2 has
30	been running production machines of varying memory sizes, and seems to be
31	doing fine even with the presence of this problem. In 2.3, due to
32	HIGHMEM, this problem is aggravated.
33	
34	In 2.3, zone balancing can be done in one of two ways: depending on the
35	zone size (and possibly of the size of lower class zones), we can decide
36	at init time how many free pages we should aim for while balancing any
37	zone. The good part is, while balancing, we do not need to look at sizes
38	of lower class zones, the bad part is, we might do too frequent balancing
39	due to ignoring possibly lower usage in the lower class zones. Also,
40	with a slight change in the allocation routine, it is possible to reduce
41	the memclass() macro to be a simple equality.
42	
43	Another possible solution is that we balance only when the free memory
44	of a zone _and_ all its lower class zones falls below 1/64th of the
45	total memory in the zone and its lower class zones. This fixes the 2.2
46	balancing problem, and stays as close to 2.2 behavior as possible. Also,
47	the balancing algorithm works the same way on the various architectures,
48	which have different numbers and types of zones. If we wanted to get
49	fancy, we could assign different weights to free pages in different
50	zones in the future.
51	
52	Note that if the size of the regular zone is huge compared to dma zone,
53	it becomes less significant to consider the free dma pages while
54	deciding whether to balance the regular zone. The first solution
55	becomes more attractive then.
56	
57	The appended patch implements the second solution. It also "fixes" two
58	problems: first, kswapd is woken up as in 2.2 on low memory conditions
59	for non-sleepable allocations. Second, the HIGHMEM zone is also balanced,
60	so as to give a fighting chance for replace_with_highmem() to get a
61	HIGHMEM page, as well as to ensure that HIGHMEM allocations do not
62	fall back into regular zone. This also makes sure that HIGHMEM pages
63	are not leaked (for example, in situations where a HIGHMEM page is in 
64	the swapcache but is not being used by anyone)
65	
66	kswapd also needs to know about the zones it should balance. kswapd is
67	primarily needed in a situation where balancing can not be done, 
68	probably because all allocation requests are coming from intr context
69	and all process contexts are sleeping. For 2.3, kswapd does not really
70	need to balance the highmem zone, since intr context does not request
71	highmem pages. kswapd looks at the zone_wake_kswapd field in the zone
72	structure to decide whether a zone needs balancing.
73	
74	Page stealing from process memory and shm is done if stealing the page would
75	alleviate memory pressure on any zone in the page's node that has fallen below
76	its watermark.
77	
78	watemark[WMARK_MIN/WMARK_LOW/WMARK_HIGH]/low_on_memory/zone_wake_kswapd: These
79	are per-zone fields, used to determine when a zone needs to be balanced. When
80	the number of pages falls below watermark[WMARK_MIN], the hysteric field
81	low_on_memory gets set. This stays set till the number of free pages becomes
82	watermark[WMARK_HIGH]. When low_on_memory is set, page allocation requests will
83	try to free some pages in the zone (providing GFP_WAIT is set in the request).
84	Orthogonal to this, is the decision to poke kswapd to free some zone pages.
85	That decision is not hysteresis based, and is done when the number of free
86	pages is below watermark[WMARK_LOW]; in which case zone_wake_kswapd is also set.
87	
88	
89	(Good) Ideas that I have heard:
90	1. Dynamic experience should influence balancing: number of failed requests
91	for a zone can be tracked and fed into the balancing scheme (jalvo@mbay.net)
92	2. Implement a replace_with_highmem()-like replace_with_regular() to preserve
93	dma pages. (lkd@tantalophile.demon.co.uk)
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