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SubjectRe: [PATCH 27/53] perf/core: Put size of a sample at the end of it by PERF_SAMPLE_TAILSIZE

On 2016/1/12 2:09, Alexei Starovoitov wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 11, 2016 at 01:48:18PM +0000, Wang Nan wrote:
>> This patch introduces a PERF_SAMPLE_TAILSIZE flag which allows a size
>> field attached at the end of a sample. The idea comes from [1] that,
>> with tie size at tail of an event, it is possible for user program who
>> read from the ring buffer parse events backward.
>> For example:
>> head
>> |
>> V
>> +--+---+-------+----------+------+---+
>> |E6|...| B 8| C 11| D 7|E..|
>> +--+---+-------+----------+------+---+
>> In this case, from the 'head' pointer provided by kernel, user program
>> can first see '6' by (*(head - sizeof(u64))), then it can get the start
>> pointer of record 'E', then it can read size and find start position
>> of record D, C, B in similar way.
> adding extra 8 bytes for every sample is quite unfortunate.
> How about another idea:
> . update data_tail pointer when head is about to overwrite it
> Ex:
> head data_tail
> | |
> V V
> +--+-------+-------+---+----+---+
> |E | ... | B | C | D | E |
> +--+-------+-------+---+----+---+
> if new sample F is about to overwrite B, the kernel would need
> to read the size of B from B's header and update data_tail to point C.
> Or even further.
> Comparing to TAILSIZE approach, now kernel will be doing both reads
> and writes into ring-buffer and there is a concern that reads may
> be hitting cold data, but if the records are small they may be
> actually on the same cache line brought by the previous
> read A's header, write E record cycle. So I think we shouldn't see
> cache misses.

After ring buffer rewind, we need a read before nearly
every write operations. The performance penalty depends on
configuration of write allocate. In addition, another data
dependency is required: we must wait for the size of
event B is retrived before overwrite it.

Even in the very first try at 2013 in [1], reading from the ring
buffer is avoided. I don't think Peter changes his mind now.

> Another concern is validity of records stored. If user space messes
> with ring-buffer, kernel won't be able to move data_tail properly
> and would need to indicate that to userspace somehow.
> But memory saving of 8 bytes per record could be sizable

Yes. But I have already discussed with Peter on this in [2].
Last month I suggested:


1. If PERF_SAMPLE_SIZE is selected, we can avoid outputting the event
size in header. Which eliminate extra space cost;



That would mandate you always parse the stream backwards. Which seems
rather unfortunate. Also, no you cannot recoup the extra space, see the
alignment and size requirement.


> and
> user space wouldn't need to walk the whole buffer backwards and
> can just start from valid data_tail, so the dumps of overwrite
> ring-buffer will be faster too.
> Thoughts?
Please also refer to [3]. In that patch we introduced a userspace
ring buffer in perf and make it continously collect data from
normal ring buffers. Since we have to wake up perf to read data,
the cost is even higher.


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