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SubjectRe: [PATCH v9 0/8] stg mail -e --version=v9 \
On Tue, Sep 10, 2019 at 7:47 AM Michal Hocko <> wrote:
> On Tue 10-09-19 07:42:43, Alexander Duyck wrote:
> > On Tue, Sep 10, 2019 at 5:42 AM Michal Hocko <> wrote:
> > >
> > > I wanted to review "mm: Introduce Reported pages" just realize that I
> > > have no clue on what is going on so returned to the cover and it didn't
> > > really help much. I am completely unfamiliar with virtio so please bear
> > > with me.
> > >
> > > On Sat 07-09-19 10:25:03, Alexander Duyck wrote:
> > > [...]
> > > > This series provides an asynchronous means of reporting to a hypervisor
> > > > that a guest page is no longer in use and can have the data associated
> > > > with it dropped. To do this I have implemented functionality that allows
> > > > for what I am referring to as unused page reporting
> > > >
> > > > The functionality for this is fairly simple. When enabled it will allocate
> > > > statistics to track the number of reported pages in a given free area.
> > > > When the number of free pages exceeds this value plus a high water value,
> > > > currently 32, it will begin performing page reporting which consists of
> > > > pulling pages off of free list and placing them into a scatter list. The
> > > > scatterlist is then given to the page reporting device and it will perform
> > > > the required action to make the pages "reported", in the case of
> > > > virtio-balloon this results in the pages being madvised as MADV_DONTNEED
> > > > and as such they are forced out of the guest. After this they are placed
> > > > back on the free list,
> > >
> > > And here I am reallly lost because "forced out of the guest" makes me
> > > feel that those pages are no longer usable by the guest. So how come you
> > > can add them back to the free list. I suspect understanding this part
> > > will allow me to understand why we have to mark those pages and prevent
> > > merging.
> >
> > Basically as the paragraph above mentions "forced out of the guest"
> > really is just the hypervisor calling MADV_DONTNEED on the page in
> > question. So the behavior is the same as any userspace application
> > that calls MADV_DONTNEED where the contents are no longer accessible
> > from userspace and attempting to access them will result in a fault
> > and the page being populated with a zero fill on-demand page, or a
> > copy of the file contents if the memory is file backed.
> As I've said I have no idea about virt so this doesn't really tell me
> much. Does that mean that if somebody allocates such a page and tries to
> access it then virt will handle a fault and bring it back?

Actually I am probably describing too much as the MADV_DONTNEED is the
hypervisor behavior in response to the virtio-balloon notification. A
more thorough explanation of it can be found by just running "man
madvise", probably best just to leave it at that since I am probably
confusing things by describing hypervisor behavior in a kernel patch

For the most part all the page reporting really does is provide a way
to incrementally identify unused regions of memory in the buddy
allocator. That in turn is used by virtio-balloon in a polling thread
to report to the hypervisor what pages are not in use so that it can
make a decision on what to do with the pages now that it knows they
are unused.

All this is providing is just a report and it is optional if the
hypervisor will act on it or not. If the hypervisor takes some sort of
action on the page, then the expectation is that the hypervisor will
use some sort of mechanism such as a page fault to discover when the
page is used again.

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