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SubjectRe: threads-max observe limits

On 9/17/19 12:03 PM, Michal Hocko wrote:
> Hi,
> I have just stumbled over 16db3d3f1170 ("kernel/sysctl.c: threads-max
> observe limits") and I am really wondering what is the motivation behind
> the patch. We've had a customer noticing the threads_max autoscaling
> differences btween 3.12 and 4.4 kernels and wanted to override the auto
> tuning from the userspace, just to find out that this is not possible.

set_max_threads() sets the upper limit (max_threads_suggested) for
threads such that at a maximum 1/8th of the total memory can be occupied
by the thread's administrative data (of size THREADS_SIZE). On my 32 GiB
system this results in 254313 threads.

With patch 16db3d3f1170 ("kernel/sysctl.c: threads-max observe limits")
a user cannot set an arbitrarily high number for
/proc/sys/kernel/threads-max which could lead to a system stalling
because the thread headers occupy all the memory.

When developing the patch I remarked that on a system where memory is
installed dynamically it might be a good idea to recalculate this limit.
If you have a system that boots with let's say 8 GiB and than
dynamically installs a few TiB of RAM this might make sense. But such a
dynamic update of thread_max_suggested was left out for the sake of

Anyway if more than 100,000 threads are used on a system, I would wonder
if the software should not be changed to use thread-pools instead.

Best regards


> Why do we override user admin like that? I find it quite dubious to be
> honest. Especially when the auto-tunning is just a very rough estimation
> and it seems quite arbitrary.
> Thanks

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