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Subject[PATCH v3 09/11] Documentation/admin-guide/mm: Add a document for DAMON
From: SeongJae Park <>

This commit adds a simple document for DAMON under

Signed-off-by: SeongJae Park <>
.../admin-guide/mm/data_access_monitor.rst | 414 ++++++++++++++++++
Documentation/admin-guide/mm/index.rst | 1 +
2 files changed, 415 insertions(+)
create mode 100644 Documentation/admin-guide/mm/data_access_monitor.rst

diff --git a/Documentation/admin-guide/mm/data_access_monitor.rst b/Documentation/admin-guide/mm/data_access_monitor.rst
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..4d836c3866e2
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/admin-guide/mm/data_access_monitor.rst
@@ -0,0 +1,414 @@
+.. SPDX-License-Identifier: GPL-2.0
+DAMON: Data Access MONitor
+Memory management decisions can normally be more efficient if finer data access
+information is available. However, because finer information usually comes
+with higher overhead, most systems including Linux made a tradeoff: Forgive
+some wise decisions and use coarse information and/or light-weight heuristics.
+A number of experimental data access pattern awared memory management
+optimizations say the sacrifices are
+huge (2.55x slowdown). However, none of those has successfully adopted to
+Linux kernel mainly due to the absence of a scalable and efficient data access
+monitoring mechanism.
+DAMON is a data access monitoring solution for the problem. It is 1) accurate
+enough for the DRAM level memory management, 2) light-weight enough to be
+applied online, and 3) keeps predefined upper-bound overhead regardless of the
+size of target workloads (thus scalable).
+DAMON is implemented as a standalone kernel module and provides several simple
+interfaces. Owing to that, though it has mainly designed for the kernel's
+memory management mechanisms, it can be also used for a wide range of user
+space programs and people.
+Frequently Asked Questions
+Q: Why not integrated with perf?
+A: From the perspective of perf like profilers, DAMON can be thought of as a
+data source in kernel, like tracepoints, pressure stall information (psi), or
+idle page tracking. Thus, it can be easily integrated with those. However,
+this patchset doesn't provide a fancy perf integration because current step of
+DAMON development is focused on its core logic only. That said, DAMON already
+provides two interfaces for user space programs, which based on debugfs and
+tracepoint, respectively. Using the tracepoint interface, you can use DAMON
+with perf. This patchset also provides the debugfs interface based user space
+tool for DAMON. It can be used to record, visualize, and analyze data access
+pattern of target processes in a convenient way.
+Q: Why a new module, instead of extending perf or other tools?
+A: First, DAMON aims to be used by other programs including the kernel.
+Therefore, having dependency to specific tools like perf is not desirable.
+Second, because it need to be lightweight as much as possible so that it can be
+used online, any unnecessary overhead such as kernel - user space context
+switching cost should be avoided. These are the two most biggest reasons why
+DAMON is implemented in the kernel space. The idle page tracking subsystem
+would be the kernel module that most seems similar to DAMON. However, it's own
+interface is not compatible with DAMON. Also, the internal implementation of
+it has no common part to be reused by DAMON.
+Q: Can 'perf mem' provide the data required for DAMON?
+A: On the systems supporting 'perf mem', yes. DAMON is using the PTE Accessed
+bits in low level. Other H/W or S/W features that can be used for the purpose
+could be used. However, as explained with above question, DAMON need to be
+implemented in the kernel space.
+Expected Use-cases
+A straightforward usecase of DAMON would be the program behavior analysis.
+With the DAMON output, users can confirm whether the program is running as
+intended or not. This will be useful for debuggings and tests of design
+The monitored results can also be useful for counting the dynamic working set
+size of workloads. For the administration of memory overcommitted systems or
+selection of the environments (e.g., containers providing different amount of
+memory) for your workloads, this will be useful.
+If you are a programmer, you can optimize your program by managing the memory
+based on the actual data access pattern. For example, you can identify the
+dynamic hotness of your data using DAMON and call ``mlock()`` to keep your hot
+data in DRAM, or call ``madvise()`` with ``MADV_PAGEOUT`` to proactively
+reclaim cold data. Even though your program is guaranteed to not encounter
+memory pressure, you can still improve the performance by applying the DAMON
+outputs for call of ``MADV_HUGEPAGE`` and ``MADV_NOHUGEPAGE``. More creative
+optimizations would be possible. Our evaluations of DAMON includes a
+straightforward optimization using the ``mlock()``. Please refer to the below
+Evaluation section for more detail.
+As DAMON incurs very low overhead, such optimizations can be applied not only
+offline, but also online. Also, there is no reason to limit such optimizations
+to the user space. Several parts of the kernel's memory management mechanisms
+could be also optimized using DAMON. The reclamation, the THP (de)promotion
+decisions, and the compaction would be such a candidates.
+Mechanisms of DAMON
+Basic Access Check
+DAMON basically reports what pages are how frequently accessed. The report is
+passed to users in binary format via a ``result file`` which users can set it's
+path. Note that the frequency is not an absolute number of accesses, but a
+relative frequency among the pages of the target workloads.
+Users can also control the resolution of the reports by setting two time
+intervals, ``sampling interval`` and ``aggregation interval``. In detail,
+DAMON checks access to each page per ``sampling interval``, aggregates the
+results (counts the number of the accesses to each page), and reports the
+aggregated results per ``aggregation interval``. For the access check of each
+page, DAMON uses the Accessed bits of PTEs.
+This is thus similar to the previously mentioned periodic access checks based
+mechanisms, which overhead is increasing as the size of the target process
+Region Based Sampling
+To avoid the unbounded increase of the overhead, DAMON groups a number of
+adjacent pages that assumed to have same access frequencies into a region. As
+long as the assumption (pages in a region have same access frequencies) is
+kept, only one page in the region is required to be checked. Thus, for each
+``sampling interval``, DAMON randomly picks one page in each region and clears
+its Accessed bit. After one more ``sampling interval``, DAMON reads the
+Accessed bit of the page and increases the access frequency of the region if
+the bit has set meanwhile. Therefore, the monitoring overhead is controllable
+by setting the number of regions. DAMON allows users to set the minimal and
+maximum number of regions for the trade-off.
+Except the assumption, this is almost same with the above-mentioned
+miniature-like static region based sampling. In other words, this scheme
+cannot preserve the quality of the output if the assumption is not guaranteed.
+Adaptive Regions Adjustment
+At the beginning of the monitoring, DAMON constructs the initial regions by
+evenly splitting the memory mapped address space of the process into the
+user-specified minimal number of regions. In this initial state, the
+assumption is normally not kept and thus the quality could be low. To keep the
+assumption as much as possible, DAMON adaptively merges and splits each region.
+For each ``aggregation interval``, it compares the access frequencies of
+adjacent regions and merges those if the frequency difference is small. Then,
+after it reports and clears the aggregated access frequency of each region, it
+splits each region into two regions if the total number of regions is smaller
+than the half of the user-specified maximum number of regions.
+In this way, DAMON provides its best-effort quality and minimal overhead while
+keeping the bounds users set for their trade-off.
+Applying Dynamic Memory Mappings
+Only a number of small parts in the super-huge virtual address space of the
+processes is mapped to physical memory and accessed. Thus, tracking the
+unmapped address regions is just wasteful. However, tracking every memory
+mapping change might incur an overhead. For the reason, DAMON applies the
+dynamic memory mapping changes to the tracking regions only for each of an
+user-specified time interval (``regions update interval``).
+``debugfs`` Interface
+DAMON exports four files, ``attrs``, ``pids``, ``record``, and ``monitor_on``
+under its debugfs directory, ``<debugfs>/damon/``.
+Users can read and write the ``sampling interval``, ``aggregation interval``,
+``regions update interval``, and min/max number of monitoring target regions by
+reading from and writing to the ``attrs`` file. For example, below commands
+set those values to 5 ms, 100 ms, 1,000 ms, 10, 1000 and check it again::
+ # cd <debugfs>/damon
+ # echo 5000 100000 1000000 10 1000 > attrs
+ # cat attrs
+ 5000 100000 1000000 10 1000
+Target PIDs
+Users can read and write the pids of current monitoring target processes by
+reading from and writing to the ``pids`` file. For example, below commands set
+processes having pids 42 and 4242 as the processes to be monitored and check it
+ # cd <debugfs>/damon
+ # echo 42 4242 > pids
+ # cat pids
+ 42 4242
+Note that setting the pids doesn't starts the monitoring.
+DAMON support direct monitoring result record feature. The recorded results
+are first written to a buffer and flushed to a file in batch. Users can set
+the size of the buffer and the path to the result file by reading from and
+writing to the ``record`` file. For example, below commands set the buffer to
+be 4 KiB and the result to be saved in ``/``.
+ # cd <debugfs>/damon
+ # echo "4096 /" > pids
+ # cat record
+ 4096 /
+Turning On/Off
+You can check current status, start and stop the monitoring by reading from and
+writing to the ``monitor_on`` file. Writing ``on`` to the file starts DAMON to
+monitor the target processes with the attributes. Writing ``off`` to the file
+stops DAMON. DAMON also stops if every target processes is be terminated.
+Below example commands turn on, off, and check status of DAMON::
+ # cd <debugfs>/damon
+ # echo on > monitor_on
+ # echo off > monitor_on
+ # cat monitor_on
+ off
+Please note that you cannot write to the ``attrs`` and ``pids`` files while the
+monitoring is turned on. If you write to the files while DAMON is running,
+``-EINVAL`` will be returned.
+User Space Tool for DAMON
+There is a user space tool for DAMON, ``/tools/damon/damo``. It provides
+another user interface which more convenient than the debugfs interface.
+Nevertheless, note that it is only aimed to be used for minimal reference of
+the DAMON's debugfs interfaces and for tests of the DAMON itself. Based on the
+debugfs interface, you can create another cool and more convenient user space
+The interface of the tool is basically subcommand based. You can almost always
+use ``-h`` option to get help of the use of each subcommand. Currently, it
+supports two subcommands, ``record`` and ``report``.
+Recording Data Access Pattern
+The ``record`` subcommand records the data access pattern of target process in
+a file (``./`` by default) using DAMON. You can specifies the target
+as either pid or a command for an execution of the process. Below example
+shows a command target usage::
+ # cd <kernel>/tools/damon/
+ # ./damo record "sleep 5"
+The tool will execute ``sleep 5`` by itself and record the data access patterns
+of the process. Below example shows a pid target usage::
+ # sleep 5 &
+ # ./damo record `pidof sleep`
+You can set more detailed attributes and path to the recorded data file using
+optional arguments to the subcommand. Use the ``-h`` option for more help.
+Analyzing Data Access Pattern
+The ``report`` subcommand reads a data access pattern record file (if not
+explicitly specified, reads ``./`` file if exists) and generates
+reports of various types. You can specify what type of report you want using
+sub-subcommand to ``report`` subcommand. For supported types, pass the ``-h``
+option to ``report`` subcommand.
+``raw`` sub-subcommand simply transforms the record, which is storing the data
+access patterns in binary format to human readable text. For example::
+ $ ./damo report raw
+ start_time: 193485829398
+ rel time: 0
+ nr_tasks: 1
+ pid: 1348
+ nr_regions: 4
+ 560189609000-56018abce000( 22827008): 0
+ 7fbdff59a000-7fbdffaf1a00( 5601792): 0
+ 7fbdffaf1a00-7fbdffbb5000( 800256): 1
+ 7ffea0dc0000-7ffea0dfd000( 249856): 0
+ rel time: 100000731
+ nr_tasks: 1
+ pid: 1348
+ nr_regions: 6
+ 560189609000-56018abce000( 22827008): 0
+ 7fbdff59a000-7fbdff8ce933( 3361075): 0
+ 7fbdff8ce933-7fbdffaf1a00( 2240717): 1
+ 7fbdffaf1a00-7fbdffb66d99( 480153): 0
+ 7fbdffb66d99-7fbdffbb5000( 320103): 1
+ 7ffea0dc0000-7ffea0dfd000( 249856): 0
+The first line shows recording started timestamp (nanosecond). Records of data
+access patterns are following this. Each record is sperated by a blank line.
+Each record first specifies the recorded time (``rel time``), number of
+monitored tasks in this record (``nr_tasks``). Multiple number of records of
+data access pattern for each task continue. Each data access pattern for each
+task shows first it's pid (``pid``) and number of monitored virtual address
+regions in this access pattern (``nr_regions``). After that, each line shows
+start/end address, size, and number of monitored accesses to the region for
+each of the regions.
+The ``raw`` type shows detailed information but it is exhaustive to manually
+read and analyzed. For the reason, ``heats`` plots the data in heatmap form,
+using time as x-axis, virtual address as y-axis, and access frequency as
+z-axis. Also, users set the resolution and start/end point of each axis via
+optional arguments. For example::
+ $ ./damo report heats --tres 3 --ares 3
+ 0 0 0.0
+ 0 7609002 0.0
+ 0 15218004 0.0
+ 66112620851 0 0.0
+ 66112620851 7609002 0.0
+ 66112620851 15218004 0.0
+ 132225241702 0 0.0
+ 132225241702 7609002 0.0
+ 132225241702 15218004 0.0
+This command shows the recorded access pattern of the ``sleep`` command using 3
+data points for each of time axis and address axis. Therefore, it shows 9 data
+points in total.
+Users can easily converts this text output into heatmap image or other 3D
+representation using various tools such as 'gnuplot'. ``raw`` sub-subcommand
+also provides 'gnuplot' based heatmap image creation. For this, you can use
+``--heatmap`` option. Also, note that because it uses 'gnuplot' internally, it
+will fail if 'gnuplot' is not installed on your system. For example::
+ $ ./damo report heats --heatmap heatmap.png
+Creates ``heatmap.png`` file containing the heatmap image. It supports
+``pdf``, ``png``, ``jpeg``, and ``svg``.
+For proper zoom in / zoom out, you need to see the layout of the record. For
+that, use '--guide' option. If the option is given, it will provide useful
+information about the records in the record file. For example::
+ $ ./damo report heats --guide
+ pid:1348
+ time: 193485829398-198337863555 (4852034157)
+ region 0: 00000094564599762944-00000094564622589952 (22827008)
+ region 1: 00000140454009610240-00000140454016012288 (6402048)
+ region 2: 00000140731597193216-00000140731597443072 (249856)
+The output shows monitored regions (start and end addresses in byte) and
+monitored time duration (start and end time in nanosecond) of each target task.
+Therefore, it would be wise to plot only each region rather than plotting
+entire address space in one heatmap because the gaps between the regions are so
+huge in this case.
+The ``wss`` type shows the distribution or time-varying working set sizes of
+the recorded workload using the records. For example::
+ $ ./damo report wss
+ # <percentile> <wss>
+ # pid 1348
+ # avr: 66228
+ 0 0
+ 25 0
+ 50 0
+ 75 0
+ 100 1920615
+Without any option, it shows the distribution of the working set sizes as
+above. Basically it shows 0th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 100th percentile and
+average of the measured working set sizes in the access pattern records. In
+this case, the working set size was zero for 75th percentile but 1,920,615
+bytes in max and 66,228 in average.
+By setting the sort key of the percentile using '--sortby', you can also see
+how the working set size is chronologically changed. For example::
+ $ ./damo report wss --sortby time
+ # <percentile> <wss>
+ # pid 1348
+ # avr: 66228
+ 0 0
+ 25 0
+ 50 0
+ 75 0
+ 100 0
+The average is still 66,228. And, because we sorted the working set using
+recorded time and the access is very short, we cannot show when the access
+Users can specify the resolution of the distribution (``--range``). It also
+supports 'gnuplot' based simple visualization (``--plot``) of the distribution.
diff --git a/Documentation/admin-guide/mm/index.rst b/Documentation/admin-guide/mm/index.rst
index 11db46448354..d3d0ba373eb6 100644
--- a/Documentation/admin-guide/mm/index.rst
+++ b/Documentation/admin-guide/mm/index.rst
@@ -27,6 +27,7 @@ the Linux memory management.

+ data_access_monitor
 \ /
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