Thursday, July 11, 2013

Selfish processes


There is an important optimization not described in previous posts, and not
considered in the evaluation and the traces shown there. The idea is
to let processes keep a few of the resources they release in case
they are needed later.

In particular, we modified the process structure to keep up to 10 pages
(of the size used for user segments). When a process releases a page
and has less than 10 pages kept, it simply keeps the page without
releasing it. Later, if a new page is needed it would first try to use
one from the per-process pool. The pool is not released when a process dies.
Instead, the pool is kept in the process structure and will be used
again when a new process is allocated using it.

The trace output taken after applying this optimization shows that
most of the pages are reused, and that for small cached programs about 1/3
of the allocations are satisfied with the per-process pool. Thus,
the contention on the central page allocator is greatly reduced with this
change.

Per process resource pool should be used with care. For example, our
attempts to do the same with the kernel memory allocator indicated that
it is not a good idea in this case. Memory allocations have very different
sizes and some structures are very long lived while others are very short
lived. Thus, what happen was that memory was wasted in per process pools
and, at the same time, not many memory allocations could benefit from this
technique.

In general, per-process allocation pools are a good idea when the structures
are frequently used and have the same size. For example, this could be
applied also to Chan and Path structures as used on Nix.