Christoph Lameter wrote:
David VomLehn wrote:
The virtually mapped memmap results in smaller code and is typically more
effective since the processor caches the TLB entries.
I'm pretty ignorant on this subject, but I think this is worth
discussing. On a MIPS processor, access to low memory bypasses the TLB
entirely. I think what you are suggesting is to use mapped addresses to
make all of low memory virtually contiguous. On a MIPS processor, we
No the virtual area is only used to map the memory map (the array of page
structs). That is just a small fraction of memory.
could do this by allocating a "wired" TLB entry for each physically
contiguous block of memory.
That would consume precious resources.
Just place the memmap into the vmalloc area gets you there. TLB entries should
be loaded on demand.
If I'm understand what you are suggesting correctly (a big if)
The cost going through a TLB mapping is only incurred for accesses to the
memmap array. Not for general memory accesses.
The bottom line is that, no, I didn't understand correctly. And a part of my
brain woke me up a 3:00 this morning to say, "duh", to me. I hate it when my
brain does that, but I think I actually do understand this time. Let's see:
For a flat memory model, the page descriptors array memmap is contiguously
allocated in low memory. For sparse memory, you only allocate memory to hold page
descriptors that actually exist. If you don't enable CONFIG_SPARSEMEM_VMEMMAP,
you introduce a level of indirection where the top bits of an address gives you
an index into an array that points to an array of page descriptors for that
section of memory. This has some performance impact relative to flat memory due
to the extra memory access to read the pointer to the array of page descriptors.
If you do enable CONFIG_SPARSEMEM_VMEMMAP, you still allocate memory to hold page
descriptors, but you map that memory into virtual space so that a given page
descriptor for a physical address is at the offset from the beginning of the
virtual memmap corresponding to the page frame number of that address. This gives
you a single memmap, just like you had in the flat memory case, though memmap now
lives in virtual address space. Since memmap now lives in virtual address space,
you don't need to use any memory to back the virtual addresses that correspond to
the holes in your physical memory, which is how you save a lot of physical
memory. The performance impact relative to flag memory is now that of having to
go through the TLB to get to the page descriptor.
If you are using CONFIG_SPARSEMEM_VMEMMAP and the corresponding TLB entry is
present, you expect this will be faster than the extra memory access you do when
CONFIG_SPARSEMEM_VMEMMAP is not enabled, even if that memory is in cache. This
seems like a pretty reasonable expectation to me. Since TLB entries cover much
more memory than the cache, it also seems like there would be a much better
chance that you already have the corresponding TLB entry than having the indirect
memory pointer in cache. And, in the worst case, reading the TLB entry is just
another memory access, so it's closely equivalent to not enabling
So, if I understand this right, the overhead on a MIPS processor using flat
memory versus using sparse memory with CONFIG_SPARSEMEM_VMEMMAP enabled would be
mostly the difference between accessing unmapped memory, which doesn't go through
the TLB, and mapped memory, which does. Even though there is some impact due to
TLB misses, this should be pretty reasonable. What a way cool approach!