Debian GNU / Linux kernel tuning for low latency on small files

E-mail servers, data base servers, file servers, web servers struggle to cope with LATENCY on accessing millions of small files under heavy concurrent load.

Low latency is key factor to a good user experience.

With the Debian GNU / Linux 6.x kernel tuning, combined with the previous article hints about XenServer I/O latency, tuning filesystems configuring multipath, and data storage, we reduced eighty-four times our virtual block device latency at our environment.

Thousands concurrent synchronous writes of random small files on filesystems with millions of them while honoring write barriers for POSIX compliance, stress the limits of the data storage, file systems, kernel I/O, virtualization I/O, hardware data paths.

These are our findings and Linux kernel tunings in Cyrus IMAP e-mail servers grid under heavy load production since November 2011.

First of all, do not blindly apply these settings at your servers. Read the whole bibliography to understand what you are about to tune.

Understand what each parameter is doing.

Understand your server workload profile pattern.

Understand your hardware and storage performance and behaviour.

Understand your Fiber Channel SAN or iSCSI data path and network segment behaviour.

OUR environment has servers using Fiber Channel HBA multipath connected to FC disks WAFL Data Storage with very low latency and lots of ECC NVRAM for cache. It almost behaves as a giant SSD storage from latency standpoint.

This is important: if you are going to “flush” your servers kernel buffers as fast they could, you data storage and data path should be able to cope with such high IOPS and trough output.

You could even get out-of-memory errors caused by high latency storage hardware. The linked article author gone the opposite direction in tuning due to HIS hardware environment.

Read YOUR deployed kernel version documentation. The links below are for the latest kernel.org version.

http://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/block/queue-sysfs.txt

http://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/block/deadline-iosched.txt

http://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/sysctl/vm.txt

http://www.nextre.it/oracledocs/ioscheduler_01.html

Also, the net result is only as fast as your slowest link at your application stack, hardware and network stacks.

Carefully configure your application stack for low latency and performance.

At other articles we covered filesystem tuning, data storage LUN configurations, and some aspects of Cyrus IMAP configurations. More on future articles about performance tuning.

You will carefully watch the iostat output during the tests, looking for the bottlenecks.

Read the previous article bibliography and test results about XenServer I/O latency.

Learn how to correlate the output columns with the kernel parameters and your data storage behaviour. Read the manpage of iostat.

iostat -dmxthN 1 /dev/xvd*

Non persistent between reboots configuration

Use these during your test, tuning and evaluation phase.

Logged as root:

sysctl vm.swappiness=10

sysctl vm.dirty_background_ratio=1

sysctl vm.dirty_expire_centisecs=500

sysctl vm.dirty_ratio=15

sysctl vm.dirty_writeback_centisecs=100

cat /sys/block/xvdb/queue/nr_requests

echo "4" > /sys/block/xvdb/queue/nr_requests

cat /sys/block/xvdb/queue/nr_requests

cat /sys/block/xvdb/queue/scheduler

echo deadline > /sys/block/xvdb/queue/scheduler

cat /sys/block/xvdb/queue/scheduler

cat /sys/block/xvdb/queue/iosched/front_merges

echo 1 >/sys/block/xvdb/queue/iosched/front_merges

cat /sys/block/xvdb/queue/iosched/front_merges

cat /sys/block/xvdb/queue/iosched/fifo_batch

echo 1 >/sys/block/xvdb/queue/iosched/fifo_batch

cat /sys/block/xvdb/queue/iosched/fifo_batch

A very aggressive configuration (watch your %sys during test phase):

sysctl vm.dirty_expire_centisecs=50

sysctl vm.dirty_writeback_centisecs=10

sysctl vm.dirty_background_ratio=0

Debian GNU/Linux configuration persistent between reboots

You will need the “sysfsutils” package installed.

Append to your /etc/sysfs.conf

#AFM 20120523

block/xvdb/queue/nr_requests = 4

block/xvdb/queue/scheduler = deadline

block/xvdb/queue/iosched/front_merges = 1

block/xvdb/queue/iosched/fifo_batch = 1

Append to your /etc/sysctl.conf

#AFM 20120523

vm.swappiness = 10

vm.dirty_background_ratio = 1

vm.dirty_expire_centisecs = 500

vm.dirty_ratio = 15

vm.dirty_writeback_centisecs = 100

Some default values for the deadline i/o scheduler

For Debian GNU / Linux 6.x Squeeze, kernel 2.6.32

cat /sys/block/xvdb/queue/iosched/fifo_batch
16
cat /sys/block/xvdb/queue/iosched/front_merges
1
cat /sys/block/xvdb/queue/iosched/read_expire
500
cat /sys/block/xvdb/queue/iosched/write_expire
5000
cat /sys/block/xvdb/queue/iosched/writes_starved
2

Bibliography

kswapd0 , ksoftirqd0

http://forums.citrix.com/message.jspa?messageID=1511105 ************************** tuning de kernel para arquivos pequenos

http://askubuntu.com/questions/7858/why-is-ksoftirqd-0-process-using-all-my-cpu *

http://askubuntu.com/questions/73639/what-are-kswapd0-kworker-numnum-ksoftirqd-num *

http://www.mail-archive.com/rhelv5-list@redhat.com/msg05345.html

http://lkml.indiana.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/0506.0/1150.html

http://grokbase.com/t/centos.org/centos/2011/05/centos-kswapd-taking-100-cpu-with-no-swap-on-system/07g622yntfakij4lsruvrqxyjeom

http://answers.softpicks.net/answers/topic/High-CPU-load-with-kswapd-and-heavy-disk-I-O-1747240-1.htm

https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=115438

http://www.spinics.net/lists/linux-mm/msg16292.html

swappiness

http://feedblog.org/2006/09/27/stupid-linux-swap-tricks-with-swappiness/

http://www.linuxvox.com/2009/10/what-is-the-linux-kernel-parameter-vm-swappiness/

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/SwapFaq

http://kerneltrap.org/node/3000

http://lists.centos.org/pipermail/centos/2011-May/111433.html

https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=135312

https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/721896

https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=12309

http://us.generation-nt.com/kswapd-causing-giant-load-help-179939921.html

http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/linux-server-73/100-swap-usage-with-loads-of-free-memory-849452/

https://www.centos.org/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=28555

https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=437202

http://kerneltrap.org/mailarchive/linux-kernel/2007/9/24/294490

http://www.linuxforums.org/forum/kernel/65380-what-does-kswapd0-do.html

Linux kernel tuning for low latency block devices and small files

http://www.cyrius.com/debian/nslu2/linux-on-flash.html

http://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/sysctl/vm.txt ****************

http://serverfault.com/questions/126413/limit-linux-background-flush-dirty-pages ******

http://www.westnet.com/~gsmith/content/linux-pdflush.htm ****************

http://www.redhat.com/archives/linux-lvm/2004-February/msg00115.html ****

http://www.fccps.cz/download/adv/frr/hdd/hdd.html#tuning-intro ***************

http://www.serverphorums.com/read.php?12,115991

http://www.r71.nl/kb/technical/102-tuning-journaling-file-systems

http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX127065

http://forums.citrix.com/thread.jspa?messageID=1487300

http://knol.google.com/k/linux-performance-tuning-and-measurement *********

http://kerneltrap.org/node/4462 ***

http://www.mjmwired.net/kernel/Documentation/block/barrier.txt *****

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slab_allocation *

http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/library/l-linux-slab-allocator/

http://www.win.tue.nl/~aeb/linux/lk/lk-9.html **

http://www.fccps.cz/download/adv/frr/hdd/hdd.html ****

http://makarevitch.org/rant/raid/

http://www.softpanorama.org/Admin/performance_monitoring.shtml

http://www.linuxinsight.com/proc_sys_vm_vfs_cache_pressure.html *******

http://rudd-o.com/en/linux-and-free-software/tales-from-responsivenessland-why-linux-feels-slow-and-how-to-fix-that

https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=40111

http://duopetalflower.blogspot.com/2009/11/tuning-ubuntu-910-karmic-for-speed-and.html

http://www.pythian.com/news/247/basic-io-monitoring-on-linux/ ***

http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=481867 ***

http://bhavin.directi.com/iostat-and-disk-utilization-monitoring-nirvana/ ****

http://www.xaprb.com/blog/2009/08/23/how-to-find-per-process-io-statistics-on-linux/

http://www.faqs.org/docs/linux_admin/buffer-cache.html ***********

http://docs.vmd.citrix.com/XenServer/5.0.0/1.0/en_gb/reference.html#disk_qos

http://docs.vmd.citrix.com/XenServer/5.0.0/1.0/en_gb/reference.html#disk_scheduler

linux kernel tuning for low latency

http://quantlabs.net/blog/2011/09/quant-development-choosing-and-configuring-linux-for-low-latency/

http://docs.redhat.com/docs/en-US/Red_Hat_Enterprise_MRG/2/html/Realtime_Tuning_Guide/chap-Realtime_Tuning_Guide-General_System_Tuning.html *************************************

http://www.redhat.com/solutions/financial/trade_performance.html ****

http://www.fizyka.umk.pl/~jkob/prace-mag/cfs-tuning.pdf ****************

http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/library/l-cfs/ *******************

http://www.softpanorama.org/Commercial_linuxes/performance_tuning.shtml ********

http://lse.sourceforge.net/io/aio.html libaio *************

http://www.redhat.com/f/pdf/summit/RedHatEnterprisePerfTuning.pdf

http://doc.opensuse.org/products/opensuse/openSUSE/opensuse-tuning/cha.tuning.network.html ******

http://www.psc.edu/networking/projects/tcptune *******************

http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/redpapers/abstracts/redp4285.html ************

http://www.linuxvox.com/2009/11/what-is-the-linux-kernel-parameter-tcp_low_latency/ ****

http://hackingnasdaq.blogspot.com/2010/01/myth-of-procsysnetipv4tcplowlatency.html ************************

block devices

https://computing.llnl.gov/linux/ucrl-id-144213.html ****

http://dsstos.blogspot.com/2009/07/map-disk-block-devices-on-linux-host.html

ftp://ftp.ddnsupport.com/pub/da66ba4d/DCS9550_FC_LINUX_FAQ_v1.6.pdf **

http://www.puschitz.com/TuningLinuxForOracle.shtml#IOScheduler

http://linux.web.cern.ch/linux/scientific5/docs/rhel/Online_Storage_Reconfiguration_Guide.pdf

http://www.monperrus.net/martin/scheduler+queue+size+and+resilience+to+heavy+IO *

http://yoshinorimatsunobu.blogspot.com/2009/04/linux-io-scheduler-queue-size-and.html *

http://talk.maemo.org/showthread.php?t=69973 ***

http://www.redhat.com/magazine/008jun05/features/schedulers/ **

http://www.softpanorama.org/Commercial_linuxes/Performance_tuning/disk_subsystem_tuning.shtml

http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/wikis/display/LinuxP/Performance+Tuning

http://docs.redhat.com/docs/en-US/Red_Hat_Enterprise_Linux/5/html/Oracle_Tuning_Guide/RHELTuningandOptimizationforOracleV11.pdf***********

http://www.redhat.com/f/pdf/summit/RedHatEnterprisePerfTuning.pdf *******

http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/redpapers/pdfs/redp4285.pdf *******

search on the web:

  • Whitepapers Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 IO Tuning Guide Performance Tuning Whitepaper for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2

http://www.open-mag.com/features/Vol_98/QLogic/QLogic.htm **************

http://filedownloads.qlogic.com/files/ms/74234/R2_QLogic_Edits_SC_VMM2008_PRO_Solution_Brief.pdf

http://searchstorage.techtarget.com/tip/QLogics-2GB-s-switches-missed-the-kudos-they-deserved

http://www.softpanorama.org/Commercial_linuxes/Performance_tuning/troubleshooting_linux_performance_issues.shtml*******

http://www.petroskoutoupis.com/lib/PetrosKoutoupis_EN32009.pdf

http://wikis.sun.com/download/attachments/216507788/03-ST6000-Host-Attach-Linux-RalfWerner.pdf ***

http://kernelnewbies.org/Linux_2_6_32#head-efc263362c0c9f40eb83bb2d5a224057ebf7a59f

http://support.sas.com/resources/papers/proceedings11/72480_RHEL6_Tuning_Tips.pdf

http://www.ufsdump.org/papers/io-tuning.pdf ****

http://www.mjmwired.net/kernel/Documentation/block/deadline-iosched.txt **********

http://kerneltrap.org/node/431 **********

http://docs.redhat.com/docs/pt-BR/Red_Hat_Enterprise_Linux/index.html *

http://support.sas.com/resources/papers/proceedings10/FAQforStorageConfiguration.pdf ***

http://support.sas.com/rnd/papers/sgf07/sgf2007-iosubsystem.pdf ***

http://filedownloads.qlogic.com/files/driver/35491/README_qla2xxx2-6.htm *******

http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infocenter/storwize/ic/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.ibm.storwize.v7000.doc%2Fsvc_linsetqdepth_1dcv4w.html **

http://virtualizationinformation.com/docs/PerformanceTuningVI3withNote.pdf ***

http://www.redhat.com/f/pdf/RHEL4_EQL_ORA10G_v3.pdf ***** benchmarking comparação iSCSI x Fiber Channel

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=85695&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=211206&highlight= **** especificações da qla 2300.

http://www.datasheetarchive.com/qlogic%202300-datasheet.html **** mais especificações da qla 2300

http://www.nextre.it/oracledocs/ioscheduler_01.html ************

http://talk.maemo.org/showthread.php?t=70073 *******

http://www.citrix.nl/site/resources/dynamic/partnerDocs/XSandNetAppstoragebestpractices_7.15.10.pdf Citrix XenServer and NetApp Storage Best Practices

http://docs.vmd.citrix.com/XenServer/5.5.0/1.0/en_gb/reference.htm

http://www.virtualistic.nl/archives/673 The complete Q&A from the Citrix XEN Masterclass webinar