[ltt-dev] LTTng 0.146, adds extra read-side sub-buffer for flight recorder

Steven Rostedt rostedt at goodmis.org
Tue Jul 14 18:33:39 EDT 2009

On Mon, 13 Jul 2009, Mathieu Desnoyers wrote:

> Hi,
> So, I needed a weekend break from writing my thesis (It's almost over!) ;)
> and I had the great idea to try to come up with a way to ensure that
> LTTng flight recorder mode permits to have a read-side that never sees
> corrupted data.
> Basically, this is the main thing Steven have been asking me for a
> while. And it looks like I just figured out a way to do it.
> So for flight recorder tracing, this new LTTng version allocates an
> extra subbuffer which gets exchanged by the reader with the writer
> subbuffer before it gets read.
> Normal tracing does not need this extra subbuffer, because the
> write-side just drops events when the buffer is full. So we don't
> allocate it and we don't perform any exchange. The space
> reservation/commit code plays nicely with both flight recorder and
> normal tracing schemes.
> Here is how I did it:
> No modification was required to the buffer space reservation/commit
> algorithm. I just had to do the following at the backend level
> (responsible for writing data to/reader data from the buffer):
> I am using an array of pointers (one pointer for each subbuffer), plus a
> pointer to the reader subbuffer. Each of these pointers are pointing to
> an array of pages, which are all the pages that constitute a subbuffer.
> Reads/writes from/to the buffer are done by accessors which pick up the
> right page location within this page table. By modifying the top-level
> subbuffer pointer, we can swap a whole subbuffer in a single operation.
> There is a trick to deal with concurrency between writer and reader.
> When the top-level subbuffer pointers are not used (no writer is
> currently writing into it, no reader is reading from its subbuffer), we
> set a RCHAN_NOREF_FLAG (value: 0x1) which indicates that no reference is
> currently taken to this subbuffer. As long as this flag is set in the
> pointer, it is safe for the reader to exchange it. When the writer needs
> to access this subbuffer for writing, it clears the flag, and sets it
> back after committing the last piece of data to it.
> When the reader figures out that the write-side subbuffer it is trying
> to exchange has a reference, it fails with -EAGAIN.
> Nice things about the way I do it here:
> - I keep the separation between the space reservation layer and back-end
>   buffer layer. The extra reader subbuffer exchange is done at the
>   back-end layer. The reason why it took me so long to try to come up
>   with something is that I tried to do it at the space reservation
>   layer, which was not fitting well the space reservation semantics.
> - Keeping space reservation and physical buffer management separate
>   helps splitting complexity into sub-layers easier to verify.
> - Given the space reservation/commit is separate from the subbuffer
>   exchange per se, I don't need any special-cases for "if the tail
>   pointer is in the reader page".... these things never happen because
>   the reserve, commit and consumed counts are completely unrelated to
>   the pointers to physical subbuffers.

I don't yet have time to read the patches (not this week, anyway), but I'm 
assuming that you can only get the new page (swap) while a writer is not 
writing to it. Thus if it is not a full page, then you must either copy 
the data, or swap out a non full page. Not complaining here, just trying 
to understand it :-)

Thus the trick is that you have a series of pointers to the data, and you 
swap out the data and not the list?  Hmm, actually the ring buffer is 
already like that and I probably could do the same.

Here's another thing that the ring buffer does (and makes things a little 
complex too) is that it keeps track of the number of entries in the buffer 
as well as the number of overruns. The number of entries in the page is 
kept in the list data and not the data page itself.

Using a special flag to switch out the data instead of breaking the link 
list may make things much simpler.

Hmm, I'll take a round to make the ring buffer closer to what you have 
done. At this rate, we may finally merge the two to handle things that we 
both need ;-)

-- Steve

> As always, the tree is available at:
> http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/compudj/linux-2.6-lttng.git
> git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/compudj/linux-2.6-lttng.git
> The commits implementing this the extra reader page for the lockless
> scheme are:
> lttng-relay-per-subbuffer-index.patch
> lttng-relay-per-subbuffer-index-low-bit-noref.patch
> lttng-relay-lockless-writer-use-noref-flag.patch
> lttng-relay-default-sb-index-to-noref.patch
> lttng-relay-lockless-exchange-reader-writer-pages.patch
> Comments are welcome,
> Thanks,
> Mathieu
> -- 
> Mathieu Desnoyers
> OpenPGP key fingerprint: 8CD5 52C3 8E3C 4140 715F  BA06 3F25 A8FE 3BAE 9A68

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