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Re: [Xen-devel] Proposed XENMEM_claim_pages hypercall: Analysis of problem and alternate solutions

> From: Andres Lagar-Cavilla [mailto:andreslc@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
> Subject: Re: [Xen-devel] Proposed XENMEM_claim_pages hypercall: Analysis of 
> problem and alternate
> solutions
> Hello,

Happy New Year, Andres!  (yay, I spelled it right this time! ;)

> On Dec 20, 2012, at 11:04 AM, Tim Deegan <tim@xxxxxxx> wrote:
> > I think the point Dan was trying to make is that if you use page-sharing
> > to do overcommit, you can end up with the same problem that self-balloon
> > has: guest activity might consume all your RAM while you're trying to
> > build a new VM.
> >
> > That could be fixed by a 'further hypervisor change' (constraining the
> > total amount of free memory that CoW unsharing can consume).  I suspect
> > that it can also be resolved by using d->max_pages on each shared-memory
> > VM to put a limit on how much memory they can (severally) consume.
> To be completely clear. I don't think we need a separate allocation/list
> of pages/foo to absorb CoW hits. I think the solution is using d->max_pages.
> Sharing will hit that limit and then send a notification via the "sharing"
> (which is actually an enomem) men event ring.

And here is the very crux of our disagreement.

You say "I think the solution is using d->max_pages".  Unless
I misunderstand completely, this means your model is what I've
called the "Citrix model" (because Citrix DMC uses it), in which
d->max_pages is dynamically adjusted regularly for each running
guest based on external inferences by (what I have sarcastically
called) a "omniscient toolstack".

In the Oracle model, d->max_pages is a fixed hard limit set when
the guest is launched; only d->curr_pages dynamically varies across
time (e.g. via in-guest selfballooning).

I reject the omnisicient toolstack model as unimplementable [1]
and, without it, I think you either do need a separate allocation/list,
with all the issues that entails, or you need the proposed
XENMEM_claim_pages hypercall to resolve memory allocation races
(i.e. vs domain creation).

So, please Andres, assume for a moment you have neither "the
solution using d->max_pages" nor "a separate allocation/list".
IIUC if one uses your implementation of page-sharing when d->max_pages
is permanently fixed, it is impossible for a "CoW hit" to result in
exceeding d->max_pages; and so the _only_ time a CoW hit would
result in a toolstack notification and/or host swapping is if
physical memory in the machine is fully allocated.  True?

Now does it make more sense what I and Konrad (and now Tim)
are trying to point out?


[1] excerpted from my own email at:

> The last 4+ years of my life have been built on the fundamental
> assumption that nobody, not even one guest kernel itself,
> can adequately predict when memory usage is going to spike.
> Accurate inference from an external entity across potentially dozens
> of VMs is IMHO.... well... um... unlikely.  I could be wrong
> but I believe, even in academia, there is no realistic research
> solution proposed for this.  (If I'm wrong, please send a pointer.)

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