GEM memory DOS (WAS Re: [PATCH 3/3] drm/ttm: under memory pressure minimize the size of memory pool)

Alex Deucher alexdeucher at
Wed Aug 13 09:30:45 PDT 2014

On Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 12:24 PM, Daniel Vetter <daniel at> wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 05:13:56PM +0200, Thomas Hellstrom wrote:
>> On 08/13/2014 03:01 PM, Daniel Vetter wrote:
>> > On Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 02:35:52PM +0200, Thomas Hellstrom wrote:
>> >> On 08/13/2014 12:42 PM, Daniel Vetter wrote:
>> >>> On Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 11:06:25AM +0200, Thomas Hellstrom wrote:
>> >>>> On 08/13/2014 05:52 AM, Jérôme Glisse wrote:
>> >>>>> From: Jérôme Glisse <jglisse at>
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> When experiencing memory pressure we want to minimize pool size so that
>> >>>>> memory we just shrinked is not added back again just as the next thing.
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> This will divide by 2 the maximum pool size for each device each time
>> >>>>> the pool have to shrink. The limit is bumped again is next allocation
>> >>>>> happen after one second since the last shrink. The one second delay is
>> >>>>> obviously an arbitrary choice.
>> >>>> Jérôme,
>> >>>>
>> >>>> I don't like this patch. It adds extra complexity and its usefulness is
>> >>>> highly questionable.
>> >>>> There are a number of caches in the system, and if all of them added
>> >>>> some sort of voluntary shrink heuristics like this, we'd end up with
>> >>>> impossible-to-debug unpredictable performance issues.
>> >>>>
>> >>>> We should let the memory subsystem decide when to reclaim pages from
>> >>>> caches and what caches to reclaim them from.
>> >>> Yeah, artificially limiting your cache from growing when your shrinker
>> >>> gets called will just break the equal-memory pressure the core mm uses to
>> >>> rebalance between all caches when workload changes. In i915 we let
>> >>> everything grow without artificial bounds and only rely upon the shrinker
>> >>> callbacks to ensure we don't consume more than our fair share of available
>> >>> memory overall.
>> >>> -Daniel
>> >> Now when you bring i915 memory usage up, Daniel,
>> >> I can't refrain from bringing up the old user-space unreclaimable kernel
>> >> memory issue, for which gem open is a good example ;) Each time
>> >> user-space opens a gem handle, some un-reclaimable kernel memory is
>> >> allocated, for which there is no accounting, so theoretically I think a
>> >> user can bring a system to unusability this way.
>> >>
>> >> Typically there are various limits on unreclaimable objects like this,
>> >> like open file descriptors, and IIRC the kernel even has an internal
>> >> limit on the number of struct files you initialize, based on the
>> >> available system memory, so dma-buf / prime should already have some
>> >> sort of protection.
>> > Oh yeah, we have zero cgroups limits or similar stuff for gem allocations,
>> > so there's not really a way to isolate gpu memory usage in a sane way for
>> > specific processes. But there's also zero limits on actual gpu usage
>> > itself (timeslices or whatever) so I guess no one asked for this yet.
>> In its simplest form (like in TTM if correctly implemented by drivers)
>> this type of accounting stops non-privileged malicious GPU-users from
>> exhausting all system physical memory causing grief for other kernel
>> systems but not from causing grief for other GPU users. I think that's
>> the minimum level that's intended also for example also for the struct
>> file accounting.
> I think in i915 we're fairly close on that minimal standard - interactions
> with shrinkers and oom logic work decently. It starts to fall apart though
> when we've actually run out of memory - if the real memory hog is a gpu
> process the oom killer won't notice all that memory since it's not
> accounted against processes correctly.
> I don't agree that gpu process should be punished in general compared to
> other subsystems in the kernel. If the user wants to use 90% of all memory
> for gpu tasks then I want to make that possible, even if it means that
> everything else thrashes horribly. And as long as the system recovers and
> rebalances after that gpu memory hog is gone ofc. Iirc ttm currently has a
> fairly arbitrary (tunable) setting to limit system memory consumption, but
> I might be wrong on that.

Yes, it currently limits you to half of memory, but at least we would
like to make it tuneable since there are a lot of user cases where the
user wants to use 90% of memory for GPU tasks at the expense of
everything else.


>> > My comment really was about balancing mm users under the assumption that
>> > they're all unlimited.
>> Yeah, sorry for stealing the thread. I usually bring this up now and
>> again but nowadays with an exponential backoff.
> Oh I'd love to see some cgroups or similar tracking so that server users
> could set sane per-process/user/task limits on how much memory/gpu time
> that group is allowed to consume. It's just that I haven't seen real
> demand for this and so couldn't make the time available to implement it.
> So thus far my goal is to make everything work nicely for unlimited tasks
> right up to the point where the OOM killer needs to step in. Past that
> everything starts to fall apart, but thus far that was good enough for
> desktop usage.
> Maybe WebGL will finally make this important enough so that we can fix it
> for real ...
> -Daniel
> --
> Daniel Vetter
> Software Engineer, Intel Corporation
> +41 (0) 79 365 57 48 -
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