[PATCH 19/19] Documentation/vm: add pin_user_pages.rst

John Hubbard jhubbard at nvidia.com
Wed Oct 30 22:49:30 UTC 2019

Document the new pin_user_pages() and related calls
and behavior.

Thanks to Jan Kara and Vlastimil Babka for explaining the 4 cases
in this documentation. (I've reworded it and expanded on it slightly.)

Cc: Jonathan Corbet <corbet at lwn.net>
Signed-off-by: John Hubbard <jhubbard at nvidia.com>
 Documentation/vm/index.rst          |   1 +
 Documentation/vm/pin_user_pages.rst | 213 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 2 files changed, 214 insertions(+)
 create mode 100644 Documentation/vm/pin_user_pages.rst

diff --git a/Documentation/vm/index.rst b/Documentation/vm/index.rst
index e8d943b21cf9..7194efa3554a 100644
--- a/Documentation/vm/index.rst
+++ b/Documentation/vm/index.rst
@@ -44,6 +44,7 @@ descriptions of data structures and algorithms.
+   pin_user_pages
diff --git a/Documentation/vm/pin_user_pages.rst b/Documentation/vm/pin_user_pages.rst
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..7110bca3f188
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/vm/pin_user_pages.rst
@@ -0,0 +1,213 @@
+.. SPDX-License-Identifier: GPL-2.0
+pin_user_pages() and related calls
+.. contents:: :local:
+This document describes the following functions: ::
+ pin_user_pages
+ pin_user_pages_fast
+ pin_user_pages_remote
+ pin_longterm_pages
+ pin_longterm_pages_fast
+ pin_longterm_pages_remote
+Basic description of FOLL_PIN
+A new flag for get_user_pages ("gup") has been added: FOLL_PIN. FOLL_PIN has
+significant interactions and interdependencies with FOLL_LONGTERM, so both are
+covered here.
+Both FOLL_PIN and FOLL_LONGTERM are "internal" to gup, meaning that neither
+FOLL_PIN nor FOLL_LONGTERM should not appear at the gup call sites. This allows
+the associated wrapper functions  (pin_user_pages and others) to set the correct
+combination of these flags, and to check for problems as well.
+FOLL_PIN and FOLL_GET are mutually exclusive for a given gup call. However,
+multiple threads and call sites are free to pin the same struct pages, via both
+FOLL_PIN and FOLL_GET. It's just the call site that needs to choose one or the
+other, not the struct page(s).
+The FOLL_PIN implementation is nearly the same as FOLL_GET, except that FOLL_PIN
+uses a different reference counting technique.
+FOLL_PIN is a prerequisite to FOLL_LONGTGERM. Another way of saying that is,
+FOLL_LONGTERM is a specific case, more restrictive case of FOLL_PIN.
+Which flags are set by each wrapper
+Only FOLL_PIN and FOLL_LONGTERM are covered here. These flags are added to
+whatever flags the caller provides::
+ Function                    gup flags (FOLL_PIN or FOLL_LONGTERM only)
+ --------                    ------------------------------------------
+ pin_user_pages              FOLL_PIN
+ pin_user_pages_fast         FOLL_PIN
+ pin_user_pages_remote       FOLL_PIN
+ pin_longterm_pages          FOLL_PIN | FOLL_LONGTERM
+ pin_longterm_pages_fast     FOLL_PIN | FOLL_LONGTERM
+ pin_longterm_pages_remote   FOLL_PIN | FOLL_LONGTERM
+Tracking dma-pinned pages
+Some of the key design constraints, and solutions, for tracking dma-pinned
+* An actual reference count, per struct page, is required. This is because
+  multiple processes may pin and unpin a page.
+* False positives (reporting that a page is dma-pinned, when in fact it is not)
+  are acceptable, but false negatives are not.
+* struct page may not be increased in size for this, and all fields are already
+  used.
+* Given the above, we can overload the page->_refcount field by using, sort of,
+  the upper bits in that field for a dma-pinned count. "Sort of", means that,
+  rather than dividing page->_refcount into bit fields, we simple add a medium-
+  large value (GUP_PIN_COUNTING_BIAS, initially chosen to be 1024: 10 bits) to
+  page->_refcount. This provides fuzzy behavior: if a page has get_page() called
+  on it 1024 times, then it will appear to have a single dma-pinned count.
+  And again, that's acceptable.
+This also leads to limitations: there are only 32-10==22 bits available for a
+counter that increments 10 bits at a time.
+TODO: for 1GB and larger huge pages, this is cutting it close. That's because
+when pin_user_pages() follows such pages, it increments the head page by "1"
+(where "1" used to mean "+1" for get_user_pages(), but now means "+1024" for
+pin_user_pages()) for each tail page. So if you have a 1GB huge page:
+* There are 256K (18 bits) worth of 4 KB tail pages.
+* There are 22 bits available to count up via GUP_PIN_COUNTING_BIAS (that is,
+  10 bits at a time)
+* There are 22 - 18 == 4 bits available to count. Except that there aren't,
+  because you need to allow for a few normal get_page() calls on the head page,
+  as well. Fortunately, the approach of using addition, rather than "hard"
+  bitfields, within page->_refcount, allows for sharing these bits gracefully.
+  But we're still looking at about 16 references.
+This, however, is a missing feature more than anything else, because it's easily
+solved by addressing an obvious inefficiency in the original get_user_pages()
+approach of retrieving pages: stop treating all the pages as if they were
+PAGE_SIZE. Retrieve huge pages as huge pages. The callers need to be aware of
+this, so some work is required. Once that's in place, this limitation mostly
+disappears from view, because there will be ample refcounting range available.
+* Callers must specifically request "dma-pinned tracking of pages". In other
+  words, just calling get_user_pages() will not suffice; a new set of functions,
+  pin_user_page() and related, must be used.
+FOLL_PIN, FOLL_GET, FOLL_LONGTERM: when to use which flags
+Thanks to Jan Kara, Vlastimil Babka and several other -mm people, for describing
+these categories:
+CASE 1: Direct IO (DIO)
+There are GUP references to pages that are serving
+as DIO buffers. These buffers are needed for a relatively short time (so they
+are not "long term"). No special synchronization with page_mkclean() or
+munmap() is provided. Therefore, flags to set at the call site are: ::
+...but rather than setting FOLL_PIN directly, call sites should use one of
+the pin_user_pages*() routines that set FOLL_PIN.
+There are GUP references to pages that are serving as DMA
+buffers. These buffers are needed for a long time ("long term"). No special
+synchronization with page_mkclean() or munmap() is provided. Therefore, flags
+to set at the call site are: ::
+TODO: There is also a special case when the pages are DAX pages: in addition to
+the above flags, the caller needs something like a layout lease on the
+associated file. This is yet to be implemented. When it is implemented, it's
+expected that the lease will be a prerequisite to setting FOLL_LONGTERM.
+(Mellanox/Infiniband On Demand Paging: the hardware supports
+replayable page faulting). There are GUP references to pages serving as DMA
+buffers. For ODP, MMU notifiers are used to synchronize with page_mkclean()
+and munmap(). Therefore, normal GUP calls are sufficient, so neither flag
+needs to be set.
+CASE 4: Pinning for struct page manipulation only
+Here, normal GUP calls are sufficient, so neither flag needs to be set.
+page_dma_pinned(): the whole point of pinning
+The whole point of marking pages as "DMA-pinned" or "gup-pinned" is to be able
+to query, "is this page DMA-pinned?" That allows code such as page_mkclean()
+(and file system writeback code in general) to make informed decisions about
+what to do when a page cannot be unmapped due to such pins.
+What to do in those cases is the subject of a years-long series of discussions
+and debates (see the References at the end of this document). It's a TODO item
+here: fill in the details once that's worked out. Meanwhile, it's safe to say
+that having this available: ::
+        static inline bool page_dma_pinned(struct page *page)
+...is a prerequisite to solving the long-running gup+DMA problem.
+Another way of thinking about FOLL_GET, FOLL_PIN, and FOLL_LONGTERM
+Another way of thinking about these flags is as a progression of restrictions:
+FOLL_GET is for struct page manipulation, without affecting the data that the
+struct page refers to. FOLL_PIN is a *replacement* for FOLL_GET, and is for
+short term pins on pages whose data *will* get accessed. As such, FOLL_PIN is
+a "more severe" form of pinning. And finally, FOLL_LONGTERM is an even more
+restrictive case that has FOLL_PIN as a prerequisite: this is for pages that
+will be pinned longterm, and whose data will be accessed.
+Unit testing
+This file::
+ tools/testing/selftests/vm/gup_benchmark.c
+has the following new calls to exercise the new pin*() wrapper functions:
+* PIN_FAST_BENCHMARK (./gup_benchmark -a)
+* PIN_LONGTERM_BENCHMARK (./gup_benchmark -a)
+* PIN_BENCHMARK (./gup_benchmark -a)
+You can monitor how many total dma-pinned pages have been acquired and released
+since the system was booted, via two new /proc/vmstat entries: ::
+    /proc/vmstat/nr_foll_pin_requested
+    /proc/vmstat/nr_foll_pin_requested
+Those are both going to show zero, unless CONFIG_DEBUG_VM is set. This is
+because there is a noticeable performance drop in put_user_page(), when they
+are activated.
+* `Some slow progress on get_user_pages() (Apr 2, 2019) <https://lwn.net/Articles/784574/>`_
+* `DMA and get_user_pages() (LPC: Dec 12, 2018) <https://lwn.net/Articles/774411/>`_
+* `The trouble with get_user_pages() (Apr 30, 2018) <https://lwn.net/Articles/753027/>`_
+John Hubbard, October, 2019

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