This is an archived copy of the Xen.org mailing list, which we have preserved to ensure that existing links to archives are not broken. The live archive, which contains the latest emails, can be found at http://lists.xen.org/
Home Products Support Community News


Re: [Xen-devel] [RFC] Xen NUMA strategy

To: Andre Przywara <andre.przywara@xxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: [Xen-devel] [RFC] Xen NUMA strategy
From: Aron Griffis <aron@xxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2007 10:31:29 -0400
Cc: xen-devel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "Xu, Anthony" <anthony.xu@xxxxxxxxx>
Delivery-date: Tue, 18 Sep 2007 07:31:57 -0700
Envelope-to: www-data@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
In-reply-to: <46EA7906.2010504@xxxxxxx>
List-help: <mailto:xen-devel-request@lists.xensource.com?subject=help>
List-id: Xen developer discussion <xen-devel.lists.xensource.com>
List-post: <mailto:xen-devel@lists.xensource.com>
List-subscribe: <http://lists.xensource.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/xen-devel>, <mailto:xen-devel-request@lists.xensource.com?subject=subscribe>
List-unsubscribe: <http://lists.xensource.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/xen-devel>, <mailto:xen-devel-request@lists.xensource.com?subject=unsubscribe>
Mail-followup-to: Andre Przywara <andre.przywara@xxxxxxx>, xen-devel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "Xu, Anthony" <anthony.xu@xxxxxxxxx>
References: <46EA7906.2010504@xxxxxxx>
Sender: xen-devel-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.16 (2007-06-11)
Hi Andre,

Andre Przywara wrote:  [Fri Sep 14 2007, 08:05:26AM EDT]
> We came up with two different approaches for better NUMA support in Xen:
> 1.) Guest NUMA support: spread a guest's resources (CPUs and memory) over 
> several nodes and propagate the appropriate topology to the guest.
> The first part of this is in the patches I sent recently to the list (PV 
> support is following, bells and whistles like automatic placement will 
> follow, too.).

It seems like you are proposing two things at once here.  Let's call
these 1a and 1b

1a. Expose NUMA topology to the guests.  This isn't the topology of
    dom0, just the topology of the domU, i.e. it is constructed by
    dom0 when starting the domain.

1b. Spread the guest over nodes.  I can't tell if you mean to do this
    automatically or by request when starting the guest.  This seems
    to be separate from 1a.

>       ***Advantages***:
> - The guest OS has better means to deal with the NUMA setup, it can more 
> easily migrate _processes_ among the nodes (Xen-HV can only migrate whole 
> domains).
> - Changes to Xen are relatively small.
> - There is no limit for the guest resources, since they can use more 
> resources than there are on one node.

The advantages above relate to 1a

> - If guests are well spread over the nodes, the system is more balanced 
> even if guests are destroyed and created later.

and this advantage relates to 1b

>       ***Disadvantages***:
> - The guest has to support NUMA. This is not true for older guests (Win2K, 
> older Linux).
> - The guest's workload has to fit NUMA. If the guests tasks are merely 
> parallelizable or use much shared memory, they cannot take advantage of 
> NUMA and will degrade in performance. This includes all single task 
> problems.

IMHO the list of disadvantages is only what we have in xen today.
Presently no guests can see the NUMA topology, so it's the same as if
they don't have support in the guest.  Adding NUMA topology
propogation does not create these disadvantages, it simply exposes the
weakness of the lesser operating systems.

> In general this approach seems to fit better with smaller NUMA nodes
> and larger guests.
> 2.) Dynamic load balancing and page migration: create guests within one 
> NUMA node and distribute all guests across the nodes. If the system becomes 
> imbalanced, migrate guests to other nodes and copy (at least part of) their 
> memory pages to the other node's local memory.

Again, this seems like a two-part proposal.

2a. Add to xen the ability to run a guest within a node, so that cpus
    and ram are allocated from within the node instead of randomly
    across the system.

2b. NUMA balancing.  While this seems like a worthwhile goal, IMHO
    it's separate from the first part of the proposal.

>       ***Advantages***:
> - No guest NUMA support necessary. Older as well a recent guests should run 
> fine.
> - Smaller guests don't have to cope with NUMA and will have 'flat' memory 
> available.
> - Guests running on separate nodes usually don't disturb each other and can 
> benefit from the higher distributed memory bandwidth.
>       ***Disadvantages***:
> - Guests are limited to the resources available on one node. This applies 
> for both the number of CPUs and the amount of memory.

Advantages and disadvantages above apply to 2a

> - Costly migration of guests. In a simple implementation we'd use live 
> migration, which requires the whole guest's memory to be copied before the 
> guest starts to run on the other node. If this whole move proves to be 
> unnecessary a few minutes later, all this was in vain. A more advanced 
> implementation would do the page migration in the background and thus can 
> avoid this problem, if only the hot pages are migrated first.

This applies to 2b

> - Integration into Xen seems to be more complicated (at least for the more 
> ungifted hackers among us).

It seems like 2a would be significantly easier than 2b

If the mechanics of migrating between NUMA nodes is implemented in the
hypervisor, then policy and control can be implemented in dom0
userland, so none of the automatic part of this needs to be in the

Thanks for getting started on this.  Getting some of this into Xen
would be great!


Xen-devel mailing list