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Re: [Qemu-devel] Kernel memory allocation debugging with Qemu

From: Paul Brook
Subject: Re: [Qemu-devel] Kernel memory allocation debugging with Qemu
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2008 21:47:22 +0000
User-agent: KMail/1.9.7

On Friday 08 February 2008, Blue Swirl wrote:
> On 2/8/08, Paul Brook <address@hidden> wrote:
> > > The patch takes a half of the memory and slows down the system. I
> > > think Qemu could be used instead. A channel (IO/MMIO) is created
> > > between the memory allocator in target kernel and Qemu running in the
> > > host. Memory allocator tells the allocated area to Qemu using the
> > > channel. Qemu changes the physical memory mapping for the area to
> > > special memory that will report any reads before writes back to
> > > allocator. Writes change the memory back to standard RAM. The
> > > performance would be comparable to Qemu in general and host kernel +
> > > Qemu only take a few MB of the memory. The system would be directly
> > > usable for other OSes as well.
> >
> > The qemu implementation isn't actually any more space efficient than the
> > in-kernel implementation. You still need the same amount of bookkeeping
> > ram. In both cases it should be possible to reduce the overhead from 1/2
> > to 1/9 by using a bitmask rather than whole bytes.
> Qemu would not track all memory, only the regions that kmalloc() have
> given to other kernel that have not yet been written to.

Memory still has the be tracked after it has been written to.  You can only 
stop tracking after the whole page has been written to, and there's no easy 
way to determine when that is.  The kernel actually has better information 
about this because it can replace the clear/copy_page routines.

If you're only trying to track things with page granularity then that's a much 
easier problem.

> > Performance is a less clear. A qemu implementation probably causes less
> > relative slowdown than an in-kernel implementation. However it's still
> > going to be significantly slower than normal qemu.  Remember that any
> > checked access is going to have to go through the slow case in the TLB
> > lookup. Any optimizations that are applicable to one implementation can
> > probably also be applied to the other.
> Again, we are not trapping all accesses. The fast case should be used
> for most kernel accesses and all of userland.

Ok. So all the accesses that the in-kernel implementation intercepts.  That's 
obviously a significant number. If it wasn't then performance wouldn't 

The number of accesses intercepted and amount of bookkeeping required should 
be the same in both cases. The only difference is the runtime overhead when 
an access in intercepted.  qemu goes through the slow-path softmmu routines, 
the in kernel implementation takes a pagefault+singlestep.


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