mm: introduce MADV_COLD

Patch series "Introduce MADV_COLD and MADV_PAGEOUT", v7.

- Background

The Android terminology used for forking a new process and starting an app
from scratch is a cold start, while resuming an existing app is a hot
start.  While we continually try to improve the performance of cold
starts, hot starts will always be significantly less power hungry as well
as faster so we are trying to make hot start more likely than cold start.

To increase hot start, Android userspace manages the order that apps
should be killed in a process called ActivityManagerService. 
ActivityManagerService tracks every Android app or service that the user
could be interacting with at any time and translates that into a ranked
list for lmkd(low memory killer daemon).  They are likely to be killed by
lmkd if the system has to reclaim memory.  In that sense they are similar
to entries in any other cache.  Those apps are kept alive for
opportunistic performance improvements but those performance improvements
will vary based on the memory requirements of individual workloads.

- Problem

Naturally, cached apps were dominant consumers of memory on the system. 
However, they were not significant consumers of swap even though they are
good candidate for swap.  Under investigation, swapping out only begins
once the low zone watermark is hit and kswapd wakes up, but the overall
allocation rate in the system might trip lmkd thresholds and cause a
cached process to be killed(we measured performance swapping out vs. 
zapping the memory by killing a process.  Unsurprisingly, zapping is 10x
times faster even though we use zram which is much faster than real
storage) so kill from lmkd will often satisfy the high zone watermark,
resulting in very few pages actually being moved to swap.

- Approach

The approach we chose was to use a new interface to allow userspace to
proactively reclaim entire processes by leveraging platform information. 
This allowed us to bypass the inaccuracy of the kernel’s LRUs for pages
that are known to be cold from userspace and to avoid races with lmkd by
reclaiming apps as soon as they entered the cached state.  Additionally,
it could provide many chances for platform to use much information to
optimize memory efficiency.

To achieve the goal, the patchset introduce two new options for madvise. 
One is MADV_COLD which will deactivate activated pages and the other is
MADV_PAGEOUT which will reclaim private pages instantly.  These new
options complement MADV_DONTNEED and MADV_FREE by adding non-destructive
ways to gain some free memory space.  MADV_PAGEOUT is similar to
MADV_DONTNEED in a way that it hints the kernel that memory region is not
currently needed and should be reclaimed immediately; MADV_COLD is similar
to MADV_FREE in a way that it hints the kernel that memory region is not
currently needed and should be reclaimed when memory pressure rises.

This patch (of 5):

When a process expects no accesses to a certain memory range, it could
give a hint to kernel that the pages can be reclaimed when memory pressure
happens but data should be preserved for future use.  This could reduce
workingset eviction so it ends up increasing performance.

This patch introduces the new MADV_COLD hint to madvise(2) syscall. 
MADV_COLD can be used by a process to mark a memory range as not expected
to be used in the near future.  The hint can help kernel in deciding which
pages to evict early during memory pressure.

It works for every LRU pages like MADV_[DONTNEED|FREE]. IOW, It moves

	active file page -> inactive file LRU
	active anon page -> inacdtive anon LRU

Unlike MADV_FREE, it doesn't move active anonymous pages to inactive file
LRU's head because MADV_COLD is a little bit different symantic. 
MADV_FREE means it's okay to discard when the memory pressure because the
content of the page is *garbage* so freeing such pages is almost zero
overhead since we don't need to swap out and access afterward causes just
minor fault.  Thus, it would make sense to put those freeable pages in
inactive file LRU to compete other used-once pages.  It makes sense for
implmentaion point of view, too because it's not swapbacked memory any
longer until it would be re-dirtied.  Even, it could give a bonus to make
them be reclaimed on swapless system.  However, MADV_COLD doesn't mean
garbage so reclaiming them requires swap-out/in in the end so it's bigger
cost.  Since we have designed VM LRU aging based on cost-model, anonymous
cold pages would be better to position inactive anon's LRU list, not file
LRU.  Furthermore, it would help to avoid unnecessary scanning if system
doesn't have a swap device.  Let's start simpler way without adding
complexity at this moment.  However, keep in mind, too that it's a caveat
that workloads with a lot of pages cache are likely to ignore MADV_COLD on
anonymous memory because we rarely age anonymous LRU lists.

* man-page material

MADV_COLD (since Linux x.x)

Pages in the specified regions will be treated as less-recently-accessed
compared to pages in the system with similar access frequencies.  In
contrast to MADV_FREE, the contents of the region are preserved regardless
of subsequent writes to pages.

MADV_COLD cannot be applied to locked pages, Huge TLB pages, or VM_PFNMAP

Signed-off-by: Minchan Kim <>
Reported-by: kbuild test robot <>
Acked-by: Michal Hocko <>
Acked-by: Johannes Weiner <>
Cc: James E.J. Bottomley <>
Cc: Richard Henderson <>
Cc: Ralf Baechle <>
Cc: Chris Zankel <>
Cc: Johannes Weiner <>
Cc: Daniel Colascione <>
Cc: Dave Hansen <>
Cc: Hillf Danton <>
Cc: Joel Fernandes (Google) <>
Cc: Kirill A. Shutemov <>
Cc: Oleksandr Natalenko <>
Cc: Shakeel Butt <>
Cc: Sonny Rao <>
Cc: Suren Baghdasaryan <>
Cc: Tim Murray <>
Signed-off-by: Andrew Morton <>
10 files changed