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Re: Reasoning behind process instead of thread based

From: Thomas Hallgren <thhal(at)mailblocks(dot)com>
To: Martijn van Oosterhout <kleptog(at)svana(dot)org>
Cc: Richard_D_Levine(at)raytheon(dot)com, pgsql-general(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: Reasoning behind process instead of thread based
Date: 2004-10-31 12:25:16
Message-ID: (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgsql-general
> I honestly don't think you could really do a much better job of
> scheduling than the kernel. The kernel has a much better idea of what
> processes are waiting on, and more importantly, what other work is
> happening on the same machine that also needs CPU time.
I agree 100% with Martijn. Below is a reply that I sent to Marco some 
days ago, although for some reason it was never received by the mailing 



 > You ask what an event is? An event can be:
 > - input from a connection (usually a new query);
 > - notification that I/O needed by a pending query has completed;
 > - if we don't want a single query starve the server, an alarm of kind
 >   (I think this is a corner case, but still possible;)
 > - something else I haven't thought about.

Sounds very much like a description of the preemption points that a 
user-space thread scheduler would use.

 > At any given moment, there are many pending queries. Most of them
 > will be waiting for I/O to complete. That's how the server handles
 > concurrent users.

In order to determine from where an event origins, say an I/O complete 
event, you need to associate some structure with the I/O operation. That 
structure defines the logical flow of all events for one particular 
session or query, and as such it's not far from a lightweigth thread. 
The only difference is that your "thread" resumes execution in a logical 
sense (from the event loop) rather than a physical program counter 
position. The resource consumption/performance would stay more or less 
the same.

 > (*) They're oriented to general purpose processes. Think of how CPU
 > usage affects relative priorities. In a DB context, there may be
 > other criteria of greater significance. Roughly speaking, the larger
 > the part of the data a single session holds locked, the sooner it should
 > be completed. The kernel has no knowledge of this. To the kernel,
 > "big" processes are those that are using a lot of CPU. And the policy is
 > to slow them down. To a DB, a "big" queries are those that force the most
 > serialization ("lock a lot"), and they should be completed as soon as
 > possible.

Criteria based prioritisation is very interesting but I think your model 
has some flaws:
- Since the kernel has no idea your process servers a lot of sessions 
_it_ will be considered a "big" process.
- If a process/thread will do lots of I/O waits (likely for a "big" 
query) it's unlikely that the kernel will consider it a CPU hog.
- Most big queries are read-only and hence, do not lock a lot of things.
- PostgreSQL uses MVCC which brings the concurrent lock problem down to 
a minimum, even for queries that are not read-only.
- Giving big queries a lot of resources is not the desired behavior in 
many cases.
- Your scheduler is confined to one CPU and cannot react to the system 
as a whole.

I think it is more important that the scheduler can balance _all_ 
sessions among _all_ available resources on the machine.

Thomas Hallgren

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