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Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2018 11:06:53 -0600
From: Khalid Aziz <>
To: Julian Stecklina <>,
        Linus Torvalds <>
Cc: David Woodhouse <>,
        Konrad Rzeszutek Wilk <>,,,
        Jim Mattson <>,
        Andrew Cooper <>,
        Linux Kernel Mailing List <>,
        Boris Ostrovsky <>,
        linux-mm <>, Thomas Gleixner <>,,,
        Andi Kleen <>,,
        Liran Alon <>, Kees Cook <>,
        Kernel Hardening <>,, Tyler Hicks <>,
        John Haxby <>, Jon Masters <>
Subject: Re: Redoing eXclusive Page Frame Ownership (XPFO) with isolated CPUs
 in mind (for KVM to isolate its guests per CPU)

On 09/12/2018 09:37 AM, Julian Stecklina wrote:
> Julian Stecklina <> writes:
>> Linus Torvalds <> writes:
>>> On Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 12:45 AM Julian Stecklina <> wrote:
>>>> I've been spending some cycles on the XPFO patch set this week. For the
>>>> patch set as it was posted for v4.13, the performance overhead of
>>>> compiling a Linux kernel is ~40% on x86_64[1]. The overhead comes almost
>>>> completely from TLB flushing. If we can live with stale TLB entries
>>>> allowing temporary access (which I think is reasonable), we can remove
>>>> all TLB flushing (on x86). This reduces the overhead to 2-3% for
>>>> kernel compile.
>>> I have to say, even 2-3% for a kernel compile sounds absolutely horrendous.
>> Well, it's at least in a range where it doesn't look hopeless.
>>> Kernel bullds are 90% user space at least for me, so a 2-3% slowdown
>>> from a kernel is not some small unnoticeable thing.
>> The overhead seems to come from the hooks that XPFO adds to
>> alloc/free_pages. These hooks add a couple of atomic operations per
>> allocated (4K) page for book keeping. Some of these atomic ops are only
>> for debugging and could be removed. There is also some opportunity to
>> streamline the per-page space overhead of XPFO.
> I've updated my XPFO branch[1] to make some of the debugging optional
> and also integrated the XPFO bookkeeping with struct page, instead of
> requiring CONFIG_PAGE_EXTENSION, which removes some checks in the hot
> path. These changes push the overhead down to somewhere between 1.5 and
> 2% for my quad core box in kernel compile. This is close to the
> measurement noise, so I take suggestions for a better benchmark here.
> Of course, if you hit contention on the xpfo spinlock then performance
> will suffer. I guess this is what happened on Khalid's large box.
> I'll try to remove the spinlocks and add fixup code to the pagefault
> handler to see whether this improves the situation on large boxes. This
> might turn out to be ugly, though.

Hi Julian,

I ran tests with your updated code and gathered lock statistics. Change in system time for "make -j60" was in the noise margin (It actually went up by about 2%). There is some contention on xpfo_lock. Average wait time does not look high compared to other locks. Max hold time looks a little long. From /proc/lock_stat:

              &(&page->xpfo_lock)->rlock:         29698          29897           0.06         134.39       15345.58           0.51      422474670      960222532           0.05       30362.05   195807002.62           0.20

Nevertheless even a smaller average wait time can add up.


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