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Subject: Re: [virtio-dev] packed ring layout proposal

On 19/09/2016 19:15, Michael S. Tsirkin wrote:
> On Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 02:01:57PM +0200, Paolo Bonzini wrote:
>> The main issue with VRING_DESC_F_INDIRECT, at least as it is implemented
>> in Linux, is the cost of allocating and freeing the indirect descriptor.
>>  But if you know that the number of descriptor is fixed (e.g. 2 for
>> request header + data) you can pre-allocate the descriptors with a 1:1
>> relationship with the entries of the ring buffer.  This might be useful
>> for the virtio-net tx ring.
> Yes, I've been thinking the same thing. Is there any advantage
> to have the indirect addresses pre-programmed as
> opposed to stored in the descriptors?
> In theory
> 	if (desc.flags & indirect)
> 		use(*address[i])
> might be speculated as compared to
> 	if (desc.flags & indirect)
> 		use(*desc.addr)
> which can't.
> But OTOH this might add to cache pressure as desc is already in cache
> anyway.

Yes, I think this would be the worst of both worlds. :)

If the driver knows it has 2 descriptors per request, it could allocate
a big block in advance and do for example

	struct {
		// pre-allocated and pre-initialized
		// to point to ->hdr
		struct virtio_desc req_desc;
		// only flags prefilled
		struct virtio_desc data_desc;
		struct req_header  hdr;
	} *indirect_data;

	i = index++ & (size - 1);
	indirect_addr = &indirect_data[i];
	indirect_data[i]->data_desc.addr = this_data_addr;
	indirect_data[i]->data_desc.len = this_data_len;
	// ... fill in indirect_data[i]->hdr ...

	desc[i].addr = indirect_addr;
	desc[i].index = i | DESC_HW;

where there is no need for an array of descriptor addresses,
&indirect_data[i].  As long as the indirect_data size is a power of 2,
indirect_data needn't even be physically contiguous.

But I prefer all these tricks to be hidden within the driver.  It seems
a good idea in the beginning to rig the device to second-guess what a
driver could do, but then it makes things awkward.  (This is also why
I'd rather get rid of VRING_DESC_F_NEXT).

> If all descriptors are known ahead of the time to be indirect we could
> pack more of them per cache line by dropping addr (and maybe len?).
> This might work well for virtio blk.

Nope, virtio-blk doesn't know at all the size of the sg list (for
small-I/O workloads it is always 2, but potentially unlimited).  For the
above ideas I was thinking of the virtio tx header (but only for
MTU=1500, as Stephen pointed out).


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