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After this documentation was released in July 2003, I was approached by Prentice Hall and asked to write a book on the Linux VM under the Bruce Peren's Open Book Series.

The book is available and called simply "Understanding The Linux Virtual Memory Manager". There is a lot of additional material in the book that is not available here, including details on later 2.4 kernels, introductions to 2.6, a whole new chapter on the shared memory filesystem, coverage of TLB management, a lot more code commentary, countless other additions and clarifications and a CD with lots of cool stuff on it. This material (although now dated and lacking in comparison to the book) will remain available although I obviously encourge you to buy the book from your favourite book store :-) . As the book is under the Bruce Perens Open Book Series, it will be available 90 days after appearing on the book shelves which means it is not available right now. When it is available, it will be downloadable from http://www.phptr.com/perens so check there for more information.

To be fully clear, this webpage is not the actual book.
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12.3 Allocating a swap slot

All page sized slots are tracked by the array swap_info_struct$\rightarrow$swap_map which is of type unsigned short. Each entry is a reference count of the number of users of the slot which happens in the case of a shared page and is 0 when free. If the entry is SWAP_MAP_MAX, the page is permanently reserved for that slot. It is unlikely, if not impossible, for this condition to occur but it exists to ensure the reference count does not overflow. If the entry is SWAP_MAP_BAD, the slot is unusable.

Figure 12.2: Call Graph: get_swap_page()

The task of finding and allocating a swap entry is divided into two major tasks. The first performed by the high level function get_swap_page(). Starting with swap_list$\rightarrow$next, it searches swap areas for a suitable slot. Once a slot has been found, it records what the next swap area to be used will be and returns the allocated entry.

The task of searching the map is the responsibility of scan_swap_map(). In principle, it is very simple as it linearly scan the array for a free slot and return. Predictably, the implementation is a bit more thorough.

Linux attempts to organise pages into clusters on disk of size SWAPFILE_CLUSTER. It allocates SWAPFILE_CLUSTER number of pages sequentially in swap keeping count of the number of sequentially allocated pages in swap_info_struct$\rightarrow$cluster_nr and records the current offset in swap_info_struct$\rightarrow$cluster_next. Once a sequential block has been allocated, it searches for a block of free entries of size SWAPFILE_CLUSTER. If a block large enough can be found, it will be used as another cluster sized sequence.

If no free clusters large enough can be found in the swap area, a simple first-free search starting from swap_info_struct$\rightarrow$lowest_bit is performed. The aim is to have pages swapped out at the same time close together on the premise that pages swapped out together are related. This premise, which seems strange at first glance, is quite solid when it is considered that the page replacement algorithm will use swap space most when linearly scanning the process address space swapping out pages. Without scanning for large free blocks and using them, it is likely that the scanning would degenerate to first-free searches and never improve. With it, processes exiting are likely to free up large blocks of slots.

next up previous contents index
Next: 12.4 Swap Cache Up: 12. Swap Management Previous: 12.2 Mapping Page Table   Contents   Index
Mel 2004-02-15