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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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Next: 9.4 Sizes Cache Up: 9. Slab Allocator Previous: 9.2 Slabs   Contents   Index


9.3 Objects

This section will cover how objects are managed. At this point, most of the really hard work has been completed by either the cache or slab managers.

9.3.1 Initialising Objects in a Slab

When a slab is created, all the objects in it are put in an initialised state. If a constructor is available, it is called for each object and it is expected that objects are left in an initialised state upon free. Conceptually the initialisation is very simple, cycle through all objects and call the constructor and initialise the kmem_bufctl for it. The function kmem_cache_init_objs() is responsible for initialising the objects.

9.3.2 Object Allocation

The function kmem_cache_alloc() is responsible for allocating one object to the caller which behaves slightly different in the UP and SMP cases. Figure 9.13 shows the basic call graph that is used to allocate an object in the SMP case.

Figure 9.13: Call Graph: kmem_cache_alloc()

There are four basic steps. The first step (kmem_cache_alloc_head()) covers basic checking to make sure the allocation is allowable. The second step is to select which slabs list to allocate from. This will be one of slabs_partial or slabs_free. If there are no slabs in slabs_free, the cache is grown (see Section 9.2.2) to create a new slab in slabs_free. The final step is to allocate the object from the selected slab.

The SMP case takes one further step. Before allocating one object, it will check to see if there is one available from the per-CPU cache and will use it if there is. If there is not, it will allocate batchcount number of objects in bulk and place them in its per-cpu cache. See Section 9.5 for more information on the per-cpu caches.

9.3.3 Object Freeing

kmem_cache_free() is used to free objects and it has a relatively simple task. Just like kmem_cache_alloc(), it behaves differently in the UP and SMP cases. The principal difference between the two cases is that in the UP case, the object is returned directly to the slab but with the SMP case, the object is returned to the per-cpu cache. In both cases, the destructor for the object will be called if one is available. The destructor is responsible for returning the object to the initialised state.

next up previous contents index
Next: 9.4 Sizes Cache Up: 9. Slab Allocator Previous: 9.2 Slabs   Contents   Index
Mel 2004-02-15

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