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mm: highmem documentation

Document outlining some of the highmem issues, started by me, edited by
David.

Signed-off-by: David Howells <dhowells@redhat.com>
Signed-off-by: Peter Zijlstra <a.p.zijlstra@chello.nl>
Acked-by: Chris Metcalf <cmetcalf@tilera.com>
Cc: Hugh Dickins <hughd@google.com>
Cc: Rik van Riel <riel@redhat.com>
Cc: Ingo Molnar <mingo@elte.hu>
Cc: Thomas Gleixner <tglx@linutronix.de>
Cc: "H. Peter Anvin" <hpa@zytor.com>
Cc: Steven Rostedt <rostedt@goodmis.org>
Cc: Russell King <rmk@arm.linux.org.uk>
Cc: Ralf Baechle <ralf@linux-mips.org>
Cc: David Miller <davem@davemloft.net>
Cc: Paul Mackerras <paulus@samba.org>
Cc: Benjamin Herrenschmidt <benh@kernel.crashing.org>
Signed-off-by: Andrew Morton <akpm@linux-foundation.org>
Signed-off-by: Linus Torvalds <torvalds@linux-foundation.org>
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+
+ ====================
+ HIGH MEMORY HANDLING
+ ====================
+
+By: Peter Zijlstra <a.p.zijlstra@chello.nl>
+
+Contents:
+
+ (*) What is high memory?
+
+ (*) Temporary virtual mappings.
+
+ (*) Using kmap_atomic.
+
+ (*) Cost of temporary mappings.
+
+ (*) i386 PAE.
+
+
+====================
+WHAT IS HIGH MEMORY?
+====================
+
+High memory (highmem) is used when the size of physical memory approaches or
+exceeds the maximum size of virtual memory. At that point it becomes
+impossible for the kernel to keep all of the available physical memory mapped
+at all times. This means the kernel needs to start using temporary mappings of
+the pieces of physical memory that it wants to access.
+
+The part of (physical) memory not covered by a permanent mapping is what we
+refer to as 'highmem'. There are various architecture dependent constraints on
+where exactly that border lies.
+
+In the i386 arch, for example, we choose to map the kernel into every process's
+VM space so that we don't have to pay the full TLB invalidation costs for
+kernel entry/exit. This means the available virtual memory space (4GiB on
+i386) has to be divided between user and kernel space.
+
+The traditional split for architectures using this approach is 3:1, 3GiB for
+userspace and the top 1GiB for kernel space:
+
+ +--------+ 0xffffffff
+ | Kernel |
+ +--------+ 0xc0000000
+ | |
+ | User |
+ | |
+ +--------+ 0x00000000
+
+This means that the kernel can at most map 1GiB of physical memory at any one
+time, but because we need virtual address space for other things - including
+temporary maps to access the rest of the physical memory - the actual direct
+map will typically be less (usually around ~896MiB).
+
+Other architectures that have mm context tagged TLBs can have separate kernel
+and user maps. Some hardware (like some ARMs), however, have limited virtual
+space when they use mm context tags.
+
+
+==========================
+TEMPORARY VIRTUAL MAPPINGS
+==========================
+
+The kernel contains several ways of creating temporary mappings:
+
+ (*) vmap(). This can be used to make a long duration mapping of multiple
+ physical pages into a contiguous virtual space. It needs global
+ synchronization to unmap.
+
+ (*) kmap(). This permits a short duration mapping of a single page. It needs
+ global synchronization, but is amortized somewhat. It is also prone to
+ deadlocks when using in a nested fashion, and so it is not recommended for
+ new code.
+
+ (*) kmap_atomic(). This permits a very short duration mapping of a single
+ page. Since the mapping is restricted to the CPU that issued it, it
+ performs well, but the issuing task is therefore required to stay on that
+ CPU until it has finished, lest some other task displace its mappings.
+
+ kmap_atomic() may also be used by interrupt contexts, since it is does not
+ sleep and the caller may not sleep until after kunmap_atomic() is called.
+
+ It may be assumed that k[un]map_atomic() won't fail.
+
+
+=================
+USING KMAP_ATOMIC
+=================
+
+When and where to use kmap_atomic() is straightforward. It is used when code
+wants to access the contents of a page that might be allocated from high memory
+(see __GFP_HIGHMEM), for example a page in the pagecache. The API has two
+functions, and they can be used in a manner similar to the following:
+
+ /* Find the page of interest. */
+ struct page *page = find_get_page(mapping, offset);
+
+ /* Gain access to the contents of that page. */
+ void *vaddr = kmap_atomic(page);
+
+ /* Do something to the contents of that page. */
+ memset(vaddr, 0, PAGE_SIZE);
+
+ /* Unmap that page. */
+ kunmap_atomic(vaddr);
+
+Note that the kunmap_atomic() call takes the result of the kmap_atomic() call
+not the argument.
+
+If you need to map two pages because you want to copy from one page to
+another you need to keep the kmap_atomic calls strictly nested, like:
+
+ vaddr1 = kmap_atomic(page1);
+ vaddr2 = kmap_atomic(page2);
+
+ memcpy(vaddr1, vaddr2, PAGE_SIZE);
+
+ kunmap_atomic(vaddr2);
+ kunmap_atomic(vaddr1);
+
+
+==========================
+COST OF TEMPORARY MAPPINGS
+==========================
+
+The cost of creating temporary mappings can be quite high. The arch has to
+manipulate the kernel's page tables, the data TLB and/or the MMU's registers.
+
+If CONFIG_HIGHMEM is not set, then the kernel will try and create a mapping
+simply with a bit of arithmetic that will convert the page struct address into
+a pointer to the page contents rather than juggling mappings about. In such a
+case, the unmap operation may be a null operation.
+
+If CONFIG_MMU is not set, then there can be no temporary mappings and no
+highmem. In such a case, the arithmetic approach will also be used.
+
+
+========
+i386 PAE
+========
+
+The i386 arch, under some circumstances, will permit you to stick up to 64GiB
+of RAM into your 32-bit machine. This has a number of consequences:
+
+ (*) Linux needs a page-frame structure for each page in the system and the
+ pageframes need to live in the permanent mapping, which means:
+
+ (*) you can have 896M/sizeof(struct page) page-frames at most; with struct
+ page being 32-bytes that would end up being something in the order of 112G
+ worth of pages; the kernel, however, needs to store more than just
+ page-frames in that memory...
+
+ (*) PAE makes your page tables larger - which slows the system down as more
+ data has to be accessed to traverse in TLB fills and the like. One
+ advantage is that PAE has more PTE bits and can provide advanced features
+ like NX and PAT.
+
+The general recommendation is that you don't use more than 8GiB on a 32-bit
+machine - although more might work for you and your workload, you're pretty
+much on your own - don't expect kernel developers to really care much if things
+come apart.

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