Faster and scalable fast-logger

January 31, 2014

GravatarKazu Yamamoto

Faster and scalable fast-logger

As you may know, Michael and I released a set of packages for WAI 2.0 including Warp 2.x and fast-logger 2.x. They are much faster than their old versions. I will explain how I re-designed fast-logger in this article and how I improved the performance of Warp in the next one.

The coming GHC 7.8 and Handle

One of the coolest features of the coming GHC 7.8 is multicore IO manager. The runtime system of GHC 7.6 or earlier provides parallel GC, efficient memory allocation mechanism and the IO manager. So, a concurrent program complied by GHC 7.6 or earlier should be scaled on a multicore system if the +RTS -Nx command-line option is specified.

Unfortunately, it appeared that this is not the case. This is mainly because the IO manager has several bottlenecks. Andreas Voellmy analyzed the bottlenecks and implemented the multicore IO manager (mainly for Linux). I helped him in testing it and porting it to BSD variants.

If you compile your concurrent program by the coming GHC 7.8, the executable scales on multicores. No modifications are necessary. Just specify the +RTS -Nx option (and -qa -A32m if necessary). It is really nice, isn't it?

However, GHC 7.8 would disclose another bottleneck of your program.

I noticed this when I was trying to get Mighty prepared for GHC 7.8. Mighty 2.x uses the pre-fork technique to scale on multicore systems. That is, Mighty 2.x forks processes according to its configuration file to get over the bottlenecks of the IO manager. If you want to know the pre-fork technique in detail, please read Mighttpd – a High Performance Web Server in Haskell.

I modified Mighty with the pre-fork code removed because it will be not necessary for GHC 7.8. This change made Mighty much simpler. This is why I spent much my time to develop the multicore IO manager. I bumped up the version of Mighty to 3.

Mighty 3 scaled on multicore systems as I expected when logging is off. Unfortunately, Mighty 3 with logging enabled does not scales at all. For instance, I run Mighty 3 with logging on a 12 core machine. The performance of +RTS -N10 is worse than that of +RTS -N1.

Why? That is because fast-logger uses Handle. Since this Handle is shared by all user threads and Handle is protected with MVar, the Handle is a global giant lock!

Re-designing fast-logger

As I wrote in Mighttpd – a High Performance Web Server in Haskell, I tested many ideas when I implemented fast-logger at the beginning. Handle is the fastest among them but the performance of web servers loses 49% if fast-logger is enabled. I did not have other speed-up techniques at that time.

The experiment above reminds me this performance issue of logging. After working with Michael and Andreas, I became familiar with GHC much more in detail. Now I can design new fast-logger.

Logger consists of a buffer, its size, and a reference to a log message queue:

data Logger = Logger (MVar Buffer) !BufSize (IORef LogStr)

A log message is defined as follows:

data LogStr = LogStr !Int Builder

instance Monoid LogStr where
    mempty = LogStr 0 (toBuilder BS.empty)
    LogStr s1 b1 `mappend` LogStr s2 b2 = LogStr (s1 + s2) (b1 <> b2)

That is, log messages are Builder with its length. Because a log message is an instance of Monoid, a log message itself behaves as a queue. We can append a log message to a queue with (<>) in O(1). Atomic append operation is ensured with atomicModifyIORef'.

Here is a simplified code to append a log message to a queue. (Note that pushLog is not disclosed.)

pushLog :: FD -> Logger -> LogStr -> IO ()
pushLog fd logger@(Logger mbuf size ref) nlogmsg@(LogStr nlen nbuilder) = do
    mmsg <- atomicModifyIORef' ref checkBuf
    case mmsg of
        Nothing  -> return ()
        Just msg -> withMVar mbuf $ \buf -> writeLogStr fd buf size msg
    checkBuf ologmsg@(LogStr olen _)
      | size < olen + nlen = (nlogmsg, Just ologmsg)
      | otherwise          = (ologmsg <> nlogmsg, Nothing)

When a log message is appended to a queue, its total length is compared with the current buffer size (in checkBuf). If the total length is bigger than the buffer size, the queue is swapped with the log message. Then, the buffer is locked. The log messages in the old queue are copied into the buffer then the buffer is written into its corresponding file. Otherwise, the log message is just appended to the queue.

Why is this new approach fast? Well, the new one takes a lock only when it flushes its buffer and the locking can be obtained in almost all cases. But the old one tries to take a lock everytime when each message is copied into Handle's buffer.

To my experiment, this is not good enough yet to scale on multicore systems. So, I prepared Logger per core. It is really effective. The API provides the following abstract data type:

data LoggerSet = LoggerSet (Maybe FilePath) (IORef FD) (Array Int Logger)

You can create LoggerSet with the following APIs:

newFileLoggerSet :: BufSize -> FilePath -> IO LoggerSet
newStdoutLoggerSet :: BufSize -> IO LoggerSet
newStderrLoggerSet :: BufSize -> IO LoggerSet

To log a message, pushLogStr is used:

pushLogStr :: LoggerSet -> LogStr -> IO ()

When a user thread calls pushLogStr, a Logger is selected according to the core number on which the thread is running.

The new fast logger loses only about 10% of performance on any numbers of cores.

I would like to thank Michael Snoyman, Toralf Wittner, Tobias Florek, and Gregory Collins for their contributions to fast-logger.


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