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Kernel space: ELF prediction to speed application startup

Filed under
Linux

A new technique might make it faster to get started with a large application, by giving the kernel advance notice of what are most likely to be the program's commonly used memory pages.

When the kernel executes a program, it must retrieve the code from disk, which it normally does by demand paging it in as required by the execution path. If the kernel could somehow know which pages would be needed, it could page them in more efficiently. Andi Kleen has posted an experimental set of patches that do just that.

Programs do not know about their layout on disk, nor is their path through the executable file optimized to reduce seeking, but with some information about which pages will be needed, the kernel can optimize the disk accesses. If one were to gather a list of the pages that get faulted in as a program runs, that information could be saved for future runs. It could then be turned into a bitmap indicating which of the pages should be prefetched.

Once you have such a bitmap, where to store it becomes a problem.

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