[Codel] [Bloat] Describing fq_codel

Jesper Dangaard Brouer brouer at redhat.com
Sun Feb 9 15:09:38 EST 2014

(top post)

Thank you Toke for this excellent description, it is really good!

AFAIKR Paul also did a description of fq_codel, but with a focus on the
SFQ part.  I actually think, these two descriptions could be combined.
Perhaps Paul can give us a link to his desc?

And where do you plan to put this excellent description (so its more
accessible to mankind)?


On Thu, 06 Feb 2014 15:23:03 +0100
Toke Høiland-Jørgensen <toke at toke.dk> wrote:

> I recently had occasion to describe the scheduling mechanism in fq_codel
> in plain text. I thought this might be useful to have for general
> reference somewhere, so I'm posting it here to elicit comments and have
> a plan to post it to the bufferbloat wiki somewhere afterwards.
> See below.
> -Toke
> The fq_codel queueing discipline in Linux is an implementation of a
> somewhat modified stochastic fairness queueing algorithm, with CoDel
> added as an AQM for the individual queues. As such, it consists of two
> parts: the scheduler which selects which queue to dequeue a packet from,
> and the CoDel AQM which works on each of the queues built in to the
> qdisc. The subtleties of fq_codel are mostly in the scheduling part,
> which is the subject of this description. For a description of CoDel,
> refer to Kathy and Van's paper[1].
> The interaction between the scheduler and the CoDel algorithm are fairly
> straight forward: At initiation (i.e. at boot, or when fq_codel is first
> installed on the interface, or its parameters are changed), the list of
> queues is initialised so that each queue has a separate set of CoDel
> state variables. By default, 1024 queues are created, and packets are
> hashed into them at enqueue time. Each queue maintains the CoDel state
> variables throughout its lifetime, and so acts the same as the non-fq
> CoDel variant would (including retaining the control law state when the
> queue drains, etc).
> As for the scheduler, it is different from a straight-forward conceptual
> SFQ scheduler[2] in a number of respects:
> - fq_codel is byte-based, employing a deficit round-robin mechanism[3]
>   between queues. The quantum is configurable, but defaults to the
>   interface MTU. This means that if one flow sends packets of size
>   MTU/3, and another sends MTU-sized packets, the first flow will
>   dequeue three packets each time it gets a turn, whereas the second
>   flow only dequeues one. This is kept track of by maintaining a byte
>   dequeue deficit for each queue, which is first initialised to the
>   quantum value, and decreased by the packet size on each dequeue from
>   the queue.
> - Queue space is shared: there's a global limit on the number of packets
>   the queues can hold, but not one per queue. If the space runs out at
>   enqueue time, the queue with the largest number of *bytes* in it will
>   get a packet dropped. This means that the packet being enqueued will
>   pretty much never be dropped; rather a different packet is dropped,
>   and not necessarily from the same queue. Packets are always dropped
>   from the head of a queue.
> - fq_codel maintains two lists of active queues, called "new" and "old"
>   queues ("new" and "old" being the terms used in the code). When a
>   packet is added to a queue that is not currently active, that queue is
>   added to the list of new queues. This is the source of some subtlety
>   in the packet scheduling at dequeue time, explained below.
> - Most of fq_codel's scheduling is done at packet dequeue time. It
>   consists of three parts: selecting a queue from which to dequeue a
>   packet, actually dequeuing it (employing the CoDel algorithm in the
>   process), and some final bookkeeping.
>   For the first part, the scheduler first looks at the list of new
>   queues; for each queue in that list, if that queue has a negative
>   deficit (i.e. it has already dequeued a quantum of bytes (or more)),
>   its deficit is increased by one quantum, and the queue is put onto the
>   end of the list of old queues, and the routine starts again.
>   Otherwise, that queue is selected for dequeue. If the list of new
>   queues is empty, the scheduler proceeds down the list of old queues in
>   the same fashion (checking the deficit, and either selecting the queue
>   for dequeuing, or increasing the deficit and putting the queue back at
>   the end of the list).
>   After having selected a queue from which to dequeue a packet, the
>   CoDel algorithm is invoked on that queue. This applies the CoDel
>   control law in the usual fashion, and may discard one or more packets
>   from the head of the queue, before returning the packet that should be
>   dequeued (or nothing if the queue is or becomes empty while being
>   handled by the CoDel algorithm).
>   Finally, if the CoDel algorithm did not return a packet, the queue is
>   empty, and the scheduler does one of two things: if the queue selected
>   for dequeue came from the list of new queues, it is moved to the end
>   of the list of old queues. If instead it came from the list of old
>   queues, that queue is removed from the list, to be added back (as a
>   new queue) the next time a packet arrives that hashes to that queue.
>   Then, (since no packet was available for dequeue), the whole dequeue
>   process is restarted from the beginning.
>   If, instead, the scheduler *did* get a packet back from the CoDel
>   algorithm, it updates the byte deficit for the selected queue before
>   returning the packet to the lower layers of the kernel networking
>   stack for sending.
> The new/old queue distinction has a particular consequence for queues
> that don't build up more than a quantum bytes before being visited by
> the scheduler (as a new queue), *and* then stay empty until the
> scheduler comes back around to it in the list of old queues: Such queues
> will get removed from the list, and then re-added as a new queue each
> time a packet arrives for it, and so will always get priority over
> queues that do not empty out each round. Exactly how much data a flow
> has to send to keep its queue in this state is somewhat difficult to
> reason about, because it depends on both the egress link speed and the
> number of concurrent flows. This makes it harder to reason about the
> behaviour of fq_codel. However, in practice many things that are
> beneficial to have prioritised for typical internet use (ACKs, DNS
> lookups, interactive SSH, HTTP requests; and also ICMP pings) *tend* to
> fall in this category, which is why fq_codel performs so well for many
> practical applications.
> For those interested in examining the behaviour of fq_codel in more
> detail, the code can be found in your local Linux source tree, in
> net/sched/sch_fq_codel.c[4]. While some of it can be somewhat of a
> challenge to comprehend, it overall is a very instructive example of a
> practical implementation of a queueing algorithm in a modern operating
> system.
> [1] http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=2209336
> [2] For a description of SFQ, refer to your system man page `man tc-sfq`
> or to the paper by Paul McKenney:
> http://www2.rdrop.com/~paulmck/scalability/paper/sfq.2002.06.04.pdf
> [3] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deficit_round_robin
> [4] Or online at
> https://git.kernel.org/cgit/linux/kernel/git/torvalds/linux.git/tree/net/sched/sch_fq_codel.c

Best regards,
  Jesper Dangaard Brouer
  MSc.CS, Sr. Network Kernel Developer at Red Hat
  Author of http://www.iptv-analyzer.org
  LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/brouer
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