mm: thp: tail page refcounting fix

Michel while working on the working set estimation code, noticed that
calling get_page_unless_zero() on a random pfn_to_page(random_pfn)
wasn't safe, if the pfn ended up being a tail page of a transparent
hugepage under splitting by __split_huge_page_refcount().

He then found the problem could also theoretically materialize with
page_cache_get_speculative() during the speculative radix tree lookups
that uses get_page_unless_zero() in SMP if the radix tree page is freed
and reallocated and get_user_pages is called on it before
page_cache_get_speculative has a chance to call get_page_unless_zero().

So the best way to fix the problem is to keep page_tail->_count zero at
all times.  This will guarantee that get_page_unless_zero() can never
succeed on any tail page.  page_tail->_mapcount is guaranteed zero and
is unused for all tail pages of a compound page, so we can simply
account the tail page references there and transfer them to
tail_page->_count in __split_huge_page_refcount() (in addition to the

While debugging this s/_count/_mapcount/ change I also noticed get_page is
called by direct-io.c on pages returned by get_user_pages.  That wasn't
entirely safe because the two atomic_inc in get_page weren't atomic.  As
opposed to other get_user_page users like secondary-MMU page fault to
establish the shadow pagetables would never call any superflous get_page
after get_user_page returns.  It's safer to make get_page universally safe
for tail pages and to use get_page_foll() within follow_page (inside
get_user_pages()).  get_page_foll() is safe to do the refcounting for tail
pages without taking any locks because it is run within PT lock protected
critical sections (PT lock for pte and page_table_lock for

The standard get_page() as invoked by direct-io instead will now take
the compound_lock but still only for tail pages.  The direct-io paths
are usually I/O bound and the compound_lock is per THP so very
finegrined, so there's no risk of scalability issues with it.  A simple
direct-io benchmarks with all lockdep prove locking and spinlock
debugging infrastructure enabled shows identical performance and no
overhead.  So it's worth it.  Ideally direct-io should stop calling
get_page() on pages returned by get_user_pages().  The spinlock in
get_page() is already optimized away for no-THP builds but doing
get_page() on tail pages returned by GUP is generally a rare operation
and usually only run in I/O paths.

This new refcounting on page_tail->_mapcount in addition to avoiding new
RCU critical sections will also allow the working set estimation code to
work without any further complexity associated to the tail page
refcounting with THP.

Signed-off-by: Andrea Arcangeli <>
Reported-by: Michel Lespinasse <>
Reviewed-by: Michel Lespinasse <>
Reviewed-by: Minchan Kim <>
Cc: Peter Zijlstra <>
Cc: Hugh Dickins <>
Cc: Johannes Weiner <>
Cc: Rik van Riel <>
Cc: Mel Gorman <>
Cc: KOSAKI Motohiro <>
Cc: Benjamin Herrenschmidt <>
Cc: David Gibson <>
Cc: <>
Cc: <>
Signed-off-by: Andrew Morton <>
Signed-off-by: Linus Torvalds <>
8 files changed