Memory fragmentation via inode cache growth

In my last blog post I covered some details of our recent battle with memory fragmentation problems on an OL6 server (Exadata compute node). It was mostly focused around page cache growth which was the main scenario. However, in addition to that, there was also a secondary scenario that had a completely different mechanism, and I will describe it in this post.

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Memory fragmentation via buffered file I/O

Last year I’ve spent quite some time tackling various memory fragmentation issues on an Exadata cluster (I’ve described some of my experiences here and here). In the end, everything was resolved, and the symptoms went away, but only to come back in a different form a few months later. First we had a minor episode months ago — some applications experienced timeouts when trying to connect, and there was a massive spike in Load Average metric with hundreds of processes in the “D” state stuck on rtnetlink_rcv and rtnl_lock. Then everything became stable again, until a few weeks ago, when the same symptoms came back, but the impact became much more severe, with node evictions, reboots and failovers causing serious disruption for the application.

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