We have a CentOS 6.4 based server attached to Hitachi HNAS 3080 storage and observed the kernel remount the filesystem in read-only mode:

May 16 07:31:03 GNS3-SRV-CMP-001 kernel: [1259725.675814] EXT3-fs (dm-1): error: remounting filesystem read-only

This happened after several I/O errors and all paths to the device reportedly going down:

May 16 07:31:03 GNS3-SRV-CMP-001 multipathd: mpatha: remaining active paths: 0

I have been looking at sar logs and can see few very large (2 seconds) await times:

07:40:00       dev8-0     17.91    112.04     98.03     11.73      0.00      0.20      0.07      0.12
07:40:00      dev8-16      0.23      1.85      0.00      8.00      0.00      3.71      3.71      0.09
07:40:00      dev8-32     91.50   8338.76   5292.93    148.98      8.38     91.60      9.76     89.35
07:40:00     dev252-0     91.27   8336.91   5292.93    149.34     17.79    194.88      9.79     89.38
07:40:00     dev252-1    674.80   8168.16   5292.93     19.95   1473.53   2183.60      1.32     88.98

The duration between 07:30:00-07:40:00 does happen the time when the filesystem got mounted read-only. However, even under normal conditions, one repeated observation is that the await time for underlying devices is much lower than that of the multipath device. For instance:

00:00:00          DEV       tps  rd_sec/s  wr_sec/s  avgrq-sz  avgqu-sz     await     svctm     %util
00:10:00       dev8-0     19.27    129.41     78.61     10.80      0.01      0.27      0.16      0.32
00:10:00      dev8-16      0.23      1.80      0.00      8.00      0.00      0.86      0.84      0.02
00:10:00      dev8-32     94.88  10285.16   3363.48    143.86      3.39     35.76      6.83     64.82
00:10:00     dev252-0     94.65  10283.34   3363.48    144.18      3.64     38.47      6.86     64.89
00:10:00     dev252-1    435.06  10087.12   3363.48     30.92    118.42    272.21      1.47     64.12

dev8-0 happens to be the local disk, while dev8-16 (/dev/sdb) and dev8-32 (/dev/sdc) are the underlying ones for dev252-0 (/dev/mapper/mpatha). dev252-1 (/dev/mapper/mpathap1) is a single partition spanning the whole of the multipath device. Here is output from multipath -ll:

mpatha (2521501cbffffffffe96773b50ec30020) dm-0 BlueArc,NAS Platform
size=10T features='0' hwhandler='0' wp=rw
|-+- policy='round-robin 0' prio=1 status=enabled
| `- 9:0:0:0 sdc 8:32 active ready running
`-+- policy='round-robin 0' prio=1 status=active
  `- 8:0:0:0 sdb 8:16 active ready running

Why should the await time for /dev/mapper/mpathap1 be so much higher than that of /dev/mapper/mpatha or even /dev/sdb or /dev/sdc?

  • 1
    It seems noteworthy that apparently a lot of request merging is happening on the way from /dev/mapper/mpathap1 to /dev/mapper/mpatha. This is also the layer where most of the await time seems to be added. Can you check which elevators are used in /sys/block/mpathap1/queue/scheduler and /sys/block/mpatha/queue/scheduler, possibly switching it to deadline or noop for comparison? – the-wabbit Jun 1 '15 at 12:27
  • The I/O scheduler for mpatha (/sys/block/dm-0/queue/scheduler) is noop and that for mpathap1 (/sys/block/dm-1/queue/scheduler) is none. – pdp Jun 2 '15 at 16:07
  • 4
    I strongly suspect that the scheduler's queueing/merging algorithm is responsible for the delay. I would swap cfq of the underlying devices for noop or deadline just to see if it changes anything. This likely will be unrelated to your all paths down issue, though. – the-wabbit Jun 9 '15 at 19:57
  • 2
    FWIW, I have observed the same kind of behaviour on other types of device mapper devices - specifically with NSS pools. Merge-able writes do have a higher await (and longer queues) on the dm device than on the underlying physical device while read requests and writes without any merging done are mainly unaffected. I do not know yet if this is simply a presentation error due to the way awaits are calculated or actually prolonged response times due to the nature of the queueing / merging algorithm. – the-wabbit Aug 8 '15 at 17:39
  • 1
    One of the Systemtap IO scripts could possibly provide you with additional insight into what is going on. io_submit.stp, ioblktime.stp, and biolatency-nd.stp might be good places to start. – Kassandry Sep 6 '15 at 9:29

As user the-wabbit suggests, there is request-merging going on. You can see that in the column avgrq-sz, the average request size - which shows a significant increase.

Now 'await' is the time spent in the queue plus the time spent servicing those requests. If a small request, let's call it 'x', is merged with a couple of other requests (y and z, issued after x), then x will

  • wait in the queue to be merged with y
  • wait in the queue tu be merged with z
  • wait for (x,y,z) to be completed

This will obviously have a negative impact on the await statistic, mostly because of the way await is calculated, without actually signifying a problem in itself.

Now let's take a look at /dev/sdb (dev8-16). Did you know that you are not using that path? You have two priority groups in your multipath config, one is


and on is


You probably have

path_grouping_policy    failover

in your configuration (which is the default).

If you want to prevent the IO errors in case both paths are down, you could try:

        features        "1 queue_if_no_path"
in your multipath.conf

Now the real question remains, why do both paths go down?

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