Multiple Page Size Support in the Linux Kernel

The Linux kernel currently supports a single user space page size, usually the minimum dictated by the architecture. This paper describes the ongoing modifications to the Linux kernel to allow applications to vary the size of pages used to map their address spaces and to reap the performance benefits associated with the use of large pages.

The results from our implementation of multiple page size support in the Linux kernel are very encouraging. Namely, we find that the performance improvement of applications written in various modern programming languages range from 10% to over 35%. The observed performance improvements are consistent with those reported by other researchers. Considering that memory latencies continue to grow and represent a barrier for achieving scalable performance on faster processors, we argue that multiple page size support is a necessary and important addition to the OS kernel and the Linux kernel in particular.

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